The Denver Broncos bypassed drafting a first-round quarterback in 2021. Instead, they plucked Alabama corner Patrick Surtain II, who the club believes will be a lock-down defender in Vic Fangio's system.
Thus far, the reviews from Broncos training camp have been overwhelmingly positive. Surtain has caught on so quickly that Denver has put more on the rookie's plate, working him in multiple DB spots. Fangio noted Monday that it's unusual for a first-year player to be such a quick study.
"It's rare. It's rare that you would ask a rookie to do that, No. 1, and it's rare that he's been able to handle it and do it," Fangio said, via the team's official transcript. "Now, he's not perfected any of them yet, by any means, but we think he can, and it's not too big for him."
It's not just the coach. Teammates have also glowed about the rookie's transition.
"He's handled it like a pro," said linebacker Bradley Chubb. "He's been here. You've seen the guys say he's picking up things like he's a vet. I see nothing different. He's carrying himself with a confidence and a swag. That's what you love to see in a rookie, especially a DB. That position gets challenged a lot, whether it's deep balls or guarding the best athletes in the world. He's been doing a really good job with it and we're excited to see him when the season comes."
Fangio noted that Surtain's ability to cross-train at multiple secondary spots should open up the ability for the Broncos to be more flexible in 2021, including more six-DB sets. The coach noted that he probably would've doubled his six-DB usage last season if it weren't for injuries. With Surtain's intelligence and physical attributes added to a remade secondary that on paper looks to be among the best in the NFL, the Broncos' back end should be dangerous.
"I'm just taking it day-by-day, learning every position just in case the team needs me in certain spots," Surtain said of camp thus far. "I'm just picking up on the playbook and translating it on to the field. ...
"I'm just out here controlling what I can control at the end of the day. I'm just looking forward to playing the season with my teammates-just building on that, playing my game and being the best player I can be."