By Dylan MacKinnon
Patrick Surtain II is the definition of having NFL Pedigree. His dad played in the NFL at a All-Pro level. He played ball at a top High School in Florida and developed into a top 10 recruit. He went to one of the biggest Powerhouse College programs in Alabama, and as a freshmen quickly became a key defensive piece playing in 15 games. And now after winning a National Championship he is a potential Top 10 pick in the draft. The name helps, but he earned his way to this moment.
It’s not often you see a freshmen get a ton of run at Alabama. In fact if you go through this year’s depth chart, you won’t find many players with FR next to their name. Surtain quickly became a starter, and a Freshmen All American to boot. During his true freshmen year he played 15 total games with13 starts. In that time he had 7 pass deflections, an interception, and a forced fumble.
“You know, we sort of brought him along in the first couple games, we just played him about half the time, and then he became a starter, and he’s just done a really good job, and he’s a phenomenal person. Really never been in my office since he’s been there for not doing what he’s supposed to do. He’s really conscientious, good person, cares about other people, cares about his teammates, and is very conscientious in his work. I think all those characteristics have helped him to be able to play early on and play very effectively.”- Bama Head Coach Nick Saban before the 2018 Orange Bowl
Overall he started 38 straight games for Bama. In 2019 he was the wingman to future 2nd round pick Trevon Diggs. This year he was the star, and he did not disappoint. He was a unanimous All-American. He was also a Finalist for the Bednarik, Lott, Nagurski, and Thorpe awards. He shut down almost every one he encountered during his career at Alabama.
Patrick Surtain II played 41 games at Alabama.— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) February 23, 2021
He allowed over 70 yards just once. pic.twitter.com/TRgSCin8MO
For reference, that one game was the Orange Bowl vs Cee Dee Lamb. But still, only one game where he allowed over 70 yards in 3 years at Bama. Doesn’t get more shutdown than that.
Playing vs the Best
He played in the premier College Conference, vs premier offenses his entire career, and still he rarely ever had a bad game. He went into SEC championship weekend having allowed only 1 touchdown, and allowing less than 25 yards in 9 of those 10 games. And that’s with playing some top offenses.
Georgia WRS George Pickens and Kearis Jackson are one of the best WR Duos in the NCAA. Alabama held the pair under 100 yards combined. He held Notre Dame’s Javon McKinley to only two catches for 20 yards. None of the Ohio State WRs had over 70 yards in the National Championship game after Chris Olave had put up 132 yards vs Clemson the game before. Earlier, he held Arkansas’s Trelon Burks to only 16 yards on two catches. These are some of the best WRS from the SEC, and he smothered them. He played high caliber WRS all season, and made them all look pedestrian.
The one game that stands out in 2020 is Florida in the SEC Championship. That turned into a shootout, and one Surtain found himself the victim in a few times. Kyle Pitts beat him over the middle once for a first down. Later Trevon Grimes beat him for a 50 yard TD. He still stayed under 70 yards given up on the game. And he played a much better in the National Championship the next week.
Its a bit of a Cliché, but it’s true. SEC Defensive Backs tend to be better. And Alabama ones even more so. There is a reason Bama alums took more snaps in the NFL at DB than any other school last year.
Most snaps played by DBs in the NFL this season:— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) March 10, 2021
1. Alabama - 7.5k
2. Florida - 6.4k
3. Ohio State - 6.2k
4. LSU - 5.6k
5. Texas - 4.3k
6. Washington - 4.2k pic.twitter.com/Ujda5sVIKi
What the Experts Say
“The junior cornerback’s length, discipline, and mild-mannered playing style are the best attributes of his game. Surtain II’s deep speed will be the biggest question that he will need to answer on the next level as there have been some occurrences of where he’s surrendered throws into the deeper portions of the field. Surtain II is best served as a boundary corner where he can defend the short side of the field. His size and length could disrupt the windows of quick throws to the perimeter, but also it condenses the space that he has to turn and cover.”
“He’s very quick to anticipate in zone coverage and will drive on balls in front of him. He’s fluid in his movement and understands how to read route combinations to position himself for plays. He’s very willing and effective against the run, too. He fights through blocks and is a reliable tackler in space.
Where he needs to improve: Surtain is very smooth and athletic, but he lacks elite short-area quickness. This showed up in the South Carolina game last fall. When he gets widened out and is forced to redirect versus slant routes, he lacks the twitch to stay hugged to the hip of the receiver. He also utilizes a wheel turn (turns his back to the receiver and wheels around) at times instead of flipping open his inside hip. Some coaches teach this technique, but I believe it creates too much separation. This is always going to be a challenge for big cornerbacks like Surtain. The advantages of his size and physicality far outweigh the disadvantages, though.”
Surtain feels like a safe bet. He played at a very high level in the SEC from the start of career. No one he has been around has anything but praise for him. He played vs some of the best receivers college has to offer, and held his own nearly every time. there is some concern about his speed, but that never seemed to hurt him in College. If Eagles are looking for someone to pair with Darius Slay, they can’t do much better than Surtain in the draft.