Eagles Prospect Profile: Patrick Surtain II

With the offseason in full-swing and the NFL Draft less than seven weeks away, we take a look at another player who could be available at six overall in our latest Eagles prospect profile: Alabama CB Patrick Surtain II.

Surtain comes from an NFL bloodline as the son of former All-Pro corner and 3x Pro-Bowler Patrick Surtain, who spent most of his decorated career in Miami (1998-04) before finishing out four productive seasons in Kansas City (2005-08). The younger Surtain certainly profiles as the son of a former player (and current high school coach) as he’s well-versed in the fundamentals of his position and plays with a level of on-field discipline that’s rare for his age.

When you combine all the foundational advantages of growing up and learning from a former NFL player with the polish, discipline, and standards indoctrinated at Alabama, you end up with a prospect like Surtain: high-IQ, technically-sound, and accountable. Not just anyone can be a full-time starter as a true freshman for the Crimson Tide, and Surtain was able to walk onto campus and earn that job immediately—a testament to his character/work ethic, just as much his athletic-ability.

Put simply, Surtain is a coach’s dream, and there aren’t many corner prospects who enter the league with his level of polish and pro-readiness. What separates him from your typical “league ready” corner, are is physical/athletic gifts. At 6’2” 205 he’s the sort of long and physical body that NFL defenses covet, and while he doesn’t have elite speed or twitch he’s a plus athlete with smooth mobility for his size.

A few weeks ago I ranked Surtain as my ninth overall prospect in the class, and the second rated cornerback behind Caleb Farley (Virginia Tech). Here’s what I said then:

“Surtain comes from an NFL bloodline and he looks every bit of it. His size, length, athleticism, and overall physicality are elite for a corner, and strong technique puts his stock over the top. The one knock compared to Farley is a lack of top-end speed, and for that reason he may always be scheme specific. Nonetheless, he’s a strong prospect for man-heavy teams.”

In terms of fit, Surtain has more value to press-heavy teams who lean toward man-coverage, but it’d be a mistake to describe him as scheme-specific. At Alabama he gained plenty of experience in quarters and three-deep coverage, where he showed-off instinctive positioning and feel for zone responsibilities; often blowing up the point of catch with explosive burst and leaping ability.

To boot, Surtain is a strong and willing tackler at the LOS, and is efficient in limiting YAC opportunities downfield. Long strides, good instincts, and sound technique is what allows him to rally to the ball and be a plus run defender for his position (something we know NFL teams will value).

All-in-all Surtain is a sure-fire prospect who you can pencil in for a long and productive career. He should start from day one, and any team who drafts him should expect his pro transition to be near-seamless.

If there’s one knock of him it’s in terms of his ceiling. Some evaluators believe his athleticism/twitch is a notch-below where it needs to be to truly be a lockdown corner in the NFL. In my opinion, it’s fair to describe him as a corner who doesn’t have “lockdown” potential on quicker, faster wideouts; but absolutely has the size, technique, and physicality to “lockdown” the bigger wideouts who win on positioning and ball skills.

Considering the level of talent at the top of this draft class we can confidently say Surtain (or Farley) will be available at six overall, and if Howie and the Eagles don’t fall in love with the board as it falls (maybe Smith and Chase are off the table) they should consider trading back a few spots (possibly with Carolina at 8) with the intent of taking their preferred CB prospect and adding a mid-round pick in the process.

Surtain isn’t my favorite corner prospect in the class, and you could argue that he isn’t an ideal fit for the scheme our new defense is expected to run; but if Howie Roseman and the Eagles drafted him at sixth overall (or in a trade back) you could argue it’s the safest move they could make—a decision nobody should disagree with.

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