Since cutdown day, the Jets have added a few players to their practice squad. Now that such players can be elevated to the active roster, it’s worth familiarizing ourselves with them because they could see action with the Jets at any time. Today we’re going to take an in-depth look at linebacker Chazz Surratt.
The 25-year old Surratt is listed at 6’2” and 232 pounds. He was a third round pick out of North Carolina in 2021 but only played nine games in his rookie season and didn’t get any defensive reps. He was released in final cuts in preseason.
Surratt began his career as a quarterback and was a three star high school recruit who originally committed to Duke but then changed his mind and headed to North Carolina instead.
After a redshirt year, he became the starting quarterback and ended up starting seven games. He ultimately completed 58.5 percent of his passes for 1,342 yards with eight touchdowns and three interceptions. He also added 210 yards and five touchdowns as a rusher.
He began the 2018 season on a four-game suspension and then made just one appearance before suffering a season-ending injury. He passed for just 10 yards but rushed for 69 and a touchdown.
Having rehabbed his injury, Surratt took the decision to transfer to linebacker and immediately settled down into a starting role. He racked up 115 tackles, 15 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks and was named as an all-ACC first team selection.
In 2020, despite playing in two fewer games, he racked up 91 tackles and six sacks and was again an all-conference first-teamer. This time, he was also a Sporting News all-American.
Having opted out of his bowl game, Surratt was invited to the senior bowl and scouting combine, then had a good pro day workout. The Vikings drafted him in the third round and he was named as a backup linebacker in his rookie year.
However, he struggled to get on the field as he was limited to special teams action only and was a healthy scratch in almost half of the games. When Surratt was released in final cuts, nobody claimed him, so the Jets added him to their practice squad. He was not elevated to the active roster in either of the first two games.
Now let’s take a look at what Surratt brings to the table, divided into categories.
Surratt bulked up from 215 to 230 in between his sophomore and junior years and looks the part, although he lacks ideal length.
He had a great pro day workout as he ran a sub-4.6 in the 40-yard dash, posted excellent agility numbers and registered 25 bench press reps. While his vertical leap was poor and he opted not to do the broad jump, he shows some explosiveness on film.
As noted, Surratt was a quarterback until his redshirt junior season, although he had previously played linebacker and safety in high school.
He’s been an off-ball linebacker with the Vikings, occasionally coming up to the line or matching up in the slot. He primarily lines up between the tackles though.
Surratt was a productive run defender in college and has made some good plays against the run in preseason action at the NFL level.
Here’s a play where he fills the running lane and makes a nice hit in the hole to stuff the run.
As he’s relatively new to the position, Surratt often ended up in the wrong gap in college and had to rely on his raw athleticism to get to the ball, but as he’s been learning the role, he’s grasping the gap discipline and patience required to make plays.
In college, Surratt made some plays against the pass with two interceptions and five passes defensed over his two seasons on defense. He did allow over 10 yards per catch and got beaten for three touchdowns though.
He has been primarily employed in zone coverage where he can react and close well to make plays.
Here’s a play where his assignment required him to show blitz and then cover a lot of ground to get out to the receiver in the flat. He needs to work on his footwork and not delay his drop to ensure he can get over there on plays like this.
Surratt dramatically improved his tackle efficiency in his final year at North Carolina as he reduced his missed tackle count from over two per game to one per game. He also had two forced fumbles in his two seasons with the Tar Heels.
He closes well, seems to take good angles and packs a punch when he arrives. Having said that, he does allow ball carriers to fall forwards at times and did miss a couple of tackles in preseason action with the Vikings.
Surratt was an extremely productive blitzer in college, as he racked up 12.5 sacks in two seasons. He would typically blitz several times in each game and generated pressure at an outstanding rate - almost one for every three pass rush attempts.
He hasn’t blitzed much in preseason action but did record one pressure and was credited with a half sack on this play where he displayed impressive closing speed.
Surratt undertook a variety of special teams roles with the Vikings when he was active last year. He played on the kick coverage unit, blocked on kickoff returns, rushed kicks and covered punts on the protection unit.
He didn’t generate any statistics in regular season action, but did have four special teams tackles with the Tar Heels in 2019 and made this impressive play in preseason.
Surratt was called for a holding penalty on a kickoff return in preseason action which negated a 50-yard return.
Tar Heels coaches were confident that Surratt would be able to handle the physical demands of the linebacker position based on his running style as a quarterback, which saw him never shying from contact and always battling for every yard.
He levels some big hits and can take on and fight off blocks which he does while pursuing across the field on this play.
However, he can be overpowered by bigger linemen. He gets moved off his spot and can’t fight off the block in time on this play, which ultimately went for a long touchdown.
The other aspect of his position change that coaches had confidence in was his ability to read defenses having played the quarterback position. While he is still relatively new to the position, Surratt is learning to have the patience to allow plays to develop before committing himself to a lane and getting sealed off.
His awareness in coverage perhaps needs some work. He allows the tight end to sneak in behind him for an easy big play here.
As noted earlier, Surratt was suspended at the start of the 2018 season along with 12 teammates. This was for selling team-issued shoes and probably isn’t indicative of any character concerns. His on-field discipline has been solid with just two penalties in his two years on defense with the Tar Heels.
Surratt showed determination to change positions to improve his chances of making the NFL, but also displayed loyalty by deciding not to transfer and toughness by learning the position while still recovering from an injury.
Surratt had to have surgery on his elbow before his first season at North Carolina and suffered a season-ending wrist injury on a late hit in his only appearance in 2018.
At the NFL level, he hasn’t missed any regular season action due to injuries but did have a couple of injuries in his first training camp, including a neck injury that caused him to miss some time in preseason.
The main reason Surratt didn’t make the Vikings’ roster this year is because he isn’t a very good fit for the 3-4 defense they just introduced. The Jets will hope he’s a much better fit for their current scheme.
He’s a former teammate of current Jet Tyler Conklin and also of Dru Samia, who is on the team’s PUP list.
Adding Surratt and getting rid of undrafted free agent linebacker DQ Thomas continues a recent pattern for the Jets in terms of how they’ve filled out their practice squad. As they did with Diontae Spencer over Calvin Jackson and Adam Pankey over Chris Glaser, they’re letting a rookie go and bringing in someone who is already NFL ready with some real game experience.
Again, this signifies where the Jets feel they are in their rebuild, with viable short term cover being more of a priority than developing any projects, even with the increase in the size of the practice squads this year.
With that said, Surratt still has some untapped potential so there’s upside to this move even if his only role in the immediate future will be to get elevated for special teams duties should the need arise.