As the Dallas Cowboys put the finishing touches on their months-long 2021 NFL Draft prep, the wide-ranging field of candidates for the No. 10 overall pick supposedly is down to two.
Calvin Watkins of the Dallas Morning News reported on April 21 the team has narrowed its field of vision to a pair of cornerbacks: Alabama’s Patrick Surtain II and South Carolina’s Jaycee Horn.
“Yes the Cowboys had a virtual visit with Florida TE Kyle Pitts, but a source said there is little expectation he’ll be available at No. 10,” Watkins tweeted. “Cowboys down to Horn and Surtain. Or is it Surtain and Horn?”
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Consensus Says …
Surtain and Horn each recently held virtual interviews with the Cowboys, who’ve also been linked to Pitts, Florida offensive lineman Rashawn Slater, Oregon tackle Penei Sewell, and Michigan defensive lineman Kwity Paye. Prominent NFL insiders and draft prognosticators believe Surtain ultimately will be the selection in Cleveland.
“My No. 1 defensive player in the draft is Patrick Surtain II – and he’ll likely go No. 8 to Carolina, if Penei Sewell isn’t there. If not, Denver. He doesn’t get past Dallas,” said Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline said.
“The expectation is a corner will come off the board at No. 10, to the point that other corner-hungry teams have explored moving up to leapfrog the Cowboys,” wrote Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer. “I’ve heard Dallas most connected to Alabama’s Patrick Surtain II, who would be a middle-of-the-fairway pick and an ideal fit for Dan Quinn’s new defense, though I’d assume South Carolina’s Jaycee Horn would be in play too. If not a corner? Maybe an offensive lineman.”
“The strongest information that I’ve heard is that Alabama cornerback Patrick Surtain II will be the pick at No. 10,” wrote ESPN’s Todd McShay. “He’d give Dallas a shutdown press corner. If Surtain is already off the board, a move back could be in play, per a different source. The Cowboys could slide back four, five or maybe even six spots and still end up with either South Carolina’s Jaycee Horn or Virginia Tech’s Caleb Farley as their cornerback of choice … and some additional picks.”
“Cowboys are well-stocked at tight end. They won’t be drafting Kyle Pitts this month (and likely won’t have opportunity at No. 10). Feel pretty Surtain of it,” Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News tweeted on April 7.
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Surtain II was a three-year contributor at Alabama who logged 82 solo tackles, 24 pass deflections, four interceptions, and one defensive touchdown across 30 games from 2018-2020. He took home a College Football Playoff title as well as SEC Defensive Player of the Year and unanimous All-American honors last season.
Hailed by many as the top corner among the incoming class, edging out Horn and Virginia Tech’s Caleb Farley, Surtain II is a big (6-foot-2), physical (202 pounds) cover man who can operate in both man-press and zone systems. Coincidentally enough, he’s drawn pre-draft comparisons to ex-Cowboys stud Byron Jones.
Surtain is the son of former Miami Dolphins CB Patrick Surtain Sr., who urged Dallas to invest its precious capital in the 21-year-old, a “perfect fit” for new coordinator Dan Quinn.
“It’s the Seattle old defense,” Surtain Sr. said earlier this month on ESPN Radio, via 247Sports. “I know the defensive coordinator, who was in Seattle when they had the Legion of Boom. So I think it’s a lot of misconceptions with that defense, about being a man-in-the-zone structure defense. I think, for the most part, when I watch, I saw Richard Sherman and those guys play man on the outside. Obviously, it’s changeup to play the Cover 3 with them bailing and everything. But with their physicality, with him and Diggs’ physicality, I can see some similarities between Sherman and those guys on the outside. But I saw them play a lot of press, press man and the offset was some Cover 3. So I think he can do it all, man. That’s why I think he’s highly coveted, because he’s an all-around corner. He can play man. He comes up and can tackle. He can play in the slot if need be. So I think he’ll be a perfect fit.”
If acquired, Surtain II would slide in as an immediate starter on the boundary, opposite 2020 second-rounder and fellow Crimson Tide alum Trevon Diggs. With Jourdan Lewis and Anthony Brown working the slot, the Cowboys’ glaring defensive weakness would quickly become a strength.
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Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL