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'I'd always pull up his film': Potential first-round Alabama CBs Terrion Arnold and Kool-Aid McKinstry hone skills by watching Pat Surtain II


INDIANAPOLIS — As a pair of Alabama cornerbacks prepare likely to be selected in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft, both Terrion Arnold and Kool-Aid McKinstry have looked to Broncos All-Pro cornerback and Crimson Tide alum Pat Surtain II to help hone their own games.

"Everything Pat does, he does it extremely well," Arnold said Thursday at the 2024 NFL Combine. "So with that being said, I used to go back and watch his old tape [and see] how he practiced.

"At Alabama, we liked to say Pat is a robot. No matter who he's guarding — it could be DeVonta Smith, Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle — he's going to step, step, get his hands on him, and he never panics. So I mean, Pat, he's the best cornerback in the game right now."

McKinstry said he believes he and Surtain share similar playing styles and that he also referenced Surtain's tape while in college.

"We kind of have the same playing style, whether it's playing press man or playing zone," McKinstry said. "We came, of course, from the same college and same coach [in] Coach [Nick] Saban, so we were taught the same things. If I ever wanted to just look at something back when I was in college … I'd always pull up his film and see how he did it and just kind of add it to my game."

Both Arnold and McKinstry were named first-team All-Americans following their final season at Alabama, and Arnold has been among the players routinely mocked to the Broncos in the early stages of the draft process. Arnold, who tied for the SEC lead in interceptions in 2023, said Thursday that he met with the Broncos at the Combine.

After playing across from McKinstry in Tuscaloosa,Arnold said it would be similarly enjoyable to pair with Surtain in Denver.

"Playing next to Pat, it would be like playing next to Kool-Aid," Arnold said. "I mean, you would have somebody at the next level that you could look at that would challenge you, push you to be better. He's already proven it in the NFL. I would love to do that if I had the opportunity."

Arnold, who could be the top cornerback off the board in April's NFL Draft, said he's had conversations with Surtain about his lofty goals for the future. At former Alabama safety Jordan Battle's draft party in 2023, Arnold told Surtain that "coming out next year, I'm going to be the best corner in the class."

Surtain has experience in that area, as he's the most accomplished cornerback from the 2021 draft class and has earned two Pro Bowl selections in his first three seasons.

Arnold, perhaps in Denver, hopes to find similar success — and he's spurred by a performance in a loss to Tennessee in 2022.

"My redshirt freshman year, after we played Tennessee, I got benched," Arnold said. "And I've been telling all the NFL teams, that right there, it changed everything for me. I kind of like to say I had my Michael Jordan moment. I write it down every day. … When I got benched and replaced … it motivated me. I write it down every day and say, 'I refuse to ever let that happen again.' That's what's going to lead me and take me to getting that gold jacket, which is the Hall of Fame. A gold jacket, and I ain't talking about the one you can buy. That moment right there, from then on, I refused to let that happen."

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