They usually confronted an enormous choice.
Coming off a 5-11 season, the Broncos wanted course on each side of the soccer. Drew Lock, the quarterback Denver drafted within the second spherical of the 2019 Draft, completed the season having accomplished 57.3% of his passes for two,933 yards, 16 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.
The Broncos had been additionally 4-9 over his 13 begins.
Coming into the draft, many believed that Denver would dip their toes into the quarterback market, given the energy of that place within the 2021 Draft class. When the Broncos had been on the clock that night time with the ninth choice, each Justin Fields and Mac Jones had been on the board.
So was one other participant …
Denver went in a special course, including cornerback Patrick Surtain II from Alabama.
Even placing apart how Fields and Jones have carried out thus far, Surtain appears each bit the a part of a premier NFL cornerback. He’ll take the sector tonight towards the Indianapolis Colts, and it will likely be simply his twenty first NFL recreation. However Surtain has rapidly established himself as one of many prime cornerbacks within the league. As a rookie in 2021, Surtain allowed an NFL Passer Score of simply 69.7 when focused, which was ninth-best within the league amongst certified cornerbacks in keeping with Professional Soccer Focus charting information.
Surtain’s speedy success led to many viewing him as one of many league’s prime cornerbacks in the course of the summer season “rankings” season. ESPN ranked him as one of many prime 100 gamers within the league, and the ninth-best cornerback within the league. In an ESPN ballot of gamers and coaches, Surtain checked in because the seventh-ranked CB within the NFL, and PFF themselves had Surtain ranked eleventh, of their second-highest tier of cornerbacks.
Via 4 video games in 2022, that exhibits no signal of slowing down. Popping out of Alabama, the place he performed for Nick Saban, Surtain combines his spectacular technical abilities with elite traits. He excels no matter protection scheme, alignment and positioning on the sector, and his capacity to rapidly change instructions and drive on throws makes him a problem for any offense to face.
Take this third-down play from Week 3 towards the San Francisco 49ers. Surtain is aligned on the backside of the display, in press alignment throughout from Brandon Aiyuk. Watch as he executes a two-handed jam on the receiver proper after the snap, then sticks to his hip as Aiyuk releases downfield:
As Aiyuk will get to the highest of his vertical stem, after which cuts inside on his dig route, Surtain mirrors the path to perfection. That’s when the cornerback will get his eyes to the quarterback, enabling him to deflect the throw.
Carry on the punt group.
Surtain confronted an enormous matchup final week, as he and the Broncos took on Davante Adams and the Las Vegas Raiders. Whereas Adams completed the sport with 9 receptions for 101 yards, in keeping with the NFL’s Subsequent Gen Stats, Surtain fared reasonably properly when he was masking Adams:
Two of the 4 completions — and 36 of the 46 yards — got here on back-shoulder throws, that are very tough for a cornerback to defend. On most of the different routes, nonetheless, you noticed Surtain’s strengths as a CB.
Take this pink zone play early within the first quarter, with the Raiders dealing with a third and 5 on the Raiders’ 8-yard line. Surtain beings the play in off protection over Adams, however watch how rapidly he drives downhill, turning into disruptive on the catch level to stop the landing:
Surtain’s capacity to be a disruptive power was additionally evident by this play within the second quarter. Standing proper throughout from Adams in press alignment, watch how Surtain will get a two-handed jam into Adams proper on the snap, earlier than sticking to his hip on the receiver’s slant route:
After I see performs like this, I’m reminded of one thing Chris Vasseur mentioned throughout his livestream protection of the second night time of the 2021 NFL Draft. The defensive genius and former highschool defensive coordinator was requested a query about press protection, and in his response, Vasseur outlined how not each cornerback can execute press method at a excessive degree, and talked concerning the supreme confidence you want as a CB to execute press method.
Becuase one little slip, and also you grow to be an instantaneous meme.
Surtain, nonetheless, has that final confidence. The self-belief to face throughout one of many league’s greatest extensive receivers and get that two-handed jam into his chest off the road.
Later within the recreation, nonetheless, Surtain confirmed persistence when masking Adams. You will see that him on the backside of the display right here, utilizing a mushy backpedal as he reads the receiver’s launch:
However maybe my favourite play from Surtain this season got here close to the top of the primary half. It comes with 40 seconds left within the half, with the Raiders close to midfield. Surtain is on the prime of the display, aligned in off protection over Adams. The Broncos are in Cowl 3 on this play, with the cornerbacks taking part in off and giving an enormous cushion. Adams presses vertically off the snap, attempting to promote Surtain on a vertical route. However the younger CB’s really feel and persistence on this play, as he sticks on Adams, stands out, as does his unimaginable change-of-direction abilities, as he flips his hips to drive on the route when Adams breaks again in direction of the sideline:
That elite mixture of traits leads Surtain to the catch level, the place he is ready to break up this throw from Derek Carr.
Surtain has emerged as an elite cornerback rapidly over his younger profession, and has the right mixture of method, athleticism and confidence wanted to be a premier CB within the NFL. That mixture might be on show tonight because the Broncos tackle the Indianapolis Colts, and look to be an enormous a part of Denver’s protection for years to come back.