Denver Broncos GM George Paton has been in the line of fire for comments made to NBC Sports' Peter King about the overall value of cornerbacks vs. franchise quarterbacks. Of course, Paton's controversial decision to draft for Alabama cornerback Patrick Surtain II at pick 9 in the first round stung many fans because it involved not selecting Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields.
Hindsight may well judge the first-year general manager even more harshly if Fields goes on to have a prolific NFL career. Paton's decision to trade up in Round 2 for North Carolina running back Javonte Williams might also receive a more serious post-mortem should things turn sour.
This past week, Paton returned to his former stomping grounds in Minnesota for the Broncos' joint practice sessions with the Vikings and when asked about his first-round decision, he stood his ground.
“They’re exactly what we thought they were when we drafted them. Nothing phases either player, “ Paton said of Surtain and Williams. “They both work hard, they go about [their] day-to-day. They don’t let all the media stuff go to their head. They were pros the day they walked in. They attack it every day. They love the work; they love the process. We know they are highly talented.”
Critics need only look at the body of work Surtain has put up in the Broncos' two joint practices for validation of what Paton is saying. Meanwhile, Williams has been turning in some strong performances as well and his role only rose in importance when Mike Boone had to be helped from the practice field on Thursday with an apparent leg injury.
That being said, the performances of top Denver's top draft choice Surtain continues to turn the most heads and it’s polarized some sections of the fanbase who believe QB always trumps a corner in any scenario. Paton went into some detail to explain his thought process behind selecting the 21-year-old corner, including Surtain’s unique ability to line up at multiple positions despite his youthful inexperience.
“I think it’s great. We’re fortunate we have a player in Surtain that can play multiple positions at a young age,” Paton said. “Not many rookies can play three positions. It’s a really good problem to have. It’s [Head Coach] Vic [Fangio’s] problem, but you can’t have enough of those guys. Corners, a lot of them go down so we’re really happy with our depth."
Paton went on to reveal the Broncos have been receiving calls from NFL teams interested in trading for one of the team's depth corners, because Denver is so stacked at the position. We'll see how that plays out.
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