Patrick Surtain II saw the 720 area code and knew he was going to be a Denver Bronco.
"It was a Denver area code, so I knew what team was going to pick me," Surtain said after being picked by the Broncos ninth overall. "I was very excited — emotional at the same time, too."
The Alabama cornerback said he knew he was likely going in the top 10, being ranked by many as the top corner in the draft. He didn't know, though, it was going to be Denver. Many believed he would go to Dallas at 10, and with Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields available at nine, some were surprised the Broncos went with Surtain.
"The board just kind of fell where Surtain was there and we couldn't pass him up," general manager George Paton said. "He was just too talented, too unique, too good off the field, too good on the field. I'm familiar with his dad, his family. It was a home run for the Broncos to get Patrick Surtain II."
But Surtain appeared to be their guy all along, especially after the Broncos turned down several offers to trade back.
"I had some communication with the Broncos, it wasn't a lot of communication, but it was some communication through some parts," Surtain said. "But when I got off the phone with the Broncos, the coaches were very excited to have me up there. They talked about how I can fit in as a key piece, a key role in their scheme."
Surtain makes a lot of sense for the Broncos, as the cornerback room was arguably their biggest concern this offseason. They addressed it in free agency, signing Chicago's Kyle Fuller and Washington's Ronald Darby — two of the best cornerbacks on the market. But with Fuller on a one-year deal and returning starter Bryce Callahan becoming a free agent next offseason, depth was still an issue.
"I benefit a lot, learning from (Fuller, Darby and Callahan) — very experienced guys in the NFL. Just picking their brain each and every day. I think it'll be a benefit for me," Surtain said. "I think I can come in Day 1 and just make an impact on a team by my play style, by my play traits. I think I come in and make an immediate impact."
Surtain might not start next season, but he'll certainly see the field in coach Vic Fangio's defense.
"You’re playing a lot of 5 defensive backs a good bit of the time, so we’ll have plenty of opportunity to get him in there," Fangio said. "What I like about him is that he's shown he's very capable both in man and zone. I think he has good eyes, meaning he sees more than just the guy he's lined up on. Good tackler in the running game. Has good ball skills, and I think he has the versatility, although we haven't really seen it on tape, but everything we know him and what he's shown, there's a good chance that he can play inside, too, if we need him to."
He was a three-year start at Alabama and was a unanimous First-Team All American last year and the SEC defensive player of the year. He totaled 118 tackles, 24 passes defensed and four interceptions in his college career, allowing only 21 completions against him on 48 targets for 273 yards in 2020. He also helped the Crimson Tide secure the 2020-21 national championship.
Thursday, he labeled himself an "all-around corner" and is believed to fit in well Fangio's defensive scheme.
"I can fit in man, zone, anywhere you need me," Surtain said.
Having played against NFL-caliber wide receivers in college — including his own teammate in Jerry Jeudy — Surtain feels as though he can help an already talented defensive roster, which includes players like outside linebacker Von Miller and safety Justin Simmons.
"It's a very stacked defense," Surtain said. "I can't wait to compete with those guys at a high level each and every day. I think when you look at it, when it's all said and done, we're going to be the No. 1 defense in the NFL."
The son of Patrick Surtain Sr., who played 11 years in the NFL at cornerback and coached his son at American Heritage High School, Surtain won't lack confidence in a locker room full of talent in the secondary. His dad set a high bar, making three pro bowls and totaling 37 interceptions in his career. Surtain said he's learned a lot from his dad and that he tries "not to be too cocky" about passing him some day.
But now it's his turn. And while he may not have been the pick Broncos Country envisioned Thursday night, he feels ready to put his stamp on Denver.
"It's a new journey, a new stepping stone. But it doesn't stop here. I've still got more work to do," Surtain said. "I feel like I'm going to be able to come in and compete and play. I'm going to give Mile High, Broncos nation all I've got.
"I'm trying to be known as one of the best in the game."