clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Broncos’ rookie standouts in ‘21 looking for big sophomore campaigns in ‘22

Javonte Williams and Patrick Surtain II have high hopes for an even more productive second year.

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

denverbroncos.com

In a losing season it can be hard to remember that there were some standout performers.

Like Patrick Surtain II and Javonte Williams - Broncos’ first- and second-round picks in 2021 - who both had impressive rookie seasons despite the 7-10 team record.

Williams, the second-round pick out of North Carolina, rushed for 903 yards last season, 460 of which were earned after contact. Operating as essentially RB1b, Williams also added 316 receiving yards and scored seven touchdowns between rushing and receiving.

Surtain, for his part of the rookie sensation equation, added four turnovers, including one pick six. And for anyone paying attention, it was clear Surtain is the real deal when it comes to elite-level defensive back play, so the first-round choice looks to be a stellar long-term addition to the defense.

But both players know their second year will be a new test of their talent as expectations are naturally bigger and now with Russell Wilson at QB, the stakes are higher.

“I expect a lot. I expect tremendous play out there,” Surtain said Thursday after practice. “We have tremendous talent on the perimeter and on the inside, so it should be a very exciting year. We’re going to make a lot of plays and we’re going to be ballhawks, so it should be very fun.”

Surtain, who has grown up in the NFL with a father playing corner for the Dolphins and Chiefs between 1998 and 2008, knows that the best improvement at this level comes from just more reps.

“I think that the next step is to keep on building ... keep on learning every day because in the league, you learn from experience,” he said. “That’s what I’m doing.”

Williams is feeling more confident as he enters his second year as a pro. Playing football as a rookie wasn’t hard for the former Tar Heel, but learning how to manage his schedule took some getting used to.

Now he’s got that down and he can just focus on the craft.

“I feel like the hardest part last year wasn’t football, it was really off the field,” he said, adding that all the media obligations and sponsorships was “taxing” on the football schedule.

“I knew that when you come to the NFL, you have media and things like that,” Williams added. “As soon as you finish with practice, people want you here and here and you need to study, so you just need to know how to manage everything.”

Surtain and Williams both seemed to manage it all quite well as both were thrust into major roles almost from the get-go. Now they’re planning to pick up where they left off.

For Williams, that means just running and running and running.

“Really, just working on your technique because it’s hard for the o-line to block when they can’t grab,” he said, noting that the defense is “always going to get into the backfield. Really, just keep running—even if the play blew up—and just try to make it work.”

Of course for Surtain, trying to play against Russell Wilson is already adding a dimension to his game.

“It’s helps me a lot, going against premiere talent like that with a great quarterback and great perimeter players. That helps me as a player and [helps] build on my game. It’s always great going against them,” Surtain II said, adding that Wilson is “very dynamic.”

“His second-play mentality — where he’s making something out of nothing with his scrambling ability — that’s something that defenses may fear,” Surtain II said. “His ability to utilize his legs and create plays on his own—that’s something special about him.”

Williams is having fun in his second offensive scheme, which he considers the most complex he’s played in his young career.

“Every meeting that we have, we talk about confusion. We want everything to look the same so that way the defense doesn’t know when a different play is coming,” he said. “I feel like this is the most complex offense that I have been in, but I feel like it will be the best because you never know what’s coming at you.”

Surtain and the secondary have certainly had some fits covering Wilson and the offense, but he sees it only as helping him get better - especially when covering the gauntlet of AFC West receivers he’s going to face.

“It’s been very competitive so far. We’ve been going at it for sure. Offense vs. defense—we’re just doing good on good,” he said. “Iron sharpens iron, so we’re making plays and the offense is making plays. It’s just good battles going on right now.”

Docllv’s picks of the day

Broncos name season-long defensive coaching fellowship after Ring of Famer Billy Thompson
DeAndre Thompson will serve as the inaugural Billy Thompson Diversity Coaching fellow.

‘Forgotten Four’ of Marion Motley, Woody Strode, Kenny Washington, Bill Willis selected for Ralph Hay Pioneer Award
Known as the “Forgotten Four,” Marion Motley, Woody Strode, Kenny Washington and Bill Willis reintegrated pro football in 1946, and have now been selected to share the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Ralph Hay Pioneer Award during enshrinement week.

Broncos/NFL News

Pat Surtain’s thoughts on rookie corners make them worth watching - DenverFan
It might be easy to overlook a pair of Day 3 picks, but Surtain has seen something in Damarri Mathis and Faion Hicks.

Why NFL.com thinks fans should jump on the Javonte Williams bandwagon
"All eyes are on Russell Wilson, and rightfully so — he changes everything for Denver...But if defenders solely focus on Wilson, it will be to their detriment."

The biggest lesson Pat Surtain learned as a rookie was off the field - DenverFan
Both Surtain and Javonte Williams pointed to the same thing when asked about the most important thing they learned as rookies.

Retired Broncos player listing Cherry Hills Farm mansion for almost $10 million
Retired Denver Broncos offensive lineman Orlando Franklin is putting his Cherry Hills Farm mansion on the market for $9.95 million.

Mat and Justin Ishbia among bidders to buy Denver Broncos | 9news.com
Mat Ishbia is a former national champion basketball player at Michigan State. He and his brother Justin recently visited with Broncos and team sale reps.

OTA highlights, Day 2: Russell Wilson continues to build chemistry with Broncos offense
Watch highlights from the Broncos' second practice of OTAs.

Photos: An inside look at Day 3 of the Broncos' 2022 OTA practices
Take an inside look at the Broncos' third practice of the 2022 OTA slate.

Pat Surtain's thoughts on rookie corners make them worth watching - DenverFan
It might be easy to overlook a pair of Day 3 picks, but Surtain has seen something in Damarri Mathis and Faion Hicks.

Ryan Tannehill-Malik Willis situation spotlights the challenging -- yet vital -- nature of QB mentorship
After ruffling some feathers by stating that it's not his job to help rookie quarterback Malik Willis, Ryan Tannehill clarified his comments this week, saying he plans to be the best teammate possible. Jeffri Chadiha feels the situation spotlights the cha

Raiders coach Josh McDaniels declines to discuss Colin Kaepernick workout
Las Vegas Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels declined on Thursday to comment to reporters on Colin Kaepernick's workout, stating that he does not discuss players who are not currently on roster.

Ryan Tannehill-Malik Willis situation spotlights the challenging -- yet vital -- nature of QB mentorship
After ruffling some feathers by stating that it's not his job to help rookie quarterback Malik Willis, Ryan Tannehill clarified his comments this week, saying he plans to be the best teammate possible. Jeffri Chadiha feels the situation spotlights the cha

NFL bandwagons to hop on in 2022: New Orleans Saints, Trevor Lawrence, Josh McDaniels top the list
Who do you believe in for the coming NFL campaign? 'Tis the season to fall in love with players, coaches and teams. Adam Schein provides nine bandwagons to hop on in 2022. Get in before all seats are taken!

NFL roundup: Latest league news from Thursday, May 26
With starter Lamar Jackson absent from OTAs, the Baltimore Ravens signed a backup quarterback on Thursday in veteran Brett Hundley.

Improving the Pro Bowl: A 5-step process to fix the NFL all-star game - The Athletic
The NFL is interested in trying a new format for the Pro Bowl. Lindsay Jones has a plan for how to truly make it must-see TV.