The Future: 2021 NFL Draft Prospects Patrick Surtain II
Patrick Surtain II is the son of former Miami Dolphin and Kansas City Chief, all-pro cornerback Patrick Surtain. He is my number one ranked corner in this draft class ahead of Virginia Tech's Caleb Farley. At 6'1", 203lbs, he has the size and length that NFL teams are looking for in a top tier corner. He is a patient corner with excellent technique and great physicality. The biggest question on him will be his top-end speed in the deep areas of the field. Below I will discuss his abilities in man coverage, his ball skills, his line of scrimmage (LOS) skills, how well he plays in run support, and how well he is at tackling in the open field.
Man Coverage- Surtain is the best man coverage corner in the draft. He is very technically sound and is at his best when playing in press. His feet and hips are both very fluid to be able to turn and run with receivers. On deep routes, he does a good job of pinning receivers to the sideline and he knows how to use the leverage of the sideline as well as his teammates to his advantage. He is physical throughout the entire route which will lead to some penalties but he doesn't need to be grabby to stay in phase with receivers. His top-end speed again is the biggest question mark but he doesn't win on athleticism, he wins on technique, positioning, and an elite ability to mirror. He is also versatile enough to be able to bump inside and play in the slot but he is best when aligned as an outside corner.
Ball Skills- Since he is often in phase he has the opportunity to make a play on the ball and his ball skills are very good. He gets his head around to find the ball easily and makes a play on it. He is very physical/aggressive at the catch point, especially on routes coming back to the quarterback, which can lead to penalties but also leads to a lot of passes defended. One area that makes his ability to make a play on the ball very good is the fact that he plays through receives hands very well. Even when a receiver can complete a catch, he still makes pass breakups due to the fact that he can always play through the hands of the receiver.
LOS Skills- He is very patient at the LOS. He waits for the receiver to commit before he flips his hips and runs with. His hands at the LOS are very good. He is strong and lengthy to be able to get hands onto receivers and even when he misses his targets he has shown the ability to be able to recover and still get hands-on.
Run Support- His willingness to come up and help in run support is very good. He does a good job in closing the space between him and the ball carrier and although he isn't a big hitter he does a good job of bringing the ball carrier to the ground. His positioning and leverage are usually good as he knows how to use his teammates and the sideline to his advantage.
Open Field Tackling- When tasked with having to make tackles in the open field, Surtain is very good, especially when looking at his ability in comparison to Caleb Farley. Surtain's length helps him with making open-field tackles. He does a good job of closing space, breaking down, and wrapping up the legs of the runner. He is not a corner who is going to dive at the ball carrier's ankles but he isn't going to make big hits either. He is a wrap-up, leg tackler and is very consistent with it.
I have Surtain as my top-ranked corner because of his combination to play man coverage, his ball skills, and his consistency when it comes to tackling. He may not possess the upside that Farley does due to the athletic ability difference but Surtain is a player who is going to be able to come into the league and play man coverage consistently from day one. His technique, fundamentals, and size are something that every NFL team looks for in a number one, man corner and all of these abilities will translate well to the next level for Surtain.