In the NFL, the quarterback is obviously king. It's the most crucial position, arguably the hardest to play, and someone who does it at a high level has a good chance of making the team successful. Naturally, then, teams try to build their rosters around star quarterbacks.
But if you take quarterbacks out of the equation, there are a variety of outstanding players that could lead teams to success, as well. As an exercise, Pro Football Focus' Sam Monson picked 10 non-quarterbacks that would be best for a franchise to build around if they started in 2023, and cornerback Pat Surtain II made the list.
"Surtain was good as a rookie, but he took his game to another level in his second season," Monson wrote. "This year, he played at an All-Pro level outside of one rough game against Davante Adams — arguably the game's best receiver. Surtain plays with an elite level of patience that most corners can't rival, and it means he's rarely beaten for big plays. In a league waiting for the next crop of elite young corners, Surtain has the chance to lead that group."
Surtain has the accolades to back up that argument, too. For his 2022 season, he earned first-team selections to the AP and NFLPA All-Pro teams and the 2023 Pro Bowl Games.
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Monson also picked out a potential breakout candidate for each team in 2023. For Denver, the player he named was Quinn Meinerz.
"Meinerz allowed just 16 total pressures across almost 500 pass-blocking snaps this season, and his run-blocking grade of 78.6 ranked in the top 10 among all guards," Monson wrote. "Meinerz could be on track for a big Year 3 if his trajectory stays the course."