To many in Cowboys Nation, Patrick Surtain II was always the favorite for the Dallas Cowboys at Pick 10. Patrick Surtain II is the son of an NFL player of the same name who played the same position. He played in the best football program in America (I say this as a hater, too), under the best secondary coach in college, put out some of the most technically sound film we’ve seen in years, and has been doing it since he was a freshman.
He was a pedigreed, well trained, and proven entity that came with very little risk and plenty of reward. Cowboys draftniks loved him. I was not one of those people. Until now…
Patrick Surtain II has to be considered the odds-on favorite for the Dallas Cowboys now.
Why the sudden change of heart? Simply put, it was his Pro Day. I know, I know, we shouldn’t allow the Underwear Olympics to sway us too far in either direction, but let me explain:
Patrick Surtain’s film is excellent. Yes, he’s been beaten before but the kid has been starting since he was a true freshman, negative highlights are going to happen – even to the best of them. Surtain plays calmly and doesn’t lose confidence. He rarely jumps routes (which is why he’s vulnerable against the slant) but he also rarely false-steps (so he won’t fall for those deadly “sluggo” routes).
Where Patrick Surtain lost me (and many others) was he didn’t look overly fast or athletic. At 6-foot-2, 208lbs., you don’t expect him to move like a water bug or anything, but you do hope for enough speed and athleticism to stay with those smaller and faster receivers that populate the NFL.
For as much as I loved Surtain’s high floor, I wasn’t sold on his ceiling being very high. Without above average speed and athleticism, the potential is capped for an NFL cornerback (yeah, sit down Richard Sherman, you’re the exception to the rule). If I’m picking in the top-10 of the draft, I’m looking for someone who might be an All-Pro, not someone who’s just guaranteed to be a starter.
Then the Pro Day happened…
…Meet High Reward
Mike McCarthy, Dan Quinn, the Dallas Cowboys area scout were all in attendance and it’s safe to say they came away impressed. Not only did Patrick Surtain confirm all of the physical height and weight measurements, but he put up impressive speed and explosion numbers as well and posted arguably the best relative athletic scores (RAS) of his draft class.
RAS compares a draft prospect’s numbers to those of his positional counterparts already in the NFL. It lets you know how he’ll fit in at the next level much like an ACT or SAT score predicts student success at the college level. It’s not a perfect indicator of success, but it sure helps.
What these numbers did was tell us Patrick Surtain II doesn’t just have a high floor, but he also has a high ceiling. He’s elite in size and explosiveness and he has abnormal speed to go with it. The film already told us he has some of the best technique seen in a prospect, and his resume tells us he’s ready to make the transition to the NFL on Day 1. He’s actually the perfect pick in the Top-10 because he’s both low-risk and high-reward.
For the Dallas Cowboys, he fills a need (they still need a starting boundary CB to replace Chido), he fits the scheme (Cowboys need a tall and rangy CB to play Cover 3), and he fits in positional value (CB is 4th in positional WAR value and 6th in positional pay).
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There’s the concern Surtain may have just played himself out of the Dallas Cowboys range. And based on all the unforeseen craziness we’ve seen in the past few years, that’s perfectly possible. But with so many QBs and blue-chip offensive talent in this draft, it would be perfectly reasonable to see zero defensive players selected before the Cowboys go on the clock at Pick 10.
Is Patrick Surtain the very first player on my board? No, but much like his broad jump, he just exploded up my rankings.
The Dallas Cowboys showed us they are interested since they sent all the important coaching staff to Mobile. The Cowboys have a history of drafting CBs high, showing they value the position. They have a clear opening at CB2, showing positional need. And they don’t have many other defensive options in this offense-heavy top-15 portion of the draft.
The signs are there and our main fears have been allayed. Patrick Surtain II is the perfect pick for the Dallas Cowboys at Pick 10 and should be considered the odds-on favorite heading into April.