LB Chazz Surratt, North Carolina (6’2”, 225)

Background:

Started his collegiate career at quarterback, spending two seasons in that role. Appeared in ten games as a passer, throwing eight touchdowns to three interceptions as a freshman, but injuring his wrist one game into the following year after throwing three interceptions on ten attempts. Subsequently converted to linebacker and immediately stepped into a starting role, posting a whopping 115-15.0-6.5 as a junior and 91-7.5-6.0 as a senior, to go along with two career interceptions.

Positives:

Has only been playing linebacker for two years and was able to produce immediately. Was asked to line up in different spots and could conceivably be viewed as either a middle linebacker or a weakside linebacker (most likely the latter.) Sideline-to-sideline athlete with impressive speed. Closes well when tracking down ballcarriers in the open field. Light on his feet, allowing him to shuffle into lanes or sidestep blockers when working between the tackles. Gets extension with his arms into blockers and shows better contact balance than his size would indicate. Closing burst also lends itself to rushing the passer, and enjoyed a lot of success finishing off opposing quarterbacks when schemed an open lane. Made a lot of drops into zone, showing above-average range and fluidity. Can shade over bunches and handle route combinations adequately.

Negatives:

On the smaller side for a linebacker, even in the modern game; may be asked to gain another five or ten pounds. Still honing his instincts and can look reactive rather than anticipatory at times. Can struggle to hold his ground when taking on blocks between the tackles, looking more comfortable flowing horizontally. Has a tendency to overpursue, taking himself out of position. Will also occasionally come in too fast, leading to missed tackles. Doesn’t have a lot of stopping power to set the tone or limit yards after contact. Still needs to clean up his balance/form a little bit when working in zone coverage. Didn’t see him working in man much although he has the type of athleticism teams would look for in a player who works against running backs.

Summary:

Basically has the type of skillset and game you’d expect from an athletic, undersized weakside linebacker who’s still growing into the position; looks athletic when flowing horizontally and pursuing the run, and is capable of closing on quarterbacks and handling zone coverage duties. Athletic profile could make him a sub-package defender and special-teams contributor early in hsi career, but will have to continue adding functional strength, improving his ability to read keys, and clean up his tackling by breaking down more consistently. Tools and trajectory will probably get him some second-day looks.

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