For the players talented enough to play for the Alabama Crimson Tide, the players they compete against in practice may be a bigger challenge than those they play against in games.
That was certainly the case for Alabama receiver John Metchie, who said without any hesitation that his former teammate and current Broncos cornerback Pat Surtain II was the best defensive back he faced in his three seasons in Tuscaloosa.
"I went against him every day," Metchie said Wednesday morning at the NFL Scouting Combine. "Other guys, you go against them during the game and stuff like that, but even so, Pat was the best by far. That's why you go to Alabama. You compete against the best every single day."
Metchie rose to prominence in Alabama's offense during his sophomore season in 2020, which was Surtain's final year with the Crimson Tide. Since the start of that season, Metchie has caught 151 passes for 2,058 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Slade Bolden, another Bama receiver, said that he had a similar experience playing against Surtain, even though Bolden was mostly a slot receiver.
"Even though I would play outside some, especially during practice, and I would go against Pat pretty often," Bolden said at the Combine. "… He would sometimes play 'star' and have to play that nickel 'Sam' position, which covers the slot a little more often. And, yeah, I've had my few battles with Pat, and I'm thankful because he's made me better and hopefully I made him a little better, too."
Over the past 12 years, Alabama has emerged as probably the best producer of receiving talent, which includes the likes of Julio Jones, Amari Cooper, Calvin Ridley, DeVonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle and Jerry Jeudy.
If Metchie, Bolden or Jameson Williams can add their names to that elite group, Surtain may be one of the reasons why.
Below the Fold
Let's add a new mock draft into the conversation, this time from NFL.com's Bucky Brooks. The former scout has Denver selecting Utah linebacker Devin Lloyd.
"The versatile Lloyd is a sideline-to-sideline playmaker with exceptional instincts, awareness and ball skills," Brooks wrote.