Patrick Surtain II

Denver Emerging As Premier QB Destination

We wrote a bit earlier today on the Broncos being among multiple AFC teams who “have trade compensation lined up with the Packers,” in relation to quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Well, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Denver has emerged as a prime location for many of the league’s veteran quarterbacks looking for a potential change of scenery.

The Broncos recently hired former Packers’ offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett to replace Vic Fangio, who failed to accomplish a winning season in three years with the Broncos. The former Green Bay staffer represents an obvious and strong connection for Rodgers. Should Rodgers decide to move on from the Packers, having a play-caller that he’s familiar with could add some allure to the Mile High City. Another intriguing aspect that could bring a star quarterback to Denver is the addition of former Vikings’ offensive coordinator Klint Kubiak as passing game coordinator/quarterbacks coach. Kubiak just helped Kirk Cousins turn in one of his best seasons in Minnesota.

Hackett and company inherit an impressive roster posed to perform. The defense is comprised of veterans like outside linebacker Bradley Chubb, safety Justin Simmons, defensive end Shelby Harris, and cornerback Ronald Darby. There are a number of free agents that Denver would like to bring back like cornerbacks Bryce Callahan & Kyle Fuller, defensive back Kareem Jackson, inside linebacker Josey Jewell, and outside linebacker Malik Reed. Even if they fail to bring some of those names back, the Broncos saw impressive seasons last year for youngsters like cornerback Patrick Surtain II, linebacker Baron Browning, defensive end Dre’Mont Jones, and safety Caden Sterns. The list of defensive players above may not overwhelm you with stardom, but, together, the Broncos defense ranked third in the league in points allowed and eighth in the league in yards allowed.

In addition to a brand new offense and stacked defense, Denver boasts a nice array of young offensive weapons. An impressive receiving corps is led by veteran 26-year-old Courtland Sutton, young star Jerry Jeudy, and Tim Patrick, who has broken out a bit over the past two seasons. The Broncos also have two talented, young receiving tight ends in Noah Fant and Albert Okwuegbunam. Any quarterback looking to join in on the fun would potentially have the benefit of a two-headed rushing attack that was 79 yards short of a combined 2,000-yard rushing season. Running back Javonte Williams enjoyed a healthy dose of carries in his rookie season, and there is mutual interest in bringing back Melvin Gordon.

Rodgers is obviously a name to keep an eye on as the decision on his future in Green Bay looms on the horizon. He has said that he will let the Packers know of his intentions before the franchise tag deadline so they can figure out how to deal with free agent wide receiver Davante Adams. In addition to Rodgers, though, keep an eye out for Denver to make moves on other quarterbacks searching for greener pastures. Russell Wilson has long been rumored to be interested in moving on from Seattle, and Deshaun Watson is still searching for a new home.

Whether Rodgers, Wilson, Watson, or some other under-the-radar name, look for the Broncos to make a move for a star quarterback. If they are able to find the right fit, the move could bring them into contention for what could easily turn into the toughest division in football.

NFC East Notes: Parsons, McAdoo, Giants

The Cowboys are more than happy that they landed on linebacker Micah Parsons with the 12th-overall pick in this year’s draft. Parsons has started each of his 11 games for Dallas, collecting 67 tackles, nine sacks, and two forced fumbles, and he’s the runaway favorite to win Defensive Rookie of the Year. However, if the Cowboys had had their way, they would have used their selection on a cornerback.

As Jon Machota of The Athletic writes, the team’s “original plan” was to select either South Carolina’s Jaycee Horn or Alabama’s Patrick Surtain II. However, those cornerbacks were scooped up at No. 8 and No. 9 respectively, forcing the front office to pivot. They ended up landing on the Penn State linebacker (after trading down), and the organization couldn’t be happier with how it all turned out.

Parsons explained to Machota how he continues to improve throughout his first season in the NFL.

“People always talk about the rookie wall,” Parsons said, “but I just keep climbing and climbing because I’m excited to see what’s on the other side of that wall.

“I love what we have here. I’m just so honored and blessed to represent the star and have an opportunity to be a star here.”

Some more notes out of the NFC East…

  • The Cowboys are dealing with COVID-19 cases throughout their staff, so they’ll be temporarily promoting Ben McAdoo to a coaching role, tweets NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. McAdoo, who had been serving as a “consultant to the coaches” in Dallas, will be in the coaches booth for tomorrow’s game against the Saints. The 44-year-old spent two years as the Giants head coach between 2016 and 2017, and he returned to the NFL last season when he was hired as the Jaguars QBs coach.
  • Guess who else liked Horn and Surtain? The Giants, according to Paul Schwartz of the New York Post, but the Eagles’ decision to trade up (with the Cowboys, no less) to select wideout DeVonta Smith was the move that really threw New York’s draft into disarray. With the organization’s targets off the board, the team ultimately decided to trade with the Bears, with the Giants selecting wideout Kadarius Toney at No. 20.
  • Another Cowboys/Giants connection: Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv writes that the Joe Judge/Jason Garrett pairing in New York was always an “arranged marriage.” Co-owner John Mara was the one who pushed to add Garrett as the team’s offensive coordinator, and the former Cowboys head coach was an “outlier” on a staff that generally had connections to their head coach. Garrett was ultimately canned by Judge and the Giants in late November after the team had collected a league-low 42 touchdowns.
  • Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports opines that the Giants should go all out on Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson this offseason. The writer cites the organization’s draft capital (which, at the moment, includes picks No. 6 and No. 7), Daniel Jones‘ disappointment in New York, and Wilson’s supposed desire to play in the Big Apple. Assuming GM Dave Gettleman is out after the season, this would be a bold way for a new GM to begin their tenure, but the writer believes this would be preferable to rolling with Jones or drafting a quarterback in a weak class.

Broncos G Graham Glasgow Out For Season

The Broncos placed Graham Glasgow on IR on Tuesday. This represents an old-school IR designation, with Mike Klis of 9News noting the veteran guard will miss the rest of the season.

Glasgow suffered a broken leg against the Cowboys, ending his second year with the Broncos. Denver signed the former Detroit blocker to a four-year, $44MM deal in 2020. How Glasgow’s replacement fares may determine his future in Colorado.

Third-round pick Quinn Meinerz will take over at right guard for the Broncos, lining up opposite third-year left guard Dalton Risner. A Division III standout who impressed at the Senior Bowl, Meinerz will not be the lone backup on Denver’s offensive line to start in Week 10. The Broncos are likely to be without left tackle Garett Bolles (high ankle sprain) for a second straight week, per Vic Fangio, and Cameron Fleming is expected to start in place of right tackle Bobby Massie. Denver signed Massie and Fleming after Ja’Wuan James‘ offseason injury, and the former suffered knee and ankle injuries during the Broncos’ win in Dallas.

Additionally, Patrick Surtain II will miss time because of a knee sprain, Klis adds. The Broncos are already down slot cornerback Bryce Callahan, who is on IR, though the team held onto Kyle Fuller at last week’s trade deadline. Fuller and Ronald Darby are set to start at corner against the Eagles. Surtain is not on IR and could potentially return after the Broncos’ Week 11 bye.

Broncos Activate CB Ronald Darby

SATURDAY: The Broncos are activating Darby from IR. Though Surtain is questionable for Week 5, Denver might have its top four cornerbacks available against Pittsburgh. But the team will be without another of its pass catchers going forward. The Broncos placed tight end Albert Okwuegbunam on IR Saturday. The second-year tight end, who missed most of last season with an ACL tear, is dealing with a hamstring ailment.

WEDNESDAY: Amid a rough stretch on the health front, the Broncos received some positive injury news Wednesday. Ronald Darby returned to practice, starting his 21-day window for a re-emergence from injured reserve.

The Broncos placed Darby on IR following a Week 1 hamstring injury, depleting the team’s cornerback surplus. But the former Philadelphia and Washington corner may be on track to return at first chance this week in Pittsburgh. Teams have three weeks to activate players designated to return or they revert to season-ending IR.

Although the Broncos signed Kyle Fuller, they inked Darby to a three-year deal. Darby and Patrick Surtain II represent the team’s long-term cornerback investments. Surtain, however, has taken Darby’s place in the starting lineup and played fairly well. It will be interesting to see how the Broncos proceed with their $10MM-per-year corner and their No. 9 overall pick. Surtain did suffer a chest injury late in the Broncos’ Week 4 loss; Denver deemed its prized rookie day to day.

The Broncos have lost two more starting defenders — Bradley Chubb and Josey Jewell — since Darby’s injury and finished Sunday’s loss without five offensive first-stringers, including a concussed Teddy Bridgewater.

Teams Calling Broncos On Cornerbacks

The Broncos exited last season with no proven cornerbacks available, with Bryce Callahan injured and A.J. Bouye suspended. Teams have now observed Denver may have a surplus at this position.

Teams have called the Broncos about their depth, with Mike Klis of 9News noting some are eyeing Denver’s corner group. The Broncos cut Bouye but retained Callahan. They then added Ronald Darby and Kyle Fuller in free agency and drafted Patrick Surtain II ninth overall, passing on Justin Fields and Mac Jones to do so.

We’re fortunate we have a player in Surtain that can play multiple positions at a young age,” first-year GM George Paton said, via Klis. “Not many rookies can play three positions. It’s a really good problem to have. It’s Vic [Fangio‘s] problem, but you can’t have enough of those guys. Corners, a lot of them go down so we’re really happy with our depth. We have a lot of teams calling us on our depth. But we like our corners, that’s for sure.”

Denver has an interesting mix of midlevel contracts — Callahan, Darby and Fuller are each signed to deals averaging between $7-$10MM per year — at corner, along with Surtain’s rookie-deal salary. The Broncos also used a third-round pick on Michael Ojemudia last year. Nickel sets generally call for three cornerbacks, potentially leaving teams wondering if the Broncos are open to moving one of their vets, though dime sets and others in which the team’s top four corners play together are likely in Fangio’s plans.

The Broncos are using Surtain at multiple spots, and Callahan and Darby bring injury pasts creating a need for depth. Callahan ended the 2018 and 2020 seasons on IR and missed all of the 2019 season. Darby was sidelined for 20 games from 2017-19. Denver’s depth may be limited to just 2021, with Callahan and Fuller on one-year deals, but it will nonetheless be interesting to see how the Broncos proceed at this spot.

Broncos, Patrick Surtain II Agree To Deal

The second cornerback off the board in this year’s draft, Patrick Surtain II signed his rookie contract Tuesday. Surtain and the Broncos agreed on the four-year slot deal (feat. the fifth-year option), Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. This year’s No. 9 overall pick is set to make $20.9MM over the course of his rookie pact.

Denver certainly held Surtain in high regard, passing on a glaring quarterback need to land the former Alabama standout at No. 9. The Broncos did not speak with Surtain during the pre-draft process, but new Denver GM George Paton was with Miami when the Dolphins employed Surtain’s father — Patrick Surtain, a Pro Bowl cornerback in the 2000s.

The younger Surtain became the most significant piece of this year’s Broncos cornerback overhaul. Having seen their Super Bowl-winning No Fly Zone secondary splinter in recent years, the Broncos were thin at corner last season. By the end of the 2020 slate, the Broncos were without their top two corners — A.J. Bouye and Bryce Callahan. They were thin here in 2019 as well, with Callahan missing the season due to injury. Surtain and free agent signings Ronald Darby and Kyle Fuller now join Callahan in Denver.

A 6-foot-2 cover man, Surtain started 38 straight games for the Crimson Tide and finished as a consensus All-American as a junior in 2020. Scouts Inc. slotted Surtain as this year’s top cornerback prospect, just ahead of Jaycee Horn, who went eighth overall to the Panthers.

Despite not yet being under contract, Surtain attended Denver’s rookie minicamp last weekend. Here is how the Broncos’ rookie class looks:

Round 1: No. 9 Patrick Surtain II, CB (Alabama) (signed)
Round 2: No. 35 (from Falcons) Javonte Williams, RB (North Carolina)
Round 3: No. 98 (from Saints): Quinn Meinerz, OL (Wisconsin-Whitewater)
Round 3: No. 105 (from Saints) Baron Browning, LB (Ohio State)
Round 5: No. 152 Caden Sterns, S (Texas)
Round 5: No. 164 (from Bears via Giants) Jamar Johnson, S (Indiana) (signed)
Round 6: No. 219 (from Falcons) Seth Williams, WR (Auburn) (signed)
Round 7: No. 237 Kary Vincent Jr., CB (LSU) (signed)
Round 7: No. 239 (from Giants) Jonathon Cooper, LB (Ohio State)
Round 7: No. 253 (from Browns) Marquiss Spencer, DL (Mississippi State) (signed)

DB Notes: Hughes, Surtain, Bears, Cowboys

The Vikings punted on Mike Hughes‘ contract year, sending the former first-round cornerback to the Chiefs in a pick-swap trade involving late-round selections. They felt comfortable doing so because of their additions at the position this offseason.

Mike is a terrific kid; he’s been injured an awful lot,” Mike Zimmer said, via ESPN.com’s Courtney Cronin (Twitter links). “With the way that everything is now, we were fortunate to get a couple corners last year in the draft, we signed Patrick Peterson in free agency, so I think that gave us the opportunity to make the trade.”

Minnesota signed Peterson to a one-year, $10MM deal and reunited with former second-round pick Mackensie Alexander on a one-year pact. The Vikings drafted two corners high last year — first-rounder Jeff Gladney and third-rounder Cameron Dantzler — but a Gladney arrest earlier this year could affect his NFL future. Taken 30th overall in 2018, Hughes has only played 24 regular-season games during his career. The Chiefs have now taken fliers on two recent first-round corners — Hughes and DeAndre Baker — at low-cost rates.

Here is the latest news surrounding NFL secondaries:

  • Despite Justin Fields remaining on the board, the Broncos selected Patrick Surtain II at No. 9 overall. After seeing the last of their Super Bowl-winning No Fly Zone cogs depart in 2020 (Chris Harris) and Bryce Callahan encounter another injury, the Broncos moved aggressively at corner this offseason. Surtain, Ronald Darby and Kyle Fuller now join Callahan. With the three veterans perhaps in line to be Denver’s top corners in Week 1, Surtain may be eased in gradually. However, he is viewed as an impact prospect who should be expected to help in 2021. Vic Fangio said the Broncos will train the 6-foot-2 cover man on the outside and in the slot, via Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post.
  • Formerly possessing a high-end cornerback contingent, the Bears have seen two of those cogs — Callahan and Fuller — rejoin Fangio in Colorado. The Bears cut Fuller this year after releasing slot man Buster Skrine. They signed Desmond Trufant, but the former Falcons Pro Bowler has missed 17 games over the past two years. Chicago has Jaylon Johnson locked in as a starter but did not draft a corner until Round 6 this year (Thomas Graham Jr.). Nevertheless, new Bears DC Sean Desai does not believe the team needs outside help here. “We’ve got enough depth where we’ll be able to solve that problem,” Desai said, via Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune. Desai mentioned 2020 fifth-rounder Kindle Vildor, who played 135 defensive snaps last season, as a player who could be elevated into regular duty — either outside or in the slot. The Bears have, however, checked in on Steven Nelson, joining several other teams in doing so.
  • Although the Cowboys signed former first-round safety Keanu Neal, they are planning a hybrid role for the standout tackler. At safety, the team may well be set to turn to the other ex-Falcon cover man they signed this offseason. Damontae Kazee and Donovan Wilson look like the favorites to start at safety, per Jon Machota of The Athletic (subscription required). A 2019 sixth-round pick, Wilson started 10 Cowboys games last season. Kazee replaced Neal as a full-time starter in 2018 and ’19, when Neal suffered early-season injuries. But the former fifth-round pick is coming off an Achilles tear himself, which could impact his path to the starting lineup.

Saints Tried To Trade Up For Jaycee Horn, Patrick Surtain II

The Saints ended up bolstering their defensive end corps in the first round, but the four-time reigning AFC South champions spent extensive time Thursday night attempting to trade up for a cornerback.

Jaycee Horn appealed most to the team, according to The Athletic’s Jeff Duncan (subscription required). New Orleans’ trade efforts to move into the top 10 centered on Joe Horn‘s son, but teams were not eager to move out of their positions that high in the draft. Most did not entertain the Saints’ pre-draft offers.

The effort to trade into the top 10 also involved Patrick Surtain II, whom the Saints expected to be gone by No. 10 (Dallas). However, only one team picking that high entered into substantive discussions with the Saints, per Duncan. The Broncos ended up taking Surtain at No. 9 but had previously talked about moving down with the Saints. And “substantive” might be excessive here, with the Broncos wanting multiple first- and second-round picks to move down 18 spots. Viewing the Broncos’ counteroffer as unreasonable, the Saints did not entertain it and later watched as Denver selected the Alabama corner just after Carolina drafted Horn.

Three years ago, the Saints managed to pull off a somewhat similar trade. They moved from No. 27 to No. 14 to select Marcus Davenport. That deal cost the team a 2019 first-rounder and a fifth-rounder later in the ’18 draft. New Orleans ended up adding to its D-end crew Thursday by selecting Payton Turner, but the team has a clear need going into Friday’s draft portion.

Finding a corner to join Marshon Lattimore and C.J. Garnder-Johnson will be paramount for the Saints on Friday night. They are expected to add multiple players to this position by offseason’s end, per Duncan. New Orleans lost Janoris Jenkins in free agency. While Patrick Robinson remains on the team, the Saints have not used the veteran extensively in his second stint with the team.

Broncos Draft CB Patrick Surtain II

The Broncos didn’t take a quarterback after all. With the No. 9 overall pick, the Broncos selected Alabama cornerback Patrick Surtain II

An All-American as a junior, Surtain finished with a career-high nine passes defensed this season, leading to SEC Defensive Player of the Years honors. That performance vaulted him up the draft boards, just shy of fellow corner Jaycee Horn.

We previously heard that the Cowboys were split between Horn and Surtain. Now, they’ll have to pivot. The Cardinals were also infatuated with both corners, so they’ll have to look further down the board when they pick in the middle of the order.

Surtain will follow his father, Patrick Surtain, into the pros. The elder Surtain was a longtime NFL corner who became a Dolphins second-round pick in 1998. An All-American as a junior, Surtain finished with a career-high nine passes defensed in 2020. Now, in Denver, Surtain will join a talented cornerback group that includes Ronald Darby, Kyle Fuller, and Bryce Callahan.

He’s the first defensive player drafted in Round 1 by the Broncos since 2018, when they tapped Bradley Chubb No. 5 overall. He’s also Denver’s first Round 1 defensive back since Bradley Roby in 2014.

Cowboys Split On Which Cornerback To Select At No. 10

The Cowboys could be eyeing a cornerback with the No. 10 pick, but it sounds like the organization is split on who they should take. Tony Pauline of Pro Football Network reports that there’s a “50/50 split” in the Dallas front office about whether the team should select Patrick Surtain II or Jaycee Horn with their first-round pick.

If the Cowboys are indeed seeking a cornerback, it makes sense that the team is deciding between Surtain and Horn; the duo has established themselves as the top-two cornerbacks in the entire draft. Dallas could use reinforcement everywhere on their defense, but as ESPN’s Todd Archer notes, there aren’t pass-rushers or defensive tackles worth taking at the No. 10 spot (and the team’s need for a linebacker doesn’t outweigh their need for a cornerback). While the Cowboys front office is apparently struggling to decide which of the cornerbacks to select (assuming they even have that luxury), the team can be confident that they’ll be adding a foundational piece to their defense.

While it’s always important to take pre-draft news with a grain of salt, Archer notes that the Cowboys have generally hinted at their first-round selection days before the draft. The reporter details how the Cowboys have narrowed their focus on a specific first-rounder each year since 2015, with the one exception being last year when CeeDee Lamb unexpectedly fell.

One thing is for sure: the Cowboys won’t be trading up from No. 10. The team has made it abundantly clear that they won’t pay the required bounty in order to move up the draft board, even if tight end Kyle Pitts (a Jerry Jones favorite) falls outside of the top-four