How he fits: The Lions have two young cornerbacks they like in Jeff Okudah and Amani Oruwariye, and the team added veterans Corn Elder and Quinton Dunbar in free agency, but Elder and Dunbar are only on one-year deals, which means there’s still a long-term need at the cornerback position.
Surtain is long and rangy, and arguably the best cornerback in a very good draft class for corners this year. He played both inside and outside at Alabama. His father was a Pro Bowl cornerback. He’s extremely durable, playing in every game for the Tide the last three seasons.
He recorded 23 passes defended, three interceptions and three forced fumbles over the last two seasons.
Key observations: Allowed only four touchdowns and a 46.1 completion percentage on throws into his coverage in 41 career games. He was the top rated college cornerback by Pro Football Focus last season and was also a first-team All-American by the Associated Press and the SEC Defensive Player of the Year in 2020.
What they had to say about him: “Lockdown, press-man cornerback with elite size, length and talent to match up with any brand of receiver from any place on the field. He was a five-star recruit coming in and he consistently competed for championships in high school and college. Surtain possesses elite physical and athletic traits with the rare combination of length and short-area quickness that allows him to play on a press-man island and phase routes on all three levels.
“He plays to his length with plus technique and cover skills that make winning downfield a very challenging proposition. He was beaten in true man-to-man battles for 29-plus yards just five times during his career. His ability to stay connected to the route allows him to shut down yards after catch very quickly as a strong, wrap-up tackler. Run support goes in the “strengths” column, as well. He’s been well-schooled at home and at Alabama. He’s wired like a future All-Pro cornerback.” – Lance Zierlein, NFL analyst