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Broncos’ Patrick Surtain II growing into an elite corner

The rookie might not win Defensive Rookie of the Year, but he has all the makings of being a shutdown corner for years to come.

Denver Broncos v Los Angeles Chargers Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

The Broncos knew what they were going to get when they drafted Patrick Surtain II. He was one of the most polished cornerback prospects in recent memory, and showed off of athleticism at his stellar pro day. While the selection drew some controversy (and likely will continue to do so until the Broncos get their QB situation sorted out), it’s hard to say the early returns haven’t panned out for the Broncos. Surtain has been excellent and everything the Broncos could have hoped for.

Surtain usurped Kyle Fuller’s spot at LCB early on in the season, and hasn’t given it up. Denver essentially asks him to play the right side of the field and just go shut down everything over there. Tight ends, wide receivers, running backs, you name it. He’s grown as the season has gone on, and the fruits of their labors are showing, particularly highlighted by a specatcular showing against the Chargers in Week 17.

It is rare to see rookie corners go toe to toe with a guy like Keenan Allen, especially with how crafty Keenan Allen is as a receiver, but Surtain delivered and absolutely frustrated Keenan Allen.

What we’re seeing out of Surtain is simply spectacular for a rookie corner. He takes on number one receivers, big RZ threats, smaller shiftier ones, tight ends, you name it. While he doesn’t shuffle and move around like how the Rams use Jalen Ramsey, he effectively takes a side of the field and shuts it down.

THAT is rare for a corner in general. For a rookie corner? Even rarer and just highlights how dominant he’s playing.

He’s just a complete corner. Plain and simple. There’s nothing he can’t do on the football field. Surtain has everything you want in a shutdown corner, and those traits are translating-early.

So many rookie corners either play too fast trying to make a play or play too slow trying to not get burned and each end up getting toasted. Surtain got got by Sterling Shepard on a crossing route for a TD Week 1 (missed the tackle-more on that later) and hasn’t really had a ton of mistakes on that level since. Against superstars like Terry McLaurin, Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, JaMarr Chase, Keenan Allen, Amari Cooper, and Darren Waller, Surtain has allowed a combined 4 catches for 60 yards on 10 targets. Almost half of those 60 yards came after the catch on one rep vs Amari Cooper. He didn’t allow a single TD to them and recorded two PBUs. JaMarr Chase, the likely and very deserving OROY, wasn’t even targeted against Surtain.

Not only does he shut guys down, but he’s productive when the ball is in the air too. His 8 PBUs are tied for 2nd place among all rookies (Greg Newsome II) and his 4 INTs lead the rookies (has another INT that he dropped).

He’s becoming a complete player as the season has gone on. He’s started shoring up his biggest weakness (run defense) and he’s a far more willing tackler than he once was.

While Surtain II won’t win DROY, I’d argue he’s just as important to Denver as Micah Parsons is to Dallas. Surtain lets Denver adjust and having that #1 corner that can hang with those top guys lets Vic Fangio and co breathe a little easier and lets them help the other side a little more. His development has been stellar.

As he continues to settle into the league, Surtain is only going to continue to be a force on the field. What we’re seeing blows me away. You just don’t have complete corners as rookies that often. I wonder if a new staff would shift and move him around more instead of keeping him to one side.

I keep running out of adjectives to say about the guy, so I’ll leave it at this: While I don’t think Surtain will be a Jalen Ramsey super-freak best corner in the league player, he absolutely has the ability to be a consistent top-5 corner week-in and week-out every year for Denver moving forward for a long time. I don’t like to make hot takes, but the tape has been so good that it’s hard to really view that as one.

For George Paton’s first draft pick, he sure did draft one heck of an impact player. Surtain will be a bright spot for the Broncos for years.