ENGLEWOOD, Colorado – Before John did Elway Jerry Jeudy his final first-round draft pick as the main decision maker of football Denver Broncos In April 2020, it was 16 years since the Broncos used a draft pick against a University of Alabama player.
But the Broncos have now moved to Crimson Tide for consecutive first rounds after winning cornerback Pat Surtain II in 2021. And if what the Broncos saw in the early days of training camp carries on into the season, a bama outbreak could fuel this young team’s re-entry into post-season conversation.
Broncos safety Justin Simmons thought about the immediate future of both players in the past few days.
He said of Jeudy: “I have no doubt that Jeudy can have an All-Pro-Pro-Bowl season this year. He’s just so good. Everyone wants to talk about what happened last year.” [with some drops], but I’m not worried a bit about that. … I know he will be great for us this year. He’s getting big. “
And on Surtain, Simmons offered, “Man, Pat is great. He’s great. He’s just so grown up. … The way he sustains himself and the maturity is great. He gets it. … He’s got his head on his shoulders “the right way.” It is going to be great.”
Usually the training camp is the sunshine-and-rainbow season, when optimism blossoms in the summer sun.
You haven’t seen Nun yet … ⏳ https://t.co/CDY7EzxmKv
– Jerry Jeudy⁴ (@jerryjeudy) August 6, 2021
However, Jeudy put out one great play after another. The sophomore receiver showed high-end route running ability last season, having 52 catches for 856 yards per rookie, but he’s also had double-digit drops along the way, including a five-drop tag against that Los Angeles chargers last december. He spent his off-season making sure his sophomore year was much more consistent than his first. In the middle of a quarterback competition between Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater messed up the personnel groupings to ensure the quarterbacks had an even playing field this summer, Jeudy consistently shook low on the sideline or took a short throw and made a big game out of it.
“He’s just a unique talent,” Broncos security Kareem Jackson said. “I mean, there aren’t a lot of guys that are young and able to run routes like him [does]. Just conceptually, the speed he has to get on and off his breaks. “
The always reticent Jeudy said: “Really, I just had to concentrate on the things that I didn’t do so well last year. So in the off-season I just focused on … Just focused on the ball, my catch, hand strength – stuff like that. “
Across the line of scrimmage, Broncos coach Vic Fangio has described Surtain’s ability to digest virtually any information the Broncos gathered early on his rookie plate as “rare”. Fangio has already placed Surtain in several places in the formation, including the linebacker spot of the weak side in the dime (six defensive backs).
“He’s just a jack of all trades,” said Simmons. “He gets football and he understands it. He conceptually understands what we’re doing in defense. It’s great to watch him play.”
“Oh yeah, [Surtain is] probably one of the fastest I’ve ever seen a rookie get used to defense and take multiple places, “said Broncos cornerback Bryce Callahan. “It’s pretty impressive.”
Fangio let Surtain play on the left cornerback, right cornerback, and slot early on during the team’s offseason program, then added dime in work during camp. Surtain, trained by a longtime defensive backs coach in Nick Saban, Alabama and a father, Patrick Sr., who was his high school coach and three-time Pro Bowl pick during his eleven-year career, has simply turned the unusual into business as usual.
“I just take it day in and day out and learn each position just in case the team needs me in certain places,” said Surtain. “I’m just picking up the playbook and translating it onto the field.”
The couple’s success would continue a design resurgence. Of the 16 players the Broncos selected in the 2016 and 2017 draft together, only Simmons remains in the roster. These two draft classes were at least part of the start of a series of five consecutive playoff failures. But the last four drafts, including last April, could push the team back into meaningful games after Thanksgiving.
The Broncos, including Rookie Security Jamar Johnson, Cornerback sophomore Essang Bassey and rookie linebackers Baron Browning (Johnson is on the Reserve / COVID-19 list while Bassey and Browning are on PUP when they return from injuries) have 41 players labeled as first or second year players, or just over 50% of the time Training camp list.
“There is good energy in the locker room,” said Jeudy. “… I feel like the energy is a lot different than last year this year. Everyone just knows each other a lot better and that builds up a lot of chemistry. I have a feeling that this year will be a great year Year.”