7 Senior Bowl prospects the Lions should watch on defense

Marvin Wilson, Florida State Seminoles (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)
Marvin Wilson, Florida State Seminoles (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images) /
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Chazz Surratt, North Carolina Tar Heels
Chazz Surratt, North Carolina Tar Heels (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) /

Chazz Surratt, LB – North Carolina

The Quinntricia regime as I’m sure you are aware was particularly fond of heavy, slow linebackers that fit their scheme but very few others. Hence, it was worth rushing to pick one early in the second round a couple of years ago … and it’s been a rough watch in the linebacker room ever since Jarrad Davis was selected in the 2017 draft.

But rejoice! Hopefully, now we can return to scouting exciting rangy linebackers who hopefully offer something against the pass. And one of the most exciting players to watch this week is North Carolina quarterback – sorry, linebacker – Chazz Surratt. Wait, what?

Surratt was recruited to play quarterback for the Tar Heels and did just that in 2017 and 2018. He was a record-setting quarterback in high school. Going back even further he was a top-30 national chess player. So this isn’t the resume of a traditional NFL linebacker prospect.

In 2018, coming back from a four-game suspension Surratt threw three picks in just ten passes and tore ligaments in his hand trying to prevent a pick-six. That was his 2018 season right there.

But it’s an incredibly bold move to switch from quarterback to linebacker, and it’s a testament to Surratt that he is now considered a day two pick in the upcoming draft.

At 6-foot-2 and 228 pounds, and with 4.5 speed, he has the physique of a modern-day linebacker. And his athleticism really pops on film. Whilst clearly still learning the position, he’s at his best spying the quarterback where a lot of his highlights come. Once he decides to go, his burst is elite and he bears down on the quarterback and lightning speed.

Surratt also has flexibility and fluidity and although we didn’t see much of it, I’m intrigued to see how he matches up against running backs in coverage this week, especially if he remains below 230 pounds.

There is definite concern versus a heavy run game. His speed can get him out of trouble, but he’s going to struggle to stack up blockers at the second level and will need more time to acclimatize to early-down football at the NFL level.

But his football intelligence matched with his athleticism gives him a very exciting ceiling as a prospect and with the Lions likely unable to compete right away, he would have time to hone his craft before becoming a leader on the new-look defense.

I really like him as a weak-side linebacker early on, but there’s no reason he couldn’t transition to be the play-caller in the middle by year two or three.