For the Denver Broncos, training camp is fundamentally about judging the talent that exists on the roster and assembling it into a cohesive unit. Rookies in particular have to use every opportunity given to make a good impression, and if the coaches are looking for some extra in-house evaluation, there's no better place to look than within the immediate peer group.
Cornerback Patrick Surtain II is one rookie that is turning heads early in training camp with his smooth transition to the professional ranks. The former Alabama star has already made a big impression on his veteran cornerback colleagues Bryce Callahan and Ronald Darby, both of whom raved about how NFL-ready the rookie looks.
“Oh yeah. Probably one of the quickest I’ve seen as a rookie acclimate to a defense and pick up multiple spots,” Callahan said last week. “It’s pretty impressive.”
Outside of quarterback playing cornerback in the NFL is probably the toughest assignment in the game, so it’s crucial that technique and talent meet perfectly with football IQ. Callahan is already confident that Surtain's got that all covered.
“His press technique. He kind of looks like he’s been in the league for a couple of years already,” Callahan said. “Real calm. He’s got a lot going for him.”
Darby is also new to the Broncos' defensive scheme after signing as a free agent from Washington. The vet knows what it takes to get up to speed and just like Callahan, he's been impressed with how Surtain is using his God-given talent to make massive strides in his rookie development.
“He is for sure. He has a lot of natural abilities like getting his head back for the ball, playing the ball, focusing on the ball,” Darby said on Saturday. “He gets up there, compete, press, play off the ball. [He’s] patient, willing to learn, doesn’t complain. He works hard.”
GM George Paton’s stoic determination to select the most pro-ready player at pick 9 in this year's NFL draft, in the face of increasing pressure to take a QB, looks like it might pay off if Surtain can find a niche. There are rumors Surtain could even be used to match his size and speed against elite tight ends like Kansas City's Travis Kelce and Las Vegas' Darren Waller.
Callahan certainly feels that the increased ability to mix and match puts the Broncos' new-look secondary in a better position to do its thing to even greater effect.
“I feel like, yeah, for sure. With more DBs that know more positions, we can mix our defense up, we can move more guys around,” Callahan said. “That’s obviously going to give our defense more versatility.”
Surtain is as advertised and appears to be NFL-ready indeed. That’s music to the ears of the whole Broncos organization.
Follow Keith on Twitter @KeithC_NFL.
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