One word to describe Patrick Surtain’s game would be “Professional”. From his technique, intelligence, ball skills, and even his demeanor on the field, it’s painfully obvious that he belongs in the NFL. It’s almost like Patrick Surtain Sr., a former two-time All-Pro at CB, poured his knowledge and years of NFL experience into his son’s body. The saying goes, “Like Father, Like Son.”
One question many of us throughout this community ask is how will a player’s skill translate to the next level? Certain players, it’s tough to answer, other times we are talking about players like Patrick Surtain. He is as polished they come. Surtain’s technique, football intelligence, and mentality are all NFL-ready. His athleticism is nothing to scoff at either.
Who is Patrick Surtain II?
Surtain is an extremely good athlete, and his tape shows that. He’s got a great frame at 6’2” and 32 1/2″ arms, and his long speed on tape and in the 40 (4.42 & 4.46) is great. He rarely gets beat deep due to issues with speed, and he’s explosive enough to make a play on any type of break. I wouldn’t say PS2 (Patrick Surtain) is a freaky athlete, I’d consider him well above average for his size and weight, and with his play style, that’s plenty of athleticism to get the job done.
The best thing about Surtain’s game is that he doesn’t rely on any singular tool to win. He can play from multiple alignments and use a variety of techniques. He prefers his slide technique, Surtain can work out of a backpedal and showcases great footwork breaking downhill or flipping his hips to run with a receiver vertically. At the line of scrimmage, his footwork and hand placement are nearly perfect.
Against other elite-level prospects, Surtain’s lack of elite hip twitch, can create issues for him. Surtain can play a “Soft-shoe” press but prefers to read or kick-step at the line of scrimmage. This allows PS2 to get hands on the receiver and stick to his hip pocket. The footwork and eye placement from Surtain are easily the most impressive part of his game. His eyes never wander from their assignment and his feet rarely look out of control. Surtain keeps his feet calm and controlled underneath him. This provides him the opportunity to break in multiple ways at a moment’s notice. These smooth movement skills, great footwork, and fluid hips allow Surtain to really thrive no matter where you align him.
Surtain’s demeanor contributes to him being one of the best. Where Jaycee Horn is a junkyard dog, Surtain is a cool and calm professional. He never panics, no matter the situation. Get beat by Kyle Pitts off the line of scrimmage? No worries, PS2 will just flip his hips, eliminate other route options and attack the cut off point for the slant to limit the damage. This resolute calm helps limit penalties and mistakes. That lack of panic really stems from two things, the masterful technique we touched on earlier, and his understanding of that Alabama defense.
Surtain’s comfort in Saban’s scheme, considering how complex it can be, is pretty crazy. PS2 is typically in perfect position according to Saban’s divider rule. He can be seen on tape pointing and directing traffic before the snap. Surtain knows where his help is and how to play around that. It does not hurt that Surtain showcases very good route recognition and diagnosing routes via the process of elimination. The former National Champion is a smart football player, his knowledge of Saban’s scheme will probably help his transition to an NFL scheme.
What do I love about PS2?
Probably my favorite part of Patrick Surtain’s game is how he approaches the line of scrimmage. He prefers to read or kick step at the line, but he will often switch it up, using a soft shoe technique against more agile wide receivers when physicality doesn’t win. While he isn’t as aggressive as another corner in this draft class, Surtain loves to get his hands on wide receivers and stay in phase throughout the route, eliminating a WR from the QBs progression. He consistently shows patience and great eye discipline throughout each rep, never losing because of a mental error. Almost every rep is teach tape, and when he does lose, he finds a way to get back in position to mitigate the damage.
Where does Surtain struggle?
These negatives will sound pretty nitpicky and don’t affect him on most plays, but they do still affect him. And when they reappear even a couple of times, it should be considered a negative, no matter how small.
The most common knock on Surtain’s game you will hear about is a lack of “athleticism”, or to be more specific, a lack of twitch. “Twitch” isn’t talking about the streaming website (where you can find me at twitch.tv/All22_Addict, yes it’s a shameless plug). Twitch is the ability to transition from movement to movement quickly and explosively. I would not say PS2 lacks twitch, it is not his defining trait.
At times, his footwork and near flawless technique cover this lack of twitch. When receivers step on his toes, the fluidity and tightness of the footwork doesn’t solve the problem. More times than not, Surtain will get slightly out of position due to the lack of twitch. This lack of twitch is not a game breaker for PS2, but I do think it limits his margin for error in coverage. You saw it a bit against Kyle Pitts and Josh Palmer. When guys get into his feet, he can struggle to stay in position.
Is he “twitchy”?
His lack of elite twitch really exacerbates one of my bigger problems with his game, and that is how he manages space. When he manages his space well and keeps his cushion, his quality technique covers up the lack of twitch. Often times, he allows guys to erase his cushion. His transitions have to be more explosive and sudden, and that’s where the former Bama defensive back’s lack of elite twitch is visible. He will be late on vertical and lateral transitions because he just can’t transition to turn and run as fast. This flaw is pretty coachable and was not a major issue on tape. This single flaw could lead to Surtain ending up on NFL receivers highlight tapes. With time and coaching, I expect the issue to become null and void.
I’m unsure if there is a more NFL ready cornerback than Patrick Surtain in this draft. He has every tool needed to be a good-to-great NFL corner. Also, the skills are there to tie it together. PS2 isn’t the type of player to impose his will upon WRs, his technique and football intelligence allows him to play the game at his pace. The small concerns I have will not push him to the top of my rankings, Patrick Surtain II is closer to CB1 than CB3 and is undoubtedly worth a Top-10 pick in the NFL Draft.