One year ago, Broncos Country was in the midst of an internal battle prior to entering the 2021 regular season. After getting their hopes up for a quarterback either in the 2021 draft or acquiring a disgruntled Aaron Rodgers via trade, Broncos fans had to deal with the reality that instead of using the ninth overall pick to upgrade the position headlined by the underwhelming duo of Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Lock, GM George Paton decided to select cornerback Patrick Surtain II.
Flash forward to today in the Mile High City and things have changed. Just one year later, the Broncos in fact did send a ninth overall selection (plus more) to obtain an upgrade in franchise quarterback Russell Wilson from the Seattle Seahawks.
Those skeptical about selecting a cornerback instead of taking a shot at addressing the singularly most important position in all of American sports have been silenced (this writer included), and Paton’s comment stating, “It’s harder to find a true franchise cornerback than quarterback,” doesn’t come off as questionable when the Broncos now have an elite quarterback and an ascending superstar in Surtain.
Just how good is Surtain? Pro Football Focus' Trevor Sikkema ranked Surtain as the 20th-best NFL player under the age of 25 entering the 2022 season. Falling only behind the likes of A.J. Terrell as the only other cornerback to make the list, Surtain's star is rising as he will only be 22 years old this season.
While Surtain received praise from PFF, it is somewhat an oddity how poorly he graded per the site’s metrics. Ranking as the 24th-best overall cornerback via PFF’s defensive grade with at least 750 snaps at 66.1 and 24th with a coverage grade of 66.3, it does seem somewhat questionable how PFF graded Surtain in juxtaposition to how highly it's praising him as one of the best young players in football.
Also, Surtain didn’t earn high grades via PFF’s metrics last season, he further received praise from the platform this week as he was mentioned as one of the press-man corners in all of football in 2022, with the Broncos' star surrendering just 0.63 yards per coverage snap, a pass rating of 39.8, and a completion percentage of 68.3.
As future Hall-of-Fame cornerback Richard Sherman, and former member of the Seahawks’ Legion of Boom, stated earlier this offseason, "Surtain's tape is teach tape. And the fact that he's a rookie and you can literally make technique teach tape from his game tape, it's impressive."
In the NFL, your team is nothing until it has a legitimate answer under center at the quarterback position. That question seemed to cloud just how phenomenal of a prospect and selection Surtain was last season in the draft.
However, with Wilson now in Denver, fans harboring concerns about the quarterback position can relent and simply enjoy the blossoming superstar at the extremely valuable cornerback position that is Surtain. At just 22 years old, this won’t be the last offseason he finds himself on such a list.
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