BRONCOS

Pat Surtain’s thoughts on rookie corners make them worth watching

May 26, 2022, 5:32 PM | Updated: 5:44 pm

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Some Broncos — past and present — pass out compliments like breadsticks at Olive Garden.

For example, Von Miller excelled at this. In a 2016 post-game interview after a Week 2 win over Indianapolis, he described Trevor Siemian as a “legend.” A year later, he said Siemian had a “similar vibe” to Peyton Manning. In 2018, Miller asserted his belief that Case Keenum would be “a great quarterback for us; he’s gonna be a great leader.”

You get the idea. Sometimes, the best idea is to take praise with a shaker’s worth of salt.

But second-year cornerback Pat Surtain II is not prone to such public pronouncements. He’s all business.

It’s no surprise; he’s known about the realities of the pro game from the earliest of ages. His father, Patrick Surtain, played nine seasons of an 11-year career after Surtain was born in 2000. Three seasons at Alabama in the pro-style program run by Nick Saban added to that.

Indeed, that background is why what Surtain said Thursday regarding the Broncos’ two drafted cornerbacks is worth one’s attention.

First, Surtain answered a question about fourth-round pick Damarri Mathis of Pittsburgh:

“He’s a good young corner,” Surtain said. “He came in ready to learn, ready to compete, and so far, he’s been doing well. You can see him each and every day; he’s progressing. He’s going to be another good corner.”

Then, he discussed seventh-round pick Faion Hicks.

“He’s shown tremendous ability. He’s very quick in and out of his breaks,” Surtain said.

But it was Surtain’s next comment that grabbed one’s attention.

“He’s very smart as well. He’s dialed in with the playbook — as good as us (veterans),” Surtain said.

Usually, you don’t get that sort of specific praise as a Day 3 rookie — and certainly not just two weeks after those newcomers first arrived for their orientation and minicamp.

If Hicks has grasped the playbook like that, he’s ahead of the game. Special teams remains his key to making the 53-man roster, and as a seventh-round pick, sticking past the final cut is anything but guaranteed.

But if Surtain is right about Mathis and Hicks, the Broncos might have dug up a couple of third-day gems at a position group where every team sorely needs its depth — and a spot where the Broncos’ depth has been tested repeatedly in the last three years, with mixed results.

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