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Mile High Morning: ESPN picks Pat Surtain II to final 2021 top-10 rookie ranking

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The Lead

With the regular season in the books, ESPN'S Jeff Legwold has ranked the top 10 rookies from 2021, and one of Denver's standout talents made the cut.

Pat Surtain II, whom the Broncos selected at No. 9 overall in April, had an impressive rookie season. The defensive playmaker lands at No. 7 on Legwold's list.

"Denver coach Vic Fangio was willing to put Surtain across from the best of the best every week without worry," Legwold wrote. "The top-10 pick wasn't often challenged by quarterbacks, who usually chose not to pick on the rookie, but he tended to get his hands on the ball when they did."

Surtain finished his first NFL season with 58 tackles, four INTs, 14 passes defensed and a touchdown, impressing with his talent and composure on the field.

Surtain was consistently praised by coaches and teammates for his professionalism and work ethic on and off the field. He has been exactly who the Broncos expected him to be so far, and he should have a bright future in the league as he continues to evolve into a top corner.

"Surtain missed the Broncos' season finale with a calf injury" Legwold wrote, "but up until that point, he consistently played with the composure of a 'guy who's been in there for years,' Broncos safety Justin Simmons said."

Below the Fold

Late Thursday night, the Broncos announced they had completed an interview with Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O'Connell, who could be the next person from the Sean McVay coaching tree to get a head-coaching job.

While McVay is generally considered the Rams offense's leader because of his background and play-calling duties, O'Connell's role on offense can't be overlooked, as The Athletic's Nick Kosmider writes.

"The Rams, who face the Buccaneers in an NFC divisional round playoff game Sunday, are two wins away from a Super Bowl appearance," Kosmider wrote. "If they get there, O'Connell's fingerprints will be all over the championship path."

The Unclassifieds

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