Without the benefit of the scouting combine or in-person visits to team complexes, most NFL teams made concerted efforts to gather as much information as possible on prospects they were considering.
But Paton purposely went into stealth mode, with a total communications blackout leading up to Denver's selection of Surtain on Thursday night.
"I knew the family, I knew [his] dad, I knew where he came from," Paton said Friday. "We tried to hide our interest a little bit.
"I never spoke with Patrick; I never Zoomed with him. I told our coaches, 'Don't call him.' I told our scouts, 'Don't call, don't Zoom.' I didn't go to the Alabama pro day. This is a kid we targeted; this is a kid we wanted. We are very fortunate he was there."
That doesn't mean Paton didn't have plenty of intel anyway. He was Miami's director of pro personnel when Surtain's father, Patrick Sr., was a cornerback with the Dolphins. The Broncos had also amassed three years' worth of scouting reports on Surtain II from his time at Alabama.
Alabama coach Nick Saban also was the Dolphins' head coach in 2005 and 2006 -- Paton's last two seasons with Miami before joining the Minnesota Vikings as director of player personnel in 2007.
"I got the call immediately [before the No. 9 selection]. I realized that it was a Denver area code, so I knew what team was going to pick me," Surtain said. "I was very excited and emotional at the same time. It's a very exciting feeling."
Surtain added that he had spoken to Broncos wide receiver Jerry Jeudy, a former Alabama teammate whom Denver selected in the first round last year, in recent weeks, but the two had not even talked about the possibility of becoming NFL teammates.
"We haven't been talking about joining the same team, but it's kind of crazy the way that things all circle around together," Surtain said. "I know that he is probably very excited, and I know that I'm very excited to ... reunite with him."