ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — With his first pick as the Broncos' general manager, George Paton has added a top-tier player to the Broncos' defense.
After an early run on offensive players, Denver selected the second defensive player of the 2021 NFL Draft as they added Alabama cornerback Patrick Surtain II with the ninth-overall pick.
A three-year starter for the Crimson Tide, Surtain was widely considered the top available cornerback prospect in this year's draft. He was the second cornerback off the board behind Jaycee Horn.
Surtain earned Freshman All-American honors in 2018 as he started 12 games for Alabama as they advanced to the national title game. He followed that campaign by starting all 13 games and recording three forced fumbles, two interceptions and 10 passes defensed in 2019. Surtain capped his career by starting all 13 games in 2020 and helping Alabama earn another national championship. Surtain recorded 12 passes defensed and returned an interception for a touchdown as he was named an unanimous first-team All-American, the SEC Defensive Player of the Year and a first-team All-SEC player.
The 6-foot-2, 208-pound player allowed just four touchdown receptions and a 46.1 completion percentage in 41 career games.
Surtain was readily available for the Crimson Tide, as he started 38 consecutive games to end his career and played in every game over the last three seasons. The Broncos' newest cornerback also has NFL pedigree, as he is the son of former Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Surtain Sr.
The Broncos had not drafted a defensive player in the first round since 2018, when the team used the fifth-overall pick to select Bradley Chubb. Denver had used seven of its last eight top-50 picks on offensive players and had not used a Round 1 or 2 pick on a defender since Head Coach Vic Fangio joined the team in 2019.
Surtain is the first defensive back to be taken in the first round by the Broncos since the team took Bradley Roby in 2014.
In Denver, Surtain will join a talented cornerback group that includes Ronald Darby, Kyle Fuller, Bryce Callahan and young players like Michael Ojemudia and Essang Bassey.