FRISCO - The Dallas Cowboys need some cornerback help in this 2021 NFL Draft. So when the Alabama Crimson Tide faces the Ohio State Buckeyes in the National Championship Game on Monday, that means the Cowboys front office will have their eyes on one player — Patrick Surtain II.
The junior cornerback has at one more year of eligibility, but he could declare for the 2021 NFL Draft after the game. Surtain II hasn’t tipped his hand just yet. But, even without that declaration, he’s already considered by many draft experts as one of the Top 2 cornerbacks in this draft, along with Virginia Tech’s Caleb Farley. Farley opted out of the 2020 season in the summer due to COVID-19 and then declared for the NFL Draft.
In fact, at least one mock draft at CBSSports.com has the Cowboys taking Surtain II at No. 10 overall.
Surtain II, the son of former NFL defensive back Patrick Surtain, became an instant starter at Alabama when he arrived as a true freshman before the 2018 season. In fact, he’s never missed a game for the Crimson Tide, so durability isn’t a question. The Crimson Tide considers him to be a ‘lock-down’ cornerback. Many that watch the NFL do, too.
During his media availability before the National Championship Game, Surtain II talked about the influence his father had on his football education.
“I can remember him playing since I was in my earliest youth days,” Surtain II said. “But he's taught me a lot about football, even more about football, (the) afterlife of football. He taught me a lot of things going into the game. I just carried and learned from him.”
If Surtain II does decide to leave Alabama for the NFL after the title game, he’d like to do so with the ONE thing he hasn’t accomplished in college football — a national championship.
And, then, perhaps joining his Crimson Tide teammate Trevon Diggs in Dallas?
We shall see.
You can find more on Surtain II in our player bio below.
Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
Projected round: First
NFL.com profile: Patrick Surtain II
Top quote about Surtain II
“There's a lot to love about Surtain's game. The three things that stand out to me are his size, instincts and ball skills. That's a great foundation to start with when you're trying to build an upper-echelon NFL cornerback. As I mentioned earlier, I believe he can play in any scheme, (but) … he can play man and Cover 3 all day long. His length and physicality are exactly what (teams) are looking for at the position. — Daniel Jeremiah, NFL.com
Surtain II started the season considered one of the top cornerbacks in college football, something befitting his surname (his father, Patrick Surtain, played in the NFL from 2002-08 after a stellar career at Florida State). He finished 2020 as a unanimous first team All-American (AFCA, Associated Press, FWAA, The Sporting News, Walter Camp), with first-team accolades from CBS Sports, ESPN.com, Pro Football Focus and USA Today. He was a finalist for the Bednarik, Lott, Nagurski and Thorpe awards. He was selected as the SEC Defensive Player of the Year by both the AP and the league's coaches, along with first team All-SEC honors.
2020 (junior): Surtain helped fuel the Crimson Tide’s run to a national title game appearance.
2019 (sophomore): Honorable mention All-America honors at corner by Pro Football Focus
2018 (freshman): Freshman All-American by The Athletic ... SEC All-Freshman Team.
Why the Cowboys?
The Cowboys have four impending free agents at cornerback, including a starter, Chidobe Awuzie. The Cowboys will likely lose some of those free agents, and should they lose Awuzie they will need another corner to start opposite Trevon Diggs, who just happened to play at Alabama with Surtain.
Like Diggs, Surtain feels like the type of player that can come in and start from Day 1. Surtain only has four career interceptions, but as his reputation has grown with the Crimson Tide the more reticent opposing quarterback have been to throw his way. He may not be a true lock-down corner to start with, but like Diggs did in 2020, Surtain seems certain to show some promise early.
The Cowboys, who have 10 selections in the draft, will take at least one corner and one safety to address the needs at those positions. They couldn’t do much better than Surtain, and they could even trade back a little bit to get him and accumulate and extra pick, if they like.
Finally, keep this in mind. Alabama head coach Nick Saban used to be a defensive backs coach, and it’s the position he takes the most interest in during day-to-day workouts. ... and the Cowboys traditionally listen to Saban's advice.