The Pittsburgh Steelers are one of many NFL organizations who could be looking at a linebacker in the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft. However, unlike the other franchises who are looking to add to their current depth chart, the Steelers possess the 24th overall pick.
The question isn’t whether a linebacker will be available at No. 24, but if there is a linebacker who is worthy of a first round pick. The past two weeks I talked about quarterbacks, both top tier and mid tier signal callers, and running backs. Now it is time to go to the other side of the ball and look at some defenders.
It felt appropriate to first break down a player many Steelers fans have been talking about, especially after the University of North Carolina Pro Day on Monday. That would be none other than linebacker Chazz Surratt.
Surratt is a linebacker who is considered a mid-round selection, and could be a great piece to the Steelers’ defensive puzzle. He has athleticism and speed to match his style of play. You can see his 40-yard dash time below:
Unofficial 40 times for UNC’s pro day from our crew there— Andrew Groover (@APGroover) March 29, 2021
Yes, that’s Surratt who is running just a shade behind the famous running back duo of the Tar Heels.
We all know the Steelers will want to add to their linebacker depth, but will it be in the draft, or via Free Agency? As of right now, the Steelers could be poised to take a defender, but would not have to take Surratt in the first round.
Don’t listen to me, or anyone else, form your own opinion on Surratt. I plan on doing this for other prospects as the draft approaches. If there is a specific player you’d like to see covered, simply let me know and I’ll be glad to put it together!
Let us know your thoughts on Surratt in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the new league year, NFL Free Agency and the 2021 NFL Draft.
Chazz Surratt came to North Carolina to play quarterback, where he started seven games as a redshirt freshman in 2017 and entered 2018 as the Tar Heels’ starter. His 2018 season was delayed, however, because of a four-game suspension because he sold team-issued sneakers. When he returned to the lineup, Surratt completed 4-of-10 passes for 10 yards and three interceptions before injuring his wrist, which required season-ending surgery. When his wrist healed and he was ready to return to the field, discussions between Surratt and then-head coach Larry Fedora began regarding a switch to the defensive side of the football. Surratt considered a transfer to another university to continue as a quarterback but he met with newly hired head coach Mack Brown regarding his status with the program and he decided to stay. Surratt made it clear to Brown that it was his goal to play in the NFL and both agreed his best course was to make the transition to linebacker. Surratt’s first year at linebacker was in 2019 and he was outstanding. Appearing in all 13 games with 11 starts, Surratt was a First-Team All-ACC selection and runner-up for ACC Defensive Player of the Year. With 115 tackles, Surratt led the Tar Heels and finished second in the ACC with 88 tackles per game. Surratt logged 15 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, and 10 quarterback hurries. He took another step forward in 2020, becoming more polished when it comes to coverage drops, pursuit angles, and tackling. Surratt is an exciting package of size, mobility, and physicality, but there are times studying his tape when you are reminded that he is still new to the position. Surratt will need to continue developing at the position and if he does, he has the makings of a starting pursuit-style linebacker that can make plays on every down.
Ideal Role: Pursuit-style 4-3 outside linebacker that brings value on every down.
Scheme Fit: 4-3 outside linebacker.
- Position: Linebacker
- School: North Carolina
- Current Year: Redshirt Senior
- Height: 6’2″
- Weight: 228 pounds
- Wingspan: 76″
- Arms: 30″
- Hands: 9 1/2″
Positives: Underrated linebacker with a three-down game. Breaks down well, flows to the action and shows resilience. Uses his hands to protect himself, is fluid moving laterally, and possesses a closing burst to the play. Instinctive, quick to read and diagnose, and remains disciplined with assignments.
Easily changes direction and immediately alters his angle of attack without losing momentum. Gets depth on pass drops and shows excellent range. Fast in pursuit and quickly gets out to the flanks defending the run. Patient, fires upfield and fills the correct gaps in run defense. Squares and wraps up tackling.
Negatives: Not a big or stout linebacker. Easily sealed from the action and gets out-positioned by blocks. More of a drag-down tackler.
Analysis: Surratt was a consistent playmaking linebacker for North Carolina the past two years and is a complete three-down defender who is effective pursuing the run or covering the pass. He’ll be downgraded because of average size and play speed, yet Surratt offers starting potential in the proper system.
- Sideline-to-sideline speed
- Good pursuit defender
- Closing quickness
- Dangerous blitzer
- Fires into the backfield to pressure QBs quickly
- Ability to redirect
- Potential to be good pass-coverage linebacker
- Could help cover running backs, tight ends, receivers
- Good sub-package linebacker
- Quick; covers a lot of ground
- Covers a lot of ground in zone coverage
- Could also contribute on special teams
- Too many missed tackles
- Must improve tackling technique
- Needs refinement
- Flashes instincts, but inconsistent
- Needs to get better at taking on and shedding blocks
Player Comparison: Shaq Thompson. There are a lot of similarities with Surratt and Thompson. Both played offense in college and were athletic linebackers who were raw and in need of development. Thompson was further along than Surrat, which is why Thompson was a first-rounder, but if Surratt develops, he could turn into a solid pro linebacker like Thompson.
6’1”, 227 pounds per Senior Bowl measurements.
2020: 91 tackles (7.5 for loss), six sacks, three passes broken up and an interception in 11 games played.
Chazz Surratt, the older brother of Wake Forrest wide receiver Sage Surratt, is an extremely gifted athlete with elite burst and acceleration, as well as more than adequate top-end speed. This is evident in coverage and when he rounds the corner on blitzes. Surratt has great closing speed and flips his hips quickly, allowing him to serve as an instinctive linebacker with true sideline-to-sideline range.
Surratt is aggressive, playing with a sense of urgency that matches his athletic profile. His ceiling is extremely high, both as a cover linebacker but also as a pass-rushing weapon. His prior experience playing the quarterback position gives him a firsthand look at what opposing field generals are thinking. Once he rounds out his game, Surratt has the ability to be a special player.
While Surratt’s potential is a plus, it will certainly take a lot of work in order for him to cash in on it. He’s a smart player but is still developing as someone who is relatively new to the position. Missed reads and poor angles occasionally pop up on his tape and while Surratt is a willing tackler, he’s a bit inconsistent in that area. These are things that should improve with playing time and experience, although they’ll be put under a microscope at the next level.