The Minnesota Vikings have selected UNC linebacker Chazz Surratt with the No. 78 overall pick in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Surratt is their first defensive player selected after they began the draft with left tackle Christian Darrisaw and quarterback Kellen Mond.
Surratt is a very interesting prospect. He was a quarterback when he arrived at North Carolina, but converted to linebacker prior to the 2019 season. Surratt is a fantastic athlete who racked up 207 tackles, 12.5 sacks, 22,5 total TFLs, two interceptions, and two forced fumbles over the past two seasons.
Because he's still relatively new to playing on defense, Surratt still has some growing and learning to do, but his athleticism gives him a chance to become an impact player.
Surratt has good size at 6'2", 229 pounds, and has plenty of speed and quickness at that size. He can run sideline to sideline and make plays against the run as an outside linebacker, although he's still developing more consistency as a tackler. His range also gives him plenty of upside in coverage.
Surratt may not play a ton as a rookie for the Vikings. Minnesota already has Eric Kendricks, Anthony Barr, and free agent acquisition Nick Vigil. But Barr restructured his contract this offseason and is a free agent in 2022. He may very well be playing his final year with the Vikings. Vigil is also on a one-year deal. Surratt could force his way onto the field in 2021 if he impresses in camp, but this is another pick — like the Kellen Mond one before it — that looks towards the future.
Vikings linebackers coach Adam Zimmer and head coach Mike Zimmer will look to harness Surratt's explosiveness and toughness and turn him into a great NFL linebacker.
Here's what The Athletic's Dane Brugler said about Surratt.
A two-year starter at North Carolina, Surratt lined up at inside linebacker in co-defensive coordinator Tommy Thigpen’s 3-4 base scheme. With the NFL on his mind, the former quarterback voluntarily made the switch to linebacker (a position he hadn’t played since ninth grade) prior to his junior year, making a surprisingly smooth transition (206 tackles over 22 starts). Surratt is field fast and moves really well at the position to cover, blitz or chase down the run, showing the smarts to consistently be around the football. However, his take-on skills and finishing ability aren’t yet strengths to his game, and he sticks to blocks and often arrives too hot as a tackler. Overall, Surratt must improve his run fits and develop in several areas, but he has the athleticism, instincts and competitive toughness to be a high-volume tackler and run-around weakside linebacker in the NFL.
And here's a scouting report from SI's NFL Draft Bible.
Beginning his career as the starting quarterback for the Tar Heels, Surratt is the type of high-upside athlete whose best football is firmly in front of him. Surratt is a notable athlete for the position, possessing an outstanding blend of range and short-area quickness. He has shown the ability to pursue well to the perimeter, quickly gaining ground on opposing ball-carriers. There is a slipperiness to Surratt, squeezing through gaps to make a large portion of plays in the backfield. In the pass game, Surratt has loose hips to transition quickly in zone coverage. He has not been pressed into too much man coverage responsibilities, but has the necessary length and athleticism to match up accordingly. With substantial upside, Surratt has the makings of a playmaker, disrupting the football at a high volume. The instincts and physicality Surratt plays with near the line of scrimmage are surprising for a player of his limited experience. While he isn’t perfect, projecting how good Surratt can be down the line is exciting. The amount of missed tackles is the biggest concern. There is a rawness in run fits and he currently leaves way too many plays on the field. It is all a matter of time until his massive upside is unlocked. While fighting through the rawness early on, Surratt is sure to make some flash plays that to a degree will make teams forget. With his combination of length, athleticism and evolving game, Surratt is a high-upside off-ball linebacker who should hear his name called at some point on Day 2.
The Vikings still have major needs at guard and edge rusher, as well as secondary needs like wide receiver and defensive back. I didn't think they'd necessarily take a linebacker this early. But he was clearly the best player available on their board, and they have two more picks in the third coming up shortly.
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