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2021 NFL Draft: Why Patrick Surtain II could be Falcons' first-round pick 


Editor's note: This is the fifth of 10 prospect profiles on players who could be the Falcons' first-round pick.

One of the scenarios the Atlanta Falcons could find themselves in on April 29 when the NFL Draft begins is with the opportunity to trade back and receive a haul of picks for the future.

That's why having the No. 4 overall pick is such a big deal because not only does Atlanta have the chance to draft one of the best prospects in the draft, if a team wants a quarterback, they could come up with an offer the Falcons would have a hard time denying. If the team was to trade out of the No. 4 spot and trade back, they could still draft a high-quality player in the first round and secure more picks for the future.

One of those players could be cornerback Patrick Surtain II who is widely viewed as the top defensive back in this year's draft class. Surtain spent the last three seasons at Alabama where he served as the shutdown cornerback for the Crimson Tide.

During his time in Tuscaloosa, Surtain recorded 116 tackles, 24 pass deflections, four interceptions and four forced fumbles. His year-long performance in the 2020 season earned him first-team Associated Press All-American and SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors.

Why he fits with the Falcons

The Falcons used their first-round pick in 2020 on cornerback A.J. Terrell and he was one of the best players on the defensive side of the ball in his rookie season. Pairing another cornerback of Surtain's caliber to play opposite of Terrell would give Atlanta one of the best young cornerback duos in the NFL.

Securing the No. 2 cornerback spot will be a priority for head coach Arthur Smith and general manager Terry Fontenot in their first offseason together. The Falcons finished last in the NFL in pass defense as they gave up 293.6 yards per game in the air.

If the Falcons were to draft Surtain, new defensive coordinator Dean Pees would have two shutdown corners in his secondary. This would allow Pees even more of a chance to utilize the pressure packages he's known for because he'll have cornerbacks who can apply sticky coverage on opponents' wide receivers. Surtain is 6-foot-2 and 208 pounds with a 32.5-inch wingspan.

Expert analysis:

"Patrick Surtain II is a highly touted cornerback for the Crimson Tide. A former 5-star recruit and coveted player, he's been a three-year starter for Alabama. The son of former Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs corner Patrick Surtain, he has the DNA and football genes of a former successful NFL player. The junior cornerback's length, discipline, and mild-mannered playing style are the best attributes of his game. Surtain II's deep speed will be the biggest question that he will need to answer on the next level as there have been some occurrences of where he's surrendered throws into the deeper portions of the field. " – Jordan Reid, The Draft Network

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