With Aaron Rodgers-to-Mile High rumors raging, the Denver Broncos had a big decision to make with the No. 9 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft. With top-rated Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields still on the board, Broncos' GM George Paton zigged when many in media expected him to zag.
The Broncos selected Alabama cornerback Patrick Surtain II with the No. 9 pick, passing on Fields.
The decision to draft Surtain came on the heels of Denver's semi-tectonic decision to acquire QB Teddy Bridgewater from the Carolina Panthers on Wednesday, in exchange for a sixth-round pick. Bridgewater was acquired, ostensibly, to compete with the incumbent Drew Lock and provide the under-pressure head coach Vic Fangio with a trusty fail-safe.
Instead of creating a log-jam at quarterback, Paton opted for Surtain, who checks a big roster need box preemptively with the recently-signed Kyle Fuller and Bryce Callahan both entering a contract year.
Surtain brings 6-foot-2 length (208 pounds) to the table and an NFL legacy to boot. The son of a three-time Pro Bowl cornerback, Surtain, Jr. hails from the uber-competitive SEC and brings a wealth of big-game experience to the table.
Mile High Huddle's Lance Sanderson wrote the following in our Finding Broncos scouting report on the Crimson Tide product:
This is a tricky scenario for Denver, because as good as Surtain is in man-coverage, he is equally as bad playing off the ball in zone-coverage, making his fit in Vic Fangio’s defense incredibly sketchy. Fangio prefers to keep his cornerbacks off the ball, using high-quality recovery speed to keep plays in front of them, punctuated with solid tackling.
While Surtain is a great tackler in open space, his recovery speed and hip fluidity issues lead to plays getting away from him over the middle of the field. However, if Fangio signs off on the scheme fit with Surtain, I wouldn’t mind the Broncos drafting him.
Surtain is one of the top cornerbacks in the class, and I could get behind him in a Denver uniform, especially if Fangio and defensive coordinator Ed Donatell are jettisoned after 2021 and a new coach arrives with a man-coverage scheme in 2022.
I love the prospect but don’t like the scheme fit.
Lance isn't the only MHH draft analyst to question Surtain's scheme fit but if Fangio signed off on the pick, which he most certainly did, fans have to assume with some faith that the Broncos' defensive czar has a vision for the talented cornerback.
We'll have more reaction and analysis on Surtain in the hours ahead. For now, be sure to read up on him in Sanderson's scouting report.
Broncos Country has a new member to welcome into the Orange and Blue fold.
“It’s a very stacked defense," Surtain said during a quick post-pick Zoom presser. "I can’t wait to compete with those guys. When it’s all said and done we are going to be the number one defense.”
For what's it worth, the implication here for Lock is one of extreme confidence on the part of the Broncos. It turns out that Paton, Fangio, and president of football operations John Elway still believe Lock's best football is in front of him.
We are reacting to the Surtain pick and the first round of the draft as in unfolds in real time. Come join the MHH War Room and sound off (embedded below)!
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