Earlier this offseason, Broncos cornerback Pat Surtain II made his debut at 49th overall on the NFL Top 100, a ranking voted on by his fellow players. But it's not only his NFL peers that hold Surtain in high regard.
On Monday, The Athletic released a list of the top 25 players under 25 years old, along with a starting lineup of players under 25. Both lists used the input of seven league executives and five coaches, and Surtain's standout sophomore campaign earned him plenty of attention. Surtain ranked as the fourth-best player under 25 and the top defensive back.
"The Alabama product has made his mark, earning first-team All-Rookie (2021) and All-Pro honors (2022), and is expected to only strengthen his standing as one of the best cornerbacks in the league," The Athletic's Mike Jones wrote.
In the under-25 defensive lineup, Surtain joined New York Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner, Dallas Cowboys cornerback Trevon Diggs, San Francisco 49ers safety Talanoa Hufanga and Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Antoine Winfield, Jr. in the secondary.
"Good luck throwing on this trio of ball-hawking, versatile defensive backs, who rank among the best at any current age grouping," Jones said of the three cornerbacks.
Surtain built on a standout rookie season in his second year, starting all 17 games and earning first-team All Pro honors. He also impressed against the league's best receivers, including strong road performances against two division rivals, Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams and Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Davante Adams.
"Of course, I'm looking at myself as the best, but I mean, I ain't going to [get] into the politics, get into the rankings and all the stuff," Surtain said after the Broncos' July 31 training camp practice. "I'm just playing my game and sharpening my tools every day, sharpen my skill set and make sure I keep on getting better each and every week. That's my main focus: just getting better for the team and focusing on that."