Updated: Apr 14, 2021
By Adam Aniba
Draft Prospect Spotlight; Chazz Surratt
As Washington heads into the offseason as defending NFC East champions, the focus will be on upgrading offensive skill positions, in addition to signing/drafting another quarterback. Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio was able to turn a bottom-of-the-league defensive unit in 2019 to a top 5 ranked defensive unit in 2020. Much of the team success is attributed to the play of Montez Sweat and DROA Chase Young along with a stout defensive line. Although the unit had a dramatic turnaround in 2020 against teams such as the Rams, Cardinals and Ravens, Washington's defensive unit fell flat.
Middle linebacker is a position of need on defense heading into the NFL draft. The linebacker play in 2020 was up and down. Stand out second year linebacker Cole Holcomb dealt with injury setbacks early but came on strong toward the end of the season. Next to Holcomb, Jon Bostic made a few key plays during the season but, at this point, the journeyman seems better suited as a rotational option. Finding a MIKE linebacker that can be effective against the run, but more importantly excel in coverage, is an issue Washington has failed to address in the early portions of the draft or free agency.
The Burgundy and Gold Gold Report spotlights North Carolina Linebacker Chazz Surratt who could be a Day 2 difference maker at linebacker for Washington.
2nd-3rd Round Grade | LB | North Carolina
Height: 6 feet, 1 1/2 inches
Weight: 227 lbs
Hand: 9 5/8"
Arm: 30 2/8"
Wingspan: 75 4/8"
Short Shuttle: 4.18
Bench Press: 25
Career Stats (24 games '19-'20 after switch to LB) 206 total tackles (91 solo) 22.5 TFL, 2 ints, 12.5 sacks, 5 PD, 2FR and 2 FF
2020 91 tak (44 solo), 7.5 TFL, 6 sacks, 1 int, 3 PD, 1FR and 1FF
The story of Surratt's rise is unlike any other prospect at the Senior Bowl. After being recruited as a quarterback at UNC in 2016, Surratt dealt with injuries during his first two seasons there. A ligament injury in his hand coupled with a new coaching staff pushed Surratt to consider a position switch or consider life after football.
Tale of the Tape
Can drop the hammer in the run game
History as a HS and college quarterback aide him as the MIKE linebacker and a defensive signal caller
Disciplined eyes always focused on the ball
At his best when attacking the quarterback and utilized in blitz packages (12.5 sacks in 2 seasons at LB)
Displays the ability to redirect and chase the ball carrier effectively, if out of position
Excellent in pursuit and will be the last player to stop on the whistle
Can play on an island and hold his own as a drop-back linebacker
Excellent wrap-up-tackler and doesn't go for the knockout blow
Versatility to play all three LB positions
Surratt not only took on the challenge of a position switch with a new coaching staff but he gained 15 lbs and switched to the defensive side of the ball. By week #1 of his junior season he convinced the coaching staff to give him a shot to start at linebacker and the early returns were impressive. The Tar Heel linebacker recorded 12 tackles in his first game against S. Carolina, making plays all over the field.
Surratt finished the 2019 season 2nd for ACC Defensive Player of the Year and led his team in tackles with 115 (49 solo) while adding 15.0 tak for a loss, 6.5 sacks, 1 int. 2 PD, 1FR and 1FF. His coaches realized quickly that the converted quarterback's athleticism and ability would allow them to deploy him in a variety of ways. The Tar Heel linebacker saw time at all three LB spots, including being deployed as a situational pass rusher. His ability to drop in coverage and lock down portions of the field showed how quick he could adapt. Surratt is a just scratching the surface of his talent level at linebacker and has the skill-set built for the modern NFL game.
Fit in Washington
While at UNC, Surratt was the primary spy anytime the Tar Heels faced athletic dual threat quarterbacks such as Miami's D'Eriq King. Although the Tar Heel linebacker only played the position for two season, he's shown his natural ability as a playmaker. As with many Day 2-3 linebacker prospects, he'll need refinement. However, the complicated sub-packages and bail-coverage Surratt was exposed to in Mack Brown's system will go a long way towards his transition on the next level.
While it's still a question if Chazz Surratt will start his career at MLB linebacker or WLB, he displayed how much of an asset he can be in coverage as well as being deployed to attack the line of scrimmage. Although Cole Holcomb and Chazz Surratt were on different sides of the ball while at Chapel Hill together, both could form a formidable duo in Washington.
With Surratt's stock on the rise, he could go as early as the latter portions of round 2. Washington's need for a starting MLB is well documented. Although Surratt isn't a prototypical linebacker and lacks experience, his ability to play a variety of positions in sub packages will be appealing to teams. Whether the team views him as a starting MLB or WLB, the UNC linebacker provides the athletic ability and instincts to have success as a coverage linebacker in Jack Del Rio's defense.
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*Official measurements from the 2021 Senior Bowl with draft grades cross-referenced with The Draft Network