Do you remember the shock that spiked on Seahawks' social media when Seattle used its first-round selection in the 2020 draft on a linebacker? How could a team with Super Bowl aspirations "waste" a pick on a player that would join arguably the deepest and most talented position group in Seattle since 2014?
As it turns out, the Seahawks' selection of Jordyn Brooks appears to be a hit for general manager John Schneider. An unfortunate season-ending injury to Bruce Irvin opened the door to move K.J. Wright to the SAM linebacker spot, which gave Brooks a significant number of snaps in his rookie season. The results were largely mixed for Brooks, but anybody could see the growth in his game throughout the season and the type of speed that reminds one of a younger Bobby Wagner.
At its peak, the Seahawks vaunted Legion of Boom had the fastest linebacking corps in the league to go along with a vicious pass rush and elite secondary. While the Seahawks are unlikely to have another defense like the L.O.B., adding speed to the linebacking group is imperative to help corral the offenses of the NFC West. Thankfully, North Carolina linebacker Chazz Surratt fits the profile beautifully.
Two things will jump out to any football fan when they put on the film of Surratt: he's an excellent athlete, and his speed is more than impressive. It isn't often that a linebacker looks like the fastest man on the field, but Surratt flashes that ability all the time. Interestingly, Surratt began his career as a quarterback, making the transition to linebacker before the 2019 season. Surratt dominated in his first season on defense and led the team with 115 tackles. He also collected 15 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks.
Surratt's high motor shows up in his pass-rushing skills, where he lacks the refined skills to consistently get home as a rookie; but his raw tools are tantalizing, to say the least. Surratt also shows incredible acceleration in coverage and has the tenacity and speed to cover tight ends.
His athleticism jumps off the charts and his raw tools will be enticing to most teams this April. He plays incredibly hard and fast, and has the potential to add pass-rush value as well as above-average coverage skills. Surratt, quite frankly, has Pro Bowl upside.
As you might expect from a guy who played quarterback until 2019, some of the finer details at the position aren't yet a part of Surratt's tool belt. It doesn't mean he won't figure them out, just that he hasn't yet. He'll take shallow angles in the run game, relying on his speed to overcome poor technique. He occasionally struggles to understand leverage and as a result, has had some tackling issues crop up in his college career.
Surratt's relatively few snaps at the position will work against him, as will his frame. At 6-foot-2, 228 pounds, more than one or two teams are sure to question his long-term success at the position. In addition to being on the smaller side, Surratt will be a 24-year old rookie, something teams will have to take into account.
Fit in Seattle
Surratt's athleticism and motor will appeal to Pete Carroll, John Schneider, and Ken Norton Jr. The uncertainty surrounding K.J. Wright's return, as well as the lack of development from Cody Barton, could leave an opening for Surratt to see the field almost immediately. Thankfully, the Seahawks still have Wagner who can help the young wild bull settle into the scheme and Seattle has the depth at the position to put Surratt in situations where his athleticism will play.
A long-term future that has Brooks as the MIKE and Surratt as the WILL is a mouth-watering thought. If Surratt wasn't an exceptional athlete, spending another high draft pick on the position would be problematic. But Surratt has the potential to fill a Bruce Irvin 2012-like role for Seattle, where he'll get to use his athleticism to attack the quarterback on obvious passing downs while slowly being brought into the fold in the run game. The great Seahawks defenses were built on speed and there isn't a linebacker in this draft faster than Chazz Surratt.