The North Carolina Tar Heels aren’t a household name for top defensive prospects, having only eight prospects from the defensive side of the ball since 2013. However, in a very talented 2021 linebacker class, there is no doubt that the most athletic player in the positional group is North Carolina’s Chazz Surratt. When it comes to the 2021 NFL Draft, keep an eye on Chazz Surratt, as he has a chance to be the best UNC defender to enter the NFL ranks since linebacker Zach Brown, who was a second-round selection in 2012.
Chazz Surratt NFL Draft Profile
- Height: 6-foot-3
- Weight: 225 pounds
- Position: Linebacker
- School: North Carolina
- Year: Graduate Student
Linebacker Chazz Surratt isn’t the only member of the Surratt household that is a legitimate NFL prospect, as his brother Sage is currently a member of the Wake Forest Demon Deacons and has the potential to be a Day 2 pick in the 2021 draft.
Chazz played his high school football at East Lincoln High School in Denver, North Carolina, where he was an extremely decorated quarterback. In fact, he currently holds state records for passing yards (16,593 yards) and touchdowns (229).
According to Rivals, Surratt was a highly sought after four-star dual-threat quarterback recruit, having schools such as Boston College, Clemson, and Duke vying for his services. Ultimately, Surratt chose Chapel Hill as his destination and signed with the North Carolina Tar Heels.
Surratt started his UNC career as a quarterback, receiving minimal action in his first two years on campus. In 2019, he made the switch to linebacker, which proved to be an outstanding move, as Surratt’s play led him to be named First-Team All-ACC and runner-up for ACC Defensive Player of the Year with 115 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, a forced fumble, and an interception.
The decision to make the switch to linebacker was initiated by Chazz himself, as he approached head coach Mack Brown and asked to be moved to the defensive side of the ball.
Surratt shines in UNC’s thrilling victory over Wake Forest
Chazz Surratt started his career as a dual-threat quarterback, but injuries and stiff competition made it tough for him to see the field. In 2018, Surratt transitioned from quarterback to linebacker. Positional transfers happen often, but not many of this nature occur. Imagine if you heard that Trevor Lawrence was going to play linebacker for Clemson next season.
Now in his second season playing linebacker, however, Surratt is showcasing traits that will have NFL front offices salivating. Ironically, having played the quarterback position will help Surratt play defense, as his experience on offense should help him forecast opposing offenses’ movements.
Thus far in 2020, Surratt’s play has been inconsistent; he plays extremely well one week and looks lost the next. In Week 10’s showdown against conference rival Virginia, Surratt was excellent, so based on the trend we’ve seen, he should have been due for a stinker, right?
To quote the great Lee Corso, “Not so fast!”
Surratt was the best defensive player on the field in North Carolina’s thrilling 59-53 defeat of the Wake Forest Demon Deacons in Week 11. He lit up the box score with a game-high 14 tackles, including 2.0 tackles for loss and a key fourth-down sack on Wake Forest quarterback Sam Hartman. This sack ended up being the biggest defensive play of the game, as it gave the ball back to the Tar Heel offense with 3:30 remaining.
In a post-game interview, Surratt stated, “We knew we needed to get the ball back to our offense, any way how. I think it just came down to one-on-one matchups, really. We put our corners out there on islands a lot of time. They were able to make plays, cover guys. In turn, we were able to get their offense off the field. That’s just what happened.”
Surratt’s instincts, relentless pursuit, sideline-to-sideline speed and playmaking ability were on full display. He showcased his superior blitzing ability throughout the contest and flashed his ability to cover, which are traits that will have Surratt ascending up draft boards.
At this point, there is no reason to doubt that Chazz Surratt could end up a potential first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Penn State’s Micah Parsons is the prize of the positional group, but with Alabama’s Dylan Moses struggling to regain form, and size concerns surrounding Notre Dame’s Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Surratt could very well insert himself into the conversation of being the second linebacker selected in April.
As I’ve mentioned in the past, due to his athletic profile and unparalleled athleticism, Surratt is drawing comparisons to San Francisco 49ers’ Pro Bowl linebacker Fred Warner. While Surratt needs to improve his tackling and add bulk, he does provide a high ceiling.
North Carolina does not play this weekend, but up next for Chazz Surratt and the Tar Heel defense is a showdown with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, who are currently ranked second in the nation. With the world watching, can Surratt string together another outstanding performance, this time against one of college football’s best teams?
Chazz Surratt rebounds nicely against Duke to help maintain his NFL Draft stock
In Week 10 of the college football season, we saw the North Carolina Tar Heels rebound nicely, as they put the beatdown on the conference rival Duke Blue Devils, winning the game by the score of 56-24. It was nice to see North Carolina bounce back from the devastating loss they suffered at the hands of the Virginia Cavaliers the week before. The Tar Heels now sit at 5-2 on the season and are currently ranked fourth in the ACC.
North Carolina’s best prospect for the 2021 NFL Draft, linebacker Chazz Surratt, also experienced a solid bounce-back performance. Surratt was borderline awful against Virginia the week before, missing tackles and taking horrendous pursuit angles, which played a major factor in the Tar Heels suffering a defeat. According to Surratt, the North Carolina defense had a chip on their shoulder heading into this week’s game against Duke. He exclaimed that the Tar Heels’ defense “wanted to get the bad taste out of our mouths.”
Well, they did that for sure, and Surratt was superb, securing 12 tackles and flashing his playmaking ability by recovering a Blue Devils fumble on the first play of the second half. He showcased his brilliant athleticism and demonstrated jaw-dropping sideline-to-sideline ability throughout the entire game. Also, while he didn’t record a sack, he was a menace, applying constant pressure on Duke quarterback Chase Brice.
While Surratt’s season has had its share of ups and downs, he has been terrific overall. When evaluating Surratt, you must keep in mind that this is only his second season playing the linebacker position — so he has a ton of room for growth. On the season, Surratt has 54 tackles, 12 quarterback hits, and an astonishing 24 quarterback pressures.
Due to his elite athleticism, a knack for making plays and skill rushing the passer, Surratt is drawing rave reviews in the draft community. I’ve seen mock drafts that have Surratt being selected in the first round, but I think that is a little rich at this point. With that said, I don’t foresee a scenario where he isn’t a top-50 selection in the 2021 NFL Draft. Teams such as the Philadelphia Eagles, Cleveland Browns, Buffalo Bills, and Green Bay Packers would be tremendous fits for Surratt.
This week, Surratt has an opportunity to keep his momentum going, as the Tar Heels host a talented Wake Forest Demon Deacons team at Kenan Memorial Stadium. Will Surratt continue his trend of being a turnover machine in conference play?
Will the real Chazz Surratt please stand up?
If I had to describe the 2020 play of North Carolina linebacker Chazz Surratt using one word, that word would be “inconsistent.”
Surratt played a poor game in Week 7 against the Florida State Seminoles but was able to follow it up with a masterful Week 8 performance against the N.C. State Wolfpack, which earned him ACC Linebacker of the Week honors for the second time on the season. This week, the 15th-ranked Tar Heels suffered a stunning 44-41 loss to the Virginia Cavaliers, and in this game, Surratt was a borderline train wreck. Overall, the North Carolina defense gave up 210 rushing yards on the evening and played uninspired football.
The box score will show that Surratt secured 10 tackles, and you might ask yourself, “Why is he saying Surratt played poorly when he accounted for double-digit tackles?” but don’t let the stat line fool you. Surratt was consistently washed in the running game by a very average Cavaliers’ offensive line. He took bad pursuit angles for most of the evening, including one play in particular where Surratt’s abysmal angle resulted in a 71-yard touchdown reception for Virginia running back Shane Simpson on a swing pass. This play was one of the deciding factors in giving Virginia the “W,” and Surratt looked lost on the play, as he was late to recognize his coverage assignment.
Chazz Surratt, a former quarterback, revitalized his collegiate career after transitioning to linebacker. His freaky athleticism and range will draw comparisons to San Francisco 49ers’ stud linebacker Fred Warner, who has blossomed into one of the NFL’s best defensive players. He has a long way to go before he is at the caliber of Warner, but Surratt oozes big-play potential as he lights up the box scores with the high-level sack and turnover production. With that said, he must improve his fundamentals to become stouter against the run and drastically improve his pursuit angles. It’s worth mentioning that warts should be expected in Surratt’s game, as he is only playing his second season at the linebacker position.
Despite some size limitations and improvement against the run being paramount, NFL scouts will fall in love with Surratt’s upside, and he should hear his name called on Day 2 of the 2021 NFL Draft. His 2020 season has been a seesaw of good and bad performance, which means that Surratt is due for an outstanding performance in this week’s matchup against the Duke Blue Devils at Wallace Wade Stadium. In last season’s North Carolina victory over Duke, Chazz Surratt secured the win with a game-ending interception in the end zone. What type of fireworks will Surratt bring when North Carolina battles Duke this Saturday?