July 30, 2021

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How Chazz Surratt’s Instincts Helped Switch &…

3 min read
How Chazz Surratt’s Instincts Helped Switch &...

Recently promoted Vikings Co-Director of Player Personnel Jamaal Stephenson described what Vikings scouts saw from Surratt’s transition and game.

“That just tells you what kind of athlete that Chazz is, because he really only had one spring, the spring before the ’19 season, at the linebacker spot,” Stephenson said. “And he really was just so productive, and it really just kind of came natural to him. And then he built upon that this season.

“He’s a guy that was recruited by Roy Williams at North Carolina as a basketball player, as well. That tells you what kind of athlete we’re dealing with,” said Stephenson, a fellow native of North Carolina. “And he’s just a phenomenal playmaker. I saw him play live this year [against Notre Dame] at North Carolina, and I believe the first series he made, like, three or four plays in a row. He’s a great blitzer; you just see the speed, sideline to sideline; his instincts, for a guy who’s only played linebacker for two years, are unbelievable.”

2021 Outlook: The 2020 Vikings linebackers group was decimated by injuries in 2020, but Minnesota has reloaded at the position this offseason.

Barr (missed 14 games) and Kendricks (missed five games) are back in action after having their seasons cut short, and Minnesota also brought in veteran Nick Vigil, who is entering his sixth pro season after playing for Cincinnati and the L.A. Chargers.

Beyond that trio, however, the group is young. Ryan Connelly and Cameron Smith are preparing for their third pro seasons. Smith missed all of 2020 because of surgery to fix a congenital heart defect. Troy Dye (fourth round, 2020) and Blake Lynch (undrafted a year ago) are entering their second season.

Surratt, as well as undrafted rookies Tuf Borland and Christian Elliss, soaked up information during Minnesota’s offseason program, which was held in-person after last year’s was virtual. Surratt’s time on the field, however, was limited by an undisclosed injury.

When U.S. Bank Training Camp opens at the end of the month, he’ll look to be ready to show his versatility as well as that he’s as quick of a study in the NFL as he was in Chapel Hill.

“I think I’m a versatile player, so I think I can line up at any of the three linebacker spots,” Surratt said after his selection. “I think they’re just looking for me to come in, work hard and do what I can on the field, whether it’s special teams or defense. … I’m just really taking the whole thing in. Whatever the coaches ask me to do, that’s what I’m going to do and do it the best I can.”

Kendricks, who played linebacker, quarterback, running back, kicker and punter in high school before rooming and teaming with Barr at UCLA, was asked during Minnesota’s offseason program about Surratt’s position change.

“Yeah, I feel like oftentimes that shows the kind of athlete the player is and just their football IQ and their football comfortability, I guess you could say in a way,” Kendricks said. “I’m not saying I played quarterback in college, but I also played quarterback in high school, so you’d think it’d be a tougher transition, but you actually are very in-tune with the game.”

Film Breakdown: Former Vikings linebacker and coach Pete Bercich, now a Vikings Radio Network analyst, looked at some of Surratt’s tape from North Carolina and said the 6-foot-2, 230-pounder “has as much upside as anyone the Vikings drafted this year.”