2021 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Patrick Surtain
By Charlie Campbell
Summary: Patrick Surtain II had no issues living up to the large expectations he brought to Alabama. Being the son of a Pro Bowl cornerback who played for over a decade in the NFL with the Dolphins and Chiefs, Surtain saw the field as a freshman. Alabama consistently features a loaded secondary, so it can be hard for young players to see the field. Surtain, however, was the exception, as the star recruit got a lot of playing time for a freshman under Nick Saban. Surtain played well in 2018, recording 28 tackles with an interception, seven passes defended and one forced fumble. He looked like he was just scratching the surface of his potential. As a sophomore in 2019, Surtain had 42 tackles with two interceptions, three forced fumbles and eight passes broken up in 2019.
Surtain played well in 2020 and was a steady cover corner for Alabama. He was the team's No. 1 corner and did a good job of limiting top receivers on the opposition. Against Mississippi State, he had four tackles, two breakups, and a short pick-six in garbage time. He turned in a solid game against Georgia. Surtain made some good breakups against Tennessee, but he was also beaten for a touchdown from about 30 yards out. Taking on Florida, Surtain collected two passes broken up and three tackles, but he was also burned by Trevon Grimes on a 50-yard touchdown. Surtain played well in the college football playoff to help Alabama beat Notre Dame and Ohio State en route to winning another National Championship. Surtain totaled 38 tackles, 11 passes broken up and a pick-six in 2020.
There is a lot to like about Surtain for the NFL, as he looks like he could be a quality starter quickly as a pro, especially if he is drafted into a system that plays a lot of press man. Surtain has excellent size, with height and length that make it very difficult to get passes around him. Along with height and length, Surtain has developed strength to fight off receivers and maintain good positioning for contested passes. Surtain's height and length also helps him to have nice recoverability to narrow the space and close the window for completing passes.
As a corner, Surtain has good feel, instincts, and advanced technique. He plays the ball really well, showing impressive ball skills for a big corner. When Surtain is in close coverage, it can be a dangerous proposition to throw his direction. as he is very capable of getting his hands on the ball to snatch it away or deflect it away from the receiver.
The big question with all large cornerbacks is how well they run. and Surtain has the speed necessary to play in the NFL. He is fast in the straight line yet is able to turn and run with receivers. While Surtain is not a blazer, he has enough quickness to run down the sideline and keep receivers from burning him over the top. He won't be one of the fastest corners in the NFL, but his speed won't make him a liability.
There are some limitations for Surtain in the NFL, and his pro defensive coordinator would be wise to not match him up against smaller speed receivers. Surtain is not a twitchy corner and has some change-of-direction problems. Thus, he is better suited to line up on the outside against big receivers and not a fit to move inside to the slot. Being an outside-only corner is not the end of the world, but it cuts down on Surtain's versatility for his pro defense. His lack of twitch and his change-of-direction issues are common with big corners, and that makes him a better fit for playing press-man corner. He is not a good fit to play off-man coverage against NFL receivers.
After a little time adjusting to the NFL, Surtain should be off and running as a starter. He has the potential to be a good pro.
Player Comparison: Carlton Davis. There are a lot of similarities between Davis and Surtain. Davis (6-1, 206) is almost identical in size and has some of the same strengths and limitations as Surtain. Both of them are big corners with instincts, ball skills, and a physical style of play. They also can have issues with twitchy speed receivers.
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