First-round pick Pat Surtain II has yet to take a regular season snap for the Broncos, but expectations are already sky-high for the rookie cornerback from Alabama.
Surtain exploded onto the scene in his preseason debut, excelling in coverage and hauling in an interception, which he returned for a score. Surtain is making sure that the league knows his name straight out of the gate, and his playmaking ability has earned him high praise from Good Morning Football's Kyle Brandt. Ten days before the start of the regular season, Brandt already sees the Defensive Rookie of the Year Award in Surtain's future.
While GMFB discussed which rookies were most likely to appear on next season's NFL Top 100 list, Brandt went all in on Surtain.
"I think Surtain will be up there [on the NFL Top 100 for 2022] and I think he'll be up there far," Brandt said. "He's your Defensive Rookie of the Year, I'm just going to say it."
Surtain's preseason play has also earned him the top spot among first-round rookie defenders from Pro Football Focus.
Surtain earned a 91.2 overall grade from PFF, the top grade among first-round defenders and the second-highest among all first-round picks, behind only Patriots QB Mac Jones.
Through three preseason games, Surtain played 49 defensivesnaps. In that time, he maintained a 90.8 coverage grade, allowed one reception, enforced a 0.0 passer rating when targeted and recorded a pick-six.
"Surtain came out like a house on fire with a pick-six and pass-breakup in his debut," PFF's Michael Renner said.
Below the Fold
Jonathon Cooper's emergence into the spotlight has been anything but quiet. The seventh-round pick has made noise in each of his preseason opportunities, racking up two sacks, seven hurries, a pass defensed and a forced fumble through three games. He also maintained a 86.7 pass rushing grade through the preseason, according to PFF.
Cooper's disruptive defensive styleearned him the third-highest overall grade among non first-round defenders from PFF, at 88.6 overall.
After being selected at No. 239 overall in this year's NFL draft, Cooper capitalized on every opportunity as he fought for a spot on the Broncos' initial 53-man roster. He spent the preseason showing exactly why he deserved to be a Denver Bronco, and on Tuesday, his hard work paid off. Cooper was among the 53 names remaining after Denver made their last series of cuts.
"It feels amazing, I just feel extremely blessed," Cooper said. "But honestly all my focus is just making this team better. The real work starts now — this is only the beginning."