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Richard Sherman Hypes up Broncos' CB Patrick Surtain II: 'His Tape is Teach Tape'

Game recognizes game.

Richard Sherman, who’s best known for being a five-time Pro Bowler and three-time first-team All-Pro with the Seattle Seahawks' fabled ‘Legion of Boom’ secondary, is now retired from the NFL and hosts The Richard Sherman Podcast. In a recent episode, the Super Bowl XLVIII champion evaluated defensive back prospects ahead of the draft with NFL reporter Doug Farrar.

Sherman compared cornerbacks from the 2021 draft class, including Denver Broncos' standout Surtain and Carolina's Jaycee Horn, to this year’s crop of prospects, specifically, Cincinnati's Ahmad ‘Sauce’ Gardner, who’s by far the most talented and coveted corner in the 2022 draft class. Then Sherman hyped up the technique and fundamentals of the Broncos' 2021 first-round pick in a comment that has gone viral. 

“Surtain's tape is teach tape,” Sherman said.

“The fact that he's a rookie and you can literally make technique teach tape from his game tape, it's impressive]. His press, his off [coverage] — and it's week in and week out. He's not intimidated; it doesn't seem like he's intimidated by anything."

Sherman talked up both Surtain and Horn in comparison to the 2022 crop of cornerback prospects, and the entire draft class overall. 

"If Jaycee Horn and Surtain were in this draft, they'd have a chance to go one and two (overall)... They'd be the top prospects, I believe, in this draft,” said Sherman.

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Last August, Broncos' GM George Paton defended drafting Surtain, who some considered to be a 'safe' pick, telling NBC Sports' Peter King that “quarterbacks are available more than franchise corners every year, at least the last couple of years.” Broncos Country rolled its eyes while they were left to endure Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Lock at the helm of what was once a great position in another bummer season.

But here we are in April 2022, and a lot has changed in Denver. Perhaps Paton was right. Look at the movement of QBs this offseason alone — from Paton’s stellar acquisition of Russell Wilson to Cleveland acquiring Deshaun Watson, Indianapolis landing Matt Ryan, Washington acquiring Carson Wentz, Mitchell Trubisky signing in Pittsburgh, Marcus Mariota heading to Atlanta, and Bridgewater taking his talents to Miami.

Surtain proved during his greenhorn year that he’s a dangerous defensive weapon that opposing QBs will have to respect. According to Pro Football Focus, ‘PS2’ led all rookie cornerbacks in 2021 with a 69.7 passer rating allowed in coverage and surrendered just 11.4 yards per reception. His exceptional preparation and natural football acumen make him an instant playmaker the second he steps onto the field.

After former Broncos' president of football operations John Elway hired Paton as general manager last year, analysts and fans alike wondered just how he’d wake up the team that he referred to as “a sleeping giant.” Paton’s first monumental step in that direction was selecting cornerback Patrick Surtain II with the ninth overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft.

Many people scoffed at Paton's decision, choosing a defensive back over a potential franchise quarterback with prospects like Alabama's Mac Jones and Ohio State's Justin Fields on the board at the time of the Broncos’ selection. While it can take a handful of years to determine a fair assessment and grade of a drafted player, Surtain didn’t waste any time in 2021 and proved Paton’s decision to be a home run.

After playing multiple positions in training camp — both on the perimeter and in the slot — the former Alabama star saw immediate playing time as a rookie. Surtain made his first career start against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 2 and recorded his first career interception in a Broncos victory.

In Week 12’s win over the Los Angeles Chargers, Surtain earned AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors after recording two interceptions, one of which he returned 70 yards to the house for his first career pick-six. The 21-year-old concluded his rookie campaign having played in all 17 games with 15 starts, totaling 58 tackles (45 solo), 14 passes defensed, four interceptions, and one tackle for a loss.

Going back to the 2021 draft, Horn was actually selected by Carolina just one pick ahead of Surtain at No. 8 overall, and both are legacy players with their fathers (Joe Horn and Patrick Surtain, Sr.) having played in the NFL. Horn started three games as a rookie and recorded five tackles, one pass defensed, and one interception before suffering a fractured foot that ended his season.

Nevertheless, Horn is expected to make a triumphant return in 2022, and Sherman explained how defining the level of competition is when evaluating measurables.

“But I think the issue, the thing I like more about Surtain, is just the competition level. Surtain was doing it against SEC competition against Justin Jefferson, against Ja'Marr Chase, against Georgia, against Florida, against quality opponents, so you really got to see week in and week out, whether it's real."

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