The Denver Broncos shocked the draft community and upset a fairly large portion of the fan base when they chose to pass on the quarterback position, and instead add stud cornerback Patrick Surtain II in the 2021 NFL Draft.

One year in, and the decision is looking pretty respectable, as Surtain emerged as a legitimate top-flight cornerback and has the athletic traits to develop even further, and maybe one day become the best cornerback in all of football.

Pro Football Focus anticipates Surtain taking another step towards that level of superstardom this season. In a recent article listing every team’s most likely breakout candidate, PFF analyst Anthony Treash listed Surtain as Denver’s breakout star.

“Making the jump from college to the NFL is tough for cornerbacks,” Treash wrote. “Just ask Atlanta Falcons cornerback A.J. Terrell, who went from allowing 901 yards as a rookie in 2020 to just 200 yards in 2021. Surtain was seemingly unaffected by the dreaded learning curve, though. After a few poorly graded games in the first quarter of the season, the ‘Bama product stepped up and became a legitimate CB1 for Denver. Since Week 7, he is one of the 25 highest-graded players at the position and has allowed more than 60 yards in coverage just once this season. He leads the rookie class in pass breakups plus interceptions with 12.”

Surtain is an excellent choice for this, as he plays a premier NFL position, has elite athletic potential, and thrived as a rookie despite all the odds being stacked against him. Not only was he a rookie No. 1 corner, which is especially hard to pull off, but he did that after having to learn four different positions in a COVID offseason, and with the rest of the secondary underperforming relative to expectations.