At the time of writing, the NY Jets linebacker corps is seemingly stripped of talent. Just a few years removed from a solid room that included Avery Williamson and C.J. Mosley, Mosley is now the only one who remains.
Having played a grand total of four quarters since signing with the team, Mosley hasn’t yet met the expectations of the team or fans. Aside from Mosley, the other remaining linebackers on the roster include the oft-injured Blake Cashman, as well as the newly-signed Jarrad Davis.
It’s safe to say that the Jets could stand to look for an upgrade at the linebacker position. Thankfully, the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft is deep in terms of defense.
With a defensive guru in Robert Saleh now heading the charge, the Jets might have the opportunity to take a few boom-or-bust prospects.
Enter North Carolina linebacker Chazz Surratt.
Surratt entered 2016 as a redshirt freshman for the Tar Heels, sitting out the season — although back then, he was listed on the roster as a quarterback. While he did play the next year, it wasn’t as promising as he had hoped.
In his final game as a quarterback, Surratt struggled to a tune of 4-for-10, 10 yards, and three interceptions in a 47-10 shellacking at the hands of Miami. His career as a quarterback, plagued by injury and poor results, made it clear that a change was needed if he wanted to play football.
Now on the other side of the ball, the UNC product has a decent chance of becoming a game-changer for any team that takes him.
Chazz Surratt’s strengths
Thanks to his history as a quarterback, Surratt uses his instincts on offense to aid in his defensive play. Take the game-sealing interception Surratt made against Duke in 2019.
During a goal-line stand with 14 seconds remaining in the game, Duke attempted a trick play jump pass from the running back.
In the play, Surratt was not fooled by the running back and stood in the way of the receiver. Granted, the play was odd in execution, as the running back tossed the ball to a crowded target.
However, Surratt’s instincts didn’t just break up the pass but allowed him to intercept the ball and win the game. In his two years as a linebacker, Surratt has earned first-team All-ACC honors each time.
He’s gifted in athleticism as well, using that to his advantage. Surratt plays on his instincts, leading him to make big hits when needed. His ability to reach top speed instantly is impressive, and he constantly plays with a high motor.
There were even times where Surratt was matched up against wide receivers, holding his own in man coverage against wide receivers like Amari Rodgers and Tee Higgins — which is a lot to ask out of a linebacker.
Chazz Surratt’s weaknesses
While playing aggressively with explosive results can be a good thing, it sometimes serves as a setback as well. Going for big hits can sometimes draw him out for error, allowing for a bigger play downfield.
Surratt is a great athlete with incredible potential at his new position, but it’s evident at times that he is still new to his defensive position. He could stand to grow with a veteran presence beside him and seemed to struggle a bit when he was cast as the “quarterback of the defense” role.
Thankfully, C.J. Mosley fits both molds as a mentor and leader, which could do wonders for Surratt’s development.
Surratt is 24, meaning he is a little older than some of the younger linebacker talents in this year’s draft. Though if he’s explosive from the get-go, then that shouldn’t be much of a problem.
He is nothing special in terms of size at 6-foot-2, 227 pounds. Surratt could likely stand to bulk up a bit, hopefully without losing anything in terms of speed or explosiveness.
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NY Jets prediction
With Chazz Surratt being such an athletic prospect, he can easily become a starting outside linebacker. He already fits the 4-3 defense that Robert Saleh has brought to the table.
The Jets are not starved at the linebacker position, with the addition of Jarrad Davis, so it makes sense that they wouldn’t use an early-round pick on one unless a big name like Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah from Notre Dame or even Penn State’s Micah Parsons ends up falling to pick 23.
With Surratt currently pegged as a Day 2 selection, the Jets and Joe Douglas could add the athletic linebacker to the roster in hopes of him becoming a regular starter. A future star, hopefully.
We have seen that Douglas is a fan of athletic prospects too, with the drafting of safety Ashtyn Davis in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
The Jets have the supporting cast and the mentors to transform Chazz Surratt from a mid-round gem into an All-Pro.