2021 NFL Draft Prospect Profile: CB Patrick Surtain II, Alabama

Let's find out more about one of this draft's top cornerback prospects, Patrick Surtain II from Alabama.
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CB PATRICK SURTAIN II 

Height: 6'2"
Weight: 202 lbs.
Class: Junior 
School: Alabama


He started as a true freshman (had 38 consecutive starts) for Nick Saban’s defense, where he was a Freshman All-American and lived up to his high recruiting pedigree. He played in all 40 games for the Crimson Tide and recorded 116 tackles, 6 for a loss, four interceptions, and 24 passes defended, along with three forced fumbles.

He was a unanimous All-American and won SEC Defensive Player of the Year in 2020 when he recorded 37 tackles, 3.5 for a loss, an interception, and nine passes defended. He was a finalist for the Bednarik, Lott, Nagurski, and Thorpe awards. Surtain II may not be an elite athlete, but he’s still a really good football player who deserves to be selected in the top 15.

Notables

Patrick Surtain II is the son of 10-year pro and three-time Pro Bowler, Patrick Surtain, who played for the Chiefs and Dolphins. He was the number one cornerback and a five-star recruit, out of Plantation, Florida, in the 2018 cycle. 

Attended American Heritage High School, where he won three high school state titles. Surtain II received more than 30 scholarship offers.

Traits

Surtain II is a fundamentally sound, long cornerback with excellent height and good overall athletic ability. He is light on his feet, possesses good short-area quickness to close through the catch point, and has good overall lateral movement skills. He is fluid, has solid overall transitions to flip his hips, and doesn’t play too high (good center of gravity) even though he’s a bigger cornerback. He was mostly a boundary corner but has experience being used in the slot against better slot receivers.

Very disciplined and patient at the line of scrimmage; waits for receivers to commit and is rarely fooled. He is very controlled and balanced in his back-pedal and at the line of scrimmage. He has played in over 600 press snaps over the last two seasons and brings great technique and play strength to that area of his game.

He has a good one-hand jam and rides outside while squeezing receivers off the red-line and towards the sideline. He does a very good job staying in phase in man coverage - always seems to be in position through routes; showed good recovery speed and burst when he was slightly out of position.

He plays with confidence and smarts. He sees the field very well in zone coverage and plays with excellent reactive quickness. Can click & close quickly downhill to disrupt underneath routes.

Although he has good lateral movement skills and solid transitions, it’s still not an elite level type of trait for a player of this caliber; on diamond type of releases (where he has to quickly flip back inside after an outside release), he’s not the smoothest in transitions in this draft class.

Decisive with his decision-making and isn’t fooled often by route runners - it’s no wonder he started for Nick Saban as a true freshman. His deep speed isn’t elite either, and he’s not as twitchy as many other top cornerbacks.

I love how he anticipates and uses good timing to break through the catch point and be disruptive on certain routes; he does a very good job with this on slants, posts, and other horizontal breaking routes.

Excellent in run support and routinely gets his nose dirty. He uses good play strength and instinct to shed wide receivers and come downhill with veracity to tackle. He has a long and wide tackle radius while also possessing good fundamentals with his talking mechanics.

I wish he were a bit more consistent on locating and disrupting the catch-point on deep passes. There were a few reps on tape where Surtain II was in a good position to defend the route but struggled with the catch points timing and location on those vertical-based routes. Also tends to get a bit grabby at the break on spot routes (curls, hitches, etc.).

These concerns, and the lack of top-end speed, aren’t deal-breakers but should be acknowledged for a player that may be drafted in the top 10.

There are three things that Patrick Graham loves in a cornerback: is he long? Can he play man coverage? How is he in run support? Surtain II checks all three of those boxes for the Giants, and he’s a realistic target in the first round.

Overall, Surtain II can be a quality outside starting cornerback with a very high floor. He’s incredibly smart, technically proficient, disciplined, can play both man and zone, has no glaring weaknesses, and plays the run very well.

He’s not going to be the fastest, and he could get a bit better with his ball skills on vertical-based routes, but he’s going to make a very good pro in the league. 


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