Denver Broncos drafting Pat Surtain II over Justin Fields was the right move

CLEVELAND, OHIO - APRIL 29: Patrick Surtain II poses with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell onstage after being selected ninth by the Denver Broncos during round one of the 2021 NFL Draft at the Great Lakes Science Center on April 29, 2021 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OHIO - APRIL 29: Patrick Surtain II poses with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell onstage after being selected ninth by the Denver Broncos during round one of the 2021 NFL Draft at the Great Lakes Science Center on April 29, 2021 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

A popular debate within the Denver Broncos fanbase, whether drafting Patrick Surtain II over Justin Fields was the right move, has been reinvigorated.

Objectively speaking, George Paton has been a stellar General Manager so far for the Denver Broncos.

He took over before the 2021 NFL Draft after the team had gone 5-11 in 2020.  It was an unbelievably ugly season for the Broncos, and Paton had quite a bit on his plate to fix.

One of the first major events during his tenure was his first draft as a GM.  The team had seen Drew Lock sputter a bit in 2020, partly due to the new offensive coordinator in Pat Shurmur and various COVID restrictions that prevented the young offense from fully immersing themselves in the playbook.

Part of his solution was to swing a trade for Teddy Bridgewater, raising the floor of the Denver Broncos quarterback room and giving the team what appeared to be a quality option in case Drew Lock imploded.

A day before the draft, the team had made the trade for Bridgewater, putting doubt on whether or not the team would select a quarterback in the next day’s first round.

Broncos Country appeared to be split on this issue, as many thought that Drew Lock did not get a fair shot in 2020 after the team had fired Rich Scangarello in 2019 when Lock actually showed flashes.

Others thought that Drew Lock was a lost cause overall and were largely banging the table for the team to draft a quarterback.

It seemed like a safe bet that both Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson wouldn’t be available, so the fanbase most commonly turned to Trey Lance, Mac Jones, and Justin Fields as potential fits for the team.

As we know, the team passed on Justin Fields and Mac Jones, as Trey Lance went third overall, and took future All-Pro Patrick Surtain II, who is already viewed as one of the very best cornerbacks in the league and is a firm anchor for an elite secondary in Denver.

There have been some notable figures within the Broncos Country landscape who have rather large platforms that have said that picking Surtain over Fields was and is still the wrong move.

They suggest it’s “revisionist history” to claim that Surtain was the right pick, and appear to waste their energy angrily typing 1,400 words on the topic.

Sure, I’m writing a rebuttal, as I think the original article in question is journalistic malpractice, and I’ll tell you why I think such.

It wasn’t just the Denver Broncos who passed on Justin Fields

Those who were and still are fixated on the team picking Surtain over Fields really seem to indict the Broncos for doing this.  They claim that George Paton made an outrageously wrong decision in doing so, but other teams who had a much more dire quarterback situation did the same thing.

-Both the Jaguars and Jets decided that Lawrence and Wilson were better picks than Fields.

-The 49ers traded up to draft Trey Lance, who many thought wasn’t as good of a prospect as Fields

-The Falcons, Dolphins, and Lions, who all currently have long-term quarterback questions, passed on Fields

-The Panthers, who had traded for Sam Darnold weeks before, didn’t think that Justin Fields was the right answer either.

So ask yourself, why does it seem like the fanbase was so bent on indicting the Broncos for passing on Fields?  Would they have the same energy for the other teams I just listed who also passed on the player?

The Panthers’ 2021 quarterback situation was putrid–I wonder if those within Broncos Country who wanted the team to take Fields think the Panthers should have also drafted Fields before Denver could have gotten to him.

I’d also ask why Fields fell down the boards the way he did.  In fact, the Chicago Bears ended up trading way up to the 11th overall selection to take Fields, so who knows if Fields would have fallen further.

Clearly, there were other teams who weren’t comfortable taking Fields.  Draft rooms filled with scouting experts with decades of experience largely concluded that their clubs would be better off not drafting Justin Fields, and instead drafting players like Kyle Pitts, Ja’Marr Chase, Jaylen Waddle, Penei Sewell, etc.

The quarterback is the single most important position in the history of sports, and a position that teams must get right if they want to win Super Bowls, so you would think that teams who don’t have a long-term answer at the position would be willing to take a swing like drafting Fields.

There is/was a clear issue with Justin Fields’ game that turn off teams from drafting him, and I think it’s a matter of time before that reason comes to light.

Why are people still wasting energy on this?

Back to a previous point I made, I also find it weird that people within Broncos Country are still wasting energy on this debate.  Seriously, who cares at this point?  The Broncos now have a first-ballot Hall of Fame quarterback and future All-Pro cornerback on their roster.

There’s no need to dwell on the past at this point.  Patrick Surtain II is a Denver Bronco, and likely will stay a Bronco for the prime of his career.  He’s got the talent and acumen necessary to become a truly elite defender in the NFL.

I still think that certain people in the fanbase find reasons to generate clicks and stay miserable.  George Paton knew what needed to be done when he inherited the team as the GM.  He knew that the Denver Broncos needed a long-term signal caller, and he had opportunities to take Justin Fields and Mac Jones during last year’s draft.

Why wouldn’t Paton take a swing at either player?  I was reliably told that Justin Fields was a great prospect.  Clearly, George Paton and his scouting crew, who likely have over 100 combined years of experience in the business, did not think that Justin Fields was the right answer for the Denver Broncos.

Those who are still upset by this simply need to move on.