Patrick Surtain II is viewed as one of the top cornerbacks in the 2021 NFL Draft. His father, Patrick Surtain Sr., was a First-Team All-Pro cornerback for the Miami Dolphins and spent time in Kansas City playing for the Chiefs. After he retired from the NFL, he became a high school football coach, where one of his top recruits ever just happened to be his son. Patrick Surtain II would leave high school as a five-star prospect and play college football at powerhouse Alabama under Nick Saban. Since joining Alabama, Surtain II has become one of the nation’s top cornerbacks and is currently projected to be a first-round selection in the upcoming NFL Draft.
Surtain was excellent when paired with second-rounder Trevon Diggs last year and has taken over the role of CB1 at Alabama this year. He’s been great, but he has yet to be tested this season. That will change when Alabama takes on Georgia this week, as the Bulldogs have a pair of NFL-ready receivers that will test the ability of the Crimson Tide’s secondary. Sophomores George Pickens (true) and Kearis Jackon (redshirt) are a lethal WR duo who will provide Surtain with his first taste of true NFL competition this season. How will Surtain look to attack these strong Georgia receivers, and how does it translate to the NFL?
Patrick Surtain II vs. Georgia Preview
As I mentioned, the Georgia receiving duo is one of the best in the SEC, if not the nation. George Pickens is widely considered the top wide receiver in the 2022 NFL Draft class after bursting onto the scene late last year. He registered a touchdown in Georgia’s last four games and totaled 175 receiving yards in his bowl game against Baylor.
Kearis Jackson is a far less known name who has actually been the top weapon for Georgia’s offense this season. Jackson leads the Bulldogs with 19 receptions for 300 receiving yards and has really come into his own this season. He’s a name to watch for in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Alabama does not traditionally have their top cornerback shadow opposing receivers, so Patrick Surtain II will spend most of his night playing on the right side of the offense. Therefore, he will see both receivers consistently and must play them differently. With each receiver having an individual skill-set, Surtain will be tested by both. What must Surtain do in his match-up against the different Georgia receivers?
Surtain vs. Pickens features catch-point chaos
Against Pickens, Surtain must be aggressive at the line of scrimmage and contest the ball when it’s in the air. At 6’3″, Pickens most commonly wins vertically by combining both clean releases and smooth athletic ability. He’s also a monster at the catch point. Surtain must attempt to slow down Pickens at the line of scrimmage. Surtain possesses the requisite length and discipline to pull this off. His long frame allows him to engage Pickens early, throwing off his momentum and any timing he might have with the quarterback. His discipline is some of the best in the nation, and it’s evident with receivers who attempt various releases. Surtain keeps his eyes home, and he’ll rarely bite on a double move or stutter step.
Pickens might be a physical marvel at 6’3″, but Patrick Surtain II is by no means small, meaning he should provide the Alabama defense with a perfect match up piece. Standing at 6’2 and weighing a bit over 200lbs, he’s one of the biggest cornerbacks in the 2021 class. He can contest the ball in the air, as he’s registered 16 pass deflections and three interceptions to this point in his career. Surtain’s skill-set is fundamentally a good match-up against a receiver like Pickens, who tries to bully cornerbacks. Expect this to be a hotly contested match-up anytime the ball is in the air.
Surtain vs. Jackson could be surprisingly difficult
Based on what I saw coming in, nobody talked about Kearis Jackson as someone to watch in the 2021 NFL Draft. Yet he has outproduced George Pickens in receptions and yards. He’s explosive off the snap, and he’s an impressive route runner. He creates natural separation, and his skill-set should prove difficult to cover for Surtain. Surtain excels against bigger receivers because he possesses the size and length to contest their bully ball attempts. With faster receivers, Surtain starts to get out of his wheelhouse. He’s not an elite athlete, and his change of direction ability is average at best for a cornerback.
This is a great test for Surtain, and how he responds will be huge. A common knock against him is his performances against faster receivers. Is he strictly a zone corner, or can he play man in the NFL? He’s facing one of the hottest receivers in the SEC. Can he cool off Jackson, or will he struggle with the pressure? These kinds of games are the best way to evaluate just how good a player Surtain is.
Final thoughts on Surtain vs. Georgia
Patrick Surtain II is projected to be a first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. He’s the son of an All-Pro cornerback, and he’s currently the CB1 at Alabama, a factory for NFL defensive backs. This season has been a bit slow for him, as he hasn’t been tested by an elite boundary WR yet. That will change when he faces Georgia and their two high-quality wide-outs. How will Surtain fair against their separate skill-sets, and what will it mean for his draft stock?