After last season’s virtual draft, Cleveland is playing host to festivities this year with a handful of potential draft picks present and socially distanced because of COVID-19.
Here’s a pick-by-pick look at how each player Denver has selected will fit.
My take: The Broncos have proven throughout the offseason they like quarterback Drew Lock more than many others do. They largely sat out free agency at the position until they made a trade for Teddy Bridgewater Wednesday. Hours after Bridgewater was in the Broncos’ facility to take a physical and meet the coaches, the Broncos passed on quarterbacks Justin Fields and Mac Jones to take Surtain. Surtain will be an immediate contributor in a defense that signed cornerbacks Ronald Darby and Kyle Fuller in free agency and signed safety Justin Simmons to a long-term extension. Welcome to life in the Patrick Mahomes-led AFC West.
Family affair: Surtain’s father, Patrick, also played at Alabama and then played 11 seasons in the NFL — for the Miami Dolphins and the Kansas City Chiefs. Surtain II has said his father had an enormous impact in his pursuit to follow him into the NFL. Surtain II had a necklace made before the draft that had a Playstation video game controller on a chain — the “PS2.” Many scouts and coaches in the league have said Surtain II consistently shows awareness in his game, which comes from having spent so much time talking with his father. Defensive coaches said it’s consistently clear when Surtain II seems to decipher the routes before the receivers are finished running them so he is in position to play the ball first.
Top shelf talent: This past season Alabama’s associate defensive coordinator Charles Kelly compared Surtain II to Pro Bowl cornerback Jalen Ramsey. With the Broncos having signed Darby and Fuller in free agency, Surtain’s arrival will give them versatility in their nickel and dime packages — the Broncos were in the specialty packages over 70% percent of the time last season — given Fuller can move around from the outside and into the slot. Surtain, like many defensive backs coached by Nick Saban with the Crimson Tide, is well versed in a variety of looks, so the learning curve should be shorter for him. Earlier this offseason season Broncos general manager George Paton called the NFL a “rush and cover league” and the pick of Surtain confirms how strongly Paton felt that way.
What’s next: Paton is always looking to move around the board, but the Broncos will head into Day 2 with two picks — one in the second round (No. 40) and one in the third round (No. 71). They will look at deep group of wide receivers and interior offensive linemen, but the edge rushers still on the board, given Von Miller will be in the last year of his deal in 2021, will also give them pause.