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Broncos pick Alabama DB Patrick Surtain II in 1st Round of 2021 NFL Draft

The Denver Broncos bypassed quarterbacks Justin Fields and Mac Jones and selected Alabama cornerback Patrick Surtain II with the ninth pick of the NFL draft Thursday

DENVER — The Denver Broncos bypassed quarterbacks Justin Fields and Mac Jones and selected Alabama cornerback Patrick Surtain II with the ninth pick of the NFL draft Thursday night.

Instead of grabbing a quarterback to counter Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert and Derek Carr in the stacked AFC West, new general manager George Paton picked a cornerback who can help curtail those passers.

Surtain is the second consecutive Alabama alum selected in the first round by the Broncos, who drafted wide receiver Jerry Jeudy with the 15th overall pick last year.

Picking a defender leaves a QB room of incumbent Drew Lock and veteran Teddy Bridgewater. On Wednesday, Paton sent a 2021 sixth-round pick to Carolina for Bridgewater, who was 4-11 last year with the Panthers. Lock was 4-9 in Denver.

Quarterback has been the Broncos' biggest bugaboo since winning Super Bowl 50 in Hall of Famer Peyton Manning's farewell game — they haven't been back to the playoffs since.

The Panthers, who are paying $7 million of the $10 million Bridgewater is due in 2021, are restructuring his deal to facilitate the trade that is expected to be finalized by Saturday.

Paton has rebuilt Denver's secondary this offseason, signing free agent cornerbacks Kyle Fuller and Ronald Darby and re-signing safeties Kareem Jackson and Justin Simmons, who was franchised for a second consecutive year.