Denver Broncos: How much will we see Patrick Surtain as a rookie?
The Denver Broncos were quite thin at cornerback following the 2020 season. The team has more than corrected that problem heading into 2021.
Though the team signed both Ronald Darby and Kyle Fuller are free agents, it used its first-round pick on a cornerback as well. Many draft analysts felt that Alabama’s Patrick Surtain was the top corner in the draft and the Broncos made sure to get him in the fold.
However, the team still has Bryce Callahan and last year’s third-round pick, Michael Ojemudia on the roster. This begs the question of how much will Surtain play as a rookie?
It’s assumed that Darby and Fuller will start on the outside but Callahan has the ability to be one of the best nickel corners in the league. The team also likely does not want to stunt the growth of Ojemudia, who made 11 starts as a rookie.
It is likely that Surtain will begin his career rotating in on nickel and dime packages and packages where the team has as many as six defensive backs on the field. In the AFC West where you will go up against the likes of Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert twice a year, those sub-packages will be prevalent.
For the long-term, the team likely wants to see Surtain as a starter on the outside. Fuller was just signed to a one-year deal and if the team moves on from him after this season, Surtain would be in line to be an every-down starter.
And that’s obviously how the team sees him, since it used the No. 9 overall pick in the draft to get him.
But as a rookie, he may not have to do as much. The team will have the luxury to rely on veterans Darby and Fuller and to allow Surtain to grow and develop underneath them.
Surtain will enter the league with plenty of promise. He was the SEC Defensive Player of the Year last season and his father was a three-time Pro Bowl cornerback himself in the early 2000s.
Expectations will be high due to his high draft status, but as a rookie, Surtain will likely be gradually worked in on a game-by-game basis.