Broncos GM Says DEN Tried to Hide Patrick Surtain II Interest Before NFL Draft

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistApril 30, 2021

Alabama cornerback Patrick Surtain II, right, holds a team jersey with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after he was chosen by the Denver Broncos with the ninth pick in the NFL football draft, Thursday, April 29, 2021, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Tony Dejak/Associated Press

Denver Broncos general manager George Paton took predraft secrecy to the next level before selecting Alabama cornerback Patrick Surtain II with the ninth overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft.

Paton revealed Friday to reporters that he did not have any communication with Surtain prior to Thursday's first round: 

"I knew the family, I knew [his] dad, I knew where he came from. We tried to hide our interest a little bit. I never spoke with Patrick; I never Zoomed with him. I told our coaches, 'Don't call him.' I told our scouts, 'Don't call, don't Zoom.' I didn't go to the Alabama pro day. This is a kid we targeted; this is a kid we wanted. We are very fortunate he was there."

Surtain was the second cornerback taken in the first round, behind South Carolina's Jaycee Horn (No. 8, Carolina Panthers).

The 2020 SEC Defensive Player of the Year said he was "excited and emotional" to be drafted by the Broncos. His agent told him he could go off the board "anytime" after the Detroit Lions made their pick of Penei Sewell at No. 7.

Paton is running his first draft as the Broncos' general manager after spending the previous 14 seasons in the Minnesota Vikings organization. He was the Vikings' assistant general manager from 2012 to 2020.

If his first draft in Denver is any indication, Paton believes in secrecy above all else when it comes to making picks. That's something to remember moving forward for those mocking players to Denver because the Broncos were connected to several quarterbacks ahead of the draft but selected Surtain despite Justin Fields and Mac Jones still being on the board.