The first round of the 2021 NFL Draft didn’t go like any of us here at Mile High Report imagined, but they did get arguably the best cornerback in the entire class so there won’t be much complaining from this Denver Broncos fan.
However, as grades go there was a wide range of feelings and opinions from the staff here. I thought it would be fun to share the draft grades for Denver from last night’s event. After we run through the staff here, I’ll also include various draft grades from around the nation as well.
A: While I was big into getting a quarterback early, I’ll have to trust that there was something Denver just didn’t like about either Justin Fields or Mac Jones. Hopefully the Aaron Rodgers fantasy becomes reality at some point in a month or so, but for now Denver got a really good cornerback and likely a Day 1 starter in Patrick Surtain II. You can’t really be mad about that. - Tim Lynch
F: Why? With the talent level on this team, entering 2021 with the current QB room feels like a letdown. And speaking of letdowns, the Aaron Rodgers news had everyone on edge. Then it was nothing. So, with Justin Fields sitting there, waiting to book his flight to Denver, George Paton gets his card submitted. It’s not the QBOTF. It a CB. Surtain is fine. I’m sure he’s going to be good, but this was such a deflating draft. - Adam Malnati
A: I’ll give the pick itself an A, but the process gets an F. First the good news: Surtain was the best cornerback in this class. He wins with technique and should quickly push for playing time with his ability to win at the line of scrimmage and mirror all sorts of matchups. While I don’t understand why the Broncos were cool on Justin Fields, I respect it. Where George Paton flunked his first draft is that he did not use the rookie passer as a trade chip to secure future ammo. Going forward, the Broncos have one of the weakest QB rooms in the league barring a significant jump from Drew Lock. If there isn’t a trade for Aaron Rodgers coming, the Broncos are locked into QB purgatory. - Joe Rowles
F: This pick makes no effing sense. It does nothing to help the biggest issue with this team and that’s score points. Surtain could become a great cornerback, but there’s no guarantee he even gets on the field in 2021. Are you really hoping Bridgewater and Lock turn into something they’re not? And what is the expectation here, that Fangio and his defense shutout every opponent? The Broncos still can’t score points. Unless this pick leads to Rodgers, it’s a major F. - Ian St. Clair
A: As hype as a QB would have been, you have to get guys that can play when you pick this high in the draft. The Broncos got a SUPERB player Patrick Surtain. He’s going to step right in as a rookie and make an impact for this defense. He’s going to be a great corner for the Broncos for a very long time and bolsters what was the most abysmal roster position from 2020 to shore up the defense. I applaud the Broncos front office for not chasing a QB that they weren’t in love with and for making a super pick for the Broncos. - Sadaraine
F: Teddy Bridgewater is not a plan A at QB and neither is hoping Lock isn’t, well Lock, this year. The whole debate this offseason was “don’t give up the farm for a QB, don’t strip the roster just to get a QB.” Well, Denver sat there at 9, with no major holes on the roster, and a perfect opportunity to take a QB. And they passed. Passed on what could’ve been the best chance to YOLO a 1st round pick on a QB, in a year with no major holes and you’re in the top 10. Unless Denver makes a big run for Aaron Rodgers and lands him, they’ll regret not swinging at every pitch possible to try and find their QB.
I still hold that 2018 was the year Denver should've drafted a QB. As much as I love Bradley Chubb, to come out of the top 5 picks in that draft without a QB, is likely a big reason Elway is no longer the GM.— Jeffrey Essary (@JeffreyEssary) April 29, 2021
Don't make the same mistake if you're within striking distance this yr https://t.co/mNAPncERTE
F: We literally had the worst passer rating as a team in the league in 2020. We had a chance to get what some have called the second best QB in this draft and we decided to get a CB instead. Having a great defense in 2021 might help us win a few games in the division, but we aren’t going to shut down Mahomes and Chiefs. - Joe Mahoney
A+: The prospect.... A+. Top defensive prospect, a damn good fit, a damn good player, and strengthens the secondary. Passing on a QB... F. Passing on Fields because of Teddy/Lock could kick us in the ass like Allen and Lamar does currently The X-Factor... if this all leads to a trade for Rodgers down the road, wipes out the F instantly. Sidenote, instant grades are dumb. - Scotty Payne
Unsurprisingly, we’re an all or nothing group here. Let’s see what the national media had to say about the Broncos draft night.
There’s been swirling rumors all afternoon about the Broncos potentially being in on a trade for Aaron Rodgers, and not taking a quarterback here seems to lend that some credence. Surtain II is a great all-around corner, my top player at the position in the draft, and I think it makes a lot of sense in a division with Pat Mahomes. He’ll come in and be able to make an impact from day one, and when you get one of the best players at your position of greatest need you made a good choice. If this doesn’t lead to a deal for Rodgers and the Broncos left Fields on the board it’ll be interesting.
I love his game. He is one of those corners who will be sound from the minute he steps on the field. He will be a star.
Analysis: It’s interesting that the Broncos could have selected a top quarterback prospect in Justin Fields but chose not to pick him. If the team is stuck struggling because Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater can’t get the job done, and Fields is succeeding with the Bears — the decision will be second-guessed for some time.
Surtain is my favorite corner in the draft. He simply stops passes from reaching their intended targets. He is a strong press corner, and his ability to play the ball in the air is special. The Broncos invested in cornerbacks Ronald Darby and Kyle Fuller in free agency, but that didn’t prevent them from making this pick. Don’t overlook the fact that teams need four solid corners nowadays, especially given the potential for injuries at the position.
The selection of Patrick Surtain II to the Denver Broncos was arguably the biggest surprise of the night. With Justin Fields still on the board and the Broncos having a need to address at quarterback, many expected them to go that way. Among needs on the defense, cornerback ranked behind linebacker and edge rusher. Therefore, this selection gets the lowest grade of Round 1 so far.
After all of the talk about quarterbacks, defensive-minded coach Vic Fangio ultimately took a pass thief rather than a passer, nabbing the most proven and pro-ready cornerback in this class. Surtain is an NFL legacy and three-year Alabama starter. It is hard to fault the Broncos for this move considering the road to a division title travels through Kansas City. Surtain might not be quite as flashy as Horn, the corner selected one spot ahead of him, but he’s assignment sound and as reliable as snow in Denver.
Surtain has the potential to be an elite NFL cornerback after dominating against quality SEC competition for Alabama. Cornerback was a huge need for the Broncos, too. Surtain should be able to step in and make an immediate impact for Denver’s defense in 2021. He’s one of the most NFL-ready prospects in the draft.
There’s nothing wrong with the selection of Surtain, the strong defender in the top 10. But for a team that needed an upgrade at QB and several other positions, Denver went for corner despite adding Kyle Fuller and Ronald Darby for Vic Fangio in free agency. Surtain should be a special player with shutdown skills to open up the blitz packages, but the Broncos get knocked a little by going for a future-minded quasi luxury pick.
Surtain is a safe pick with Pro Bowl potential at a high-leverage position. The problem is that the Broncos are in Year 6 of being one year away from the playoffs, and they just passed up a chance at a franchise quarterback to settle for Teddy Bridgewater (whom I like, but it is still settling) and Drew Lock (who is awful).
But then, maybe Aaron Rodgers will crash the party by midnight. But until then…
That’s it. How would you grade the Broncos draft of Patrick Surtain II on Day 1?
How would you grade the Broncos 1st round pick?
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