Alabama cornerback Patrick Surtain II brings an impressive resume and strong family genes to the 2021 NFL Draft. His experience as a starter against top competition in the SEC, combined with his physical traits, make him an appealing prospect who possesses shutdown corner potential.
Surtain II is the son of Patrick Surtain, who enjoyed a long and productive NFL career as a defensive back for the Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs. Surtain II has long been recognized as an elite talent dating back to his high school days when he was ranked as a five-star prospect out of American Heritage High School in Plantation, Florida. Surtain II was considered a top-10 overall prospect in his recruiting class and chose Alabama over 24 other schools, including Clemson, Georgia, and LSU.
Surtain II became an immediate fixture in Alabama’s defense, earning significant playing time as a true freshman before locking down a starting job in his sophomore season. In total, Surtain II started 38 games for the Crimson Tide and ended his final season as a consensus All-American and Pro Football Focus’ highest-graded cornerback in 2020. Surtain II finished last season with 37 tackles and one interception, bringing his career totals to 116 tackles, six tackles for loss, and four interceptions.
Physically, Surtain II has everything teams covet in shutdown cornerback prospects. At 6-1, 203 pounds, Surtain II has the length and mass required to challenge the NFL’s bigger wideouts while also having the necessary muscle to play strong against the run.
Athletically, Surtain II is smooth in his backpedal and makes changing directions seem effortless. He has good short-area burst, but his long speed is just average. His length and high football IQ help him recover in situations that lesser defensive backs would likely lose the rep, making his straight-line speed less of a concern.
Surtain II is a sticky coverage corner who plays with very good anticipation and route recognition. He mirrors opposing wide receivers well and is rarely fooled by head fakes, shoulder fakes, or jab steps. He’s calm, composed, and always in control of his body when reacting to his opponent. Surtain II has a strong upper body and is a handful in press coverage. He can jam bigger receivers at the line of scrimmage and disrupt their route’s timing. He’s equally effective in off coverage because of his high-level technique and long-time exposure to the game. He flips his hips and runs with his opponent effectively and rarely gets put in a blender.
Surtain II doesn’t have gaudy interception numbers, but he’s effective playing the ball and breaking up passes. His length and physicality are weapons he uses to his advantage in contested catch situations.
Surtain II is a physical player against the run who is more than willing to step up and play like a safety in run support. He’s balanced and coordinated in space and will be viewed as an asset when plays are run in his direction. What he lacks in long speed and elite downfield coverage skills he more than makes up for as a run defender.
Overall, Surtain II is the most well-rounded cornerback prospect in the 2021 NFL Draft. There are prospects who have more twitch and some who are better finishers on the ball. But Surtain II is the one defensive back in this year’s draft who can do everything at the level of a high-end, quality NFL starter. He isn’t going to wait long to hear his name called in Round 1, and he’ll begin his career as a definite starter as a boundary cornerback in Week 1 of the 2021 season.
GRADE: 8.2 (first round)