When they go on the clock in the first round of the 2021 Draft, there is a high likelihood the Dallas Cowboys will choose between the kin of two NFL greats — South Carolina cornerback Jaycee Horn and Alabama CB Patrick Surtain II.
The father of the latter, Patrick Surtain Sr., a three-time Pro Bowler with the Miami Dolphins (2002-04), recently made his draft pitch to the Cowboys, calling the Crimson Tide standout and potential No. 10 overall pick a “perfect fit” for coordinator Dan Quinn’s defense.
“It’s the Seattle old defense,” Surtain said Friday 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.”
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Surtain II was a three-year contributor at Alabama who posted 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 (ideally) zone systems. Coincidentally enough, he’s drawn pre-draft comparisons to ex-Cowboys stud Byron Jones, whom the team lost in 2020 free agency.
“Surtain possesses elite length and a high football IQ, and teams will love the person as much as the player,” his Pro Football Network scouting report reads. “He projects as a boundary corner who would excel in a more zone-heavy scheme instead of a team that predominantly runs man coverage. However, any team with a need at cornerback should consider him in the first round. If you consider the sweet spot for Patrick Surtain II in the NFL Draft to be the 10-15 range, then teams like the Minnesota Vikings, Philadelphia Eagles, and Dallas Cowboys make most sense.”
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Echoing beat reporter Michael Gehlken, who predicted the Cowboys would pass on Florida tight end Kyle Pitts to nab Surtain, legendary ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. mocked the newly-turned 21-year-old to Dallas at No. 10, believing a trade-up for Pitts — or most non-defensive prospects — would be a categorical mistake.
“I would say, ‘Yes, you are wasting your time,’” Kiper said Thursday, per the Dallas Morning News. “I do. I really believe that. I couldn’t see them going up to get Kyle Pitts from where they’re picking at 10. It just doesn’t make sense to me. This is a team that needs so much help on the defensive side of the ball. D-line. You look at linebacker. You think about corner — that’s their No. 1 need, cornerback.
“Tight end is a luxury. They can’t afford that luxury right now.”
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Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL