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Analysis Bears

Roquan Smith Makes A lot of Sense for the Bears

After releasing Jerrell Freeman and letting Christian Jones leave in free agency, the Chicago Bears have some work to do at the linebacker position. As things sit today, Danny Trevathan and Nick Kwiatkoski would be the starters, which is fine considering defensive coordinator Vic Fangio’s style of defense only really uses two linebackers.

Still, if an injury were to occur the Bears would be in big trouble. Depth needs to be added to the LB position and we can expect general manager Ryan Pace to address that positional need in the draft. The recurring question of this year’s draft seems to be when will the Bears address what?

There is a lot of unknown heading into draft day. Many teams will either trade up or down, which makes things very difficult to predict. Recently, ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay had the Bears taking Georiga LB Roquan Smith at No. 8 overall. Of course, most people would want the Bears to take OL Quenton Nelson with that pick, but in McShay’s mock draft Nelson was picked by the Colts at No. 6 overall.

McShay is one of the few draft analysts I trust this time of year, so he what he predicts is fairly accurate. Smith has the talent and drive that may make him a top 10 pick. Here I will break down Smith’s game and decide if he’s worth the No. 8 pick in this year’s draft.

Name: Roquan Smith

Position: LB

School: Georgia

Size: 6′ 1,” 236LBS

Positives

Elite Athlete. Smith was a wide receiver in high school. Making the transition from WR to LB tells me how athletic this kid is. Smith, who has crazy speed, ran a 4.51 40-yard dash. That’s impressive for an LB at any level. His speed and quickness allow Smith to roam sideline-to-sideline. He fits the mold of a typical Ryan Pace draft pick–a freak athletically, who does more than just a couple things well on the football field.

Three-Down Player. Over the last few years, the Bears have had issues with their LBs playing all three downs. Players like Pernell McPhee and Willie Young struggled to play more than two downs at a time. It’s safe to say they were no Brian Urlacher or Lance Briggs. Smith, on the other hand, is a different story. He is your prototypical next-generation LB. Smith is a player who could come in and start right away, while also playing at a consistent rate.

Outstanding One-On-One Tackler. Smith makes plays in the open field. He is a phenomenal one-on-one tackler. His pursuit is relentless. On film, I saw him make tackle after tackle by himself. He is quick to identify what the opposing team’s offense is doing. This brings me to my next observation.

High Football IQ. Yet, another reason why Vic Fangio would love to have Smith on his defense. His football instincts and intelligence are through the roof. He understands many different football concepts and is fast to identify zone reads, jet sweeps, and screens. Smith is also a force in coverage. He matches up very well with athletic running backs who can make things happen in the passing game. He rarely is fooled on the field, and that is a tribute to his hard work and preparation off the field.

Negatives

A Bit Undersized. Most consider Smith undersized compared to other LBs in the NFL. He can be pushed around at times by offensive lineman and blocking tight ends. With that being said, his quickness and speed allow him to make up for his physical weaknesses.

Takes Questionable Routes to the Football. Smith gets in the habit of taking unconventional routes to the ball carrier. In college, he was able to make up for it because of his athleticism. That will be more difficult in the NFL, as the athletes are the best in the entire world. He gets himself into difficult situations–like trying to take on two O-linemen at the same time, instead of taking a smarter and quicker route.

Attacks too Quick. The best linebackers are the most patient. At times, Smith attacks to quickly, which leaves him in no man’s land. At the next level, Smith will need to wait a few more seconds to make his move. This will allow him to read the offense and make the best possible move. This is something that will take some time to get used to.

Conclusion

While McShay may like Smith at No. 8 overall, I do not. He is a solid LB and should have a successful NFL career. The problem is there should be better players available there. For example, Quenton Nelson, Bradley Chubb (longshots) or Trumaine Edmunds and Denzel Ward. In terms of potential, I believe Edmunds has the higher ceiling.

Now, if the Bears end up trading back then I could see Smith come into play. His skill-set and athleticism are exactly what the Bears are looking for in an LB though–this is what makes this draft so interesting. There are so many players like Smith that aren’t perfect but could make an impact from day one. Pace has his work cut out for him.

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Nick is a recent graduate of Northern Illinois University and passionate about everything Chicago sports (except the Cubs). He has run his own website, been featured on Bleacher Report, and tried to sell his soul on eBay (which he hasn’t gotten back). He hopes to one day see his beloved Bears win the Super Bowl and is still trying to figure out why Jay Cutler gets so much hate.

21 comments on “Roquan Smith Makes A lot of Sense for the Bears

  1. If the Bears take Smith at 8 I will pull my hair out. We want elite athletes, and Edmunds fits that. He’s a giant at 6’5″ 253 lbs., but as fast as Brian Urlacher, who was 6-4, 245, Ray Lewis was 6-1, 245 but slower.

  2. Attacks too quick not to quick

  3. Not enough value for this pick. ..Get big stud offensive lineman ,Keep QB healthy.

    • Too much talent at G to pick one at 8. Not enough talent at T to pick one at 8.

      • Nick Petrusevski

        You got that right

      • Not talent like Nelson, that kid is a rare talent, big mean grinder. If you have not watched his highlights from this past season, it will change your mind.

  4. I understand Tremaine Edmunds has the higher ceiling because of his size, but aside from that Smith is better. He’s quicker, better tackler, better in coverage, and he has something u cant teach: instincts. His high football IQ is unreal, and he’s a leader. Smith was the Butkus award winner for a reason. I like the pick.

    • Nick Petrusevski

      My only argument there would that Edmunds has a higher ceiling

      • Joshua Halls

        I worry though, cause it seems Edmunds problem is in making the correct reads. I guess Urlacher had same issue when first playing LB though.

  5. John Courtright

    Nick, if three (or four) QBs and Barkley are the first four (or five) picks in the draft, do the Bears trade up to #5 (or #6) to take Quenton Nelson or Bradley Chubb? And if so, which one? If both Trumaine Edmunds and Denzel Ward are there at #8, which do you like better?

    • Nick Petrusevski

      John, I’m always going to take Nelson over Chubb and Edmunds over Ward. I don’t value DBs very much in the first round. Also, there may be a chance that Nelson is there at 8

      • John Courtright

        Nick, I can never decide between Nelson or Chubb. The value of a dominant edge rusher has been convincingly demonstrated over and over again (see Lawrence Taylor, Bruce Smith, Reggie White, et al. – not saying Chubb is in their league, but …). The #8 (or earlier) pick seems high for an offensive lineman, no matter how great. I can’t help thinking about Joe Thomas’s distinguished career, which didn’t help his club make the playoffs, despite his individual greatness. On the other hand, Nelson-Whitehair-Long sounds like an awesome interior o-line group, and no one knows Nelson better than Harry Hiestand, so Pace will certainly have an informed decision. I agree with Edmonds over Ward. Only 19 years old, and with great NFL coaching, the sky’s the limit for him.

      • Nick Petrusevski

        Agreed

  6. Chris Tree

    Roquan Smith is a 4-3 will only. He constantly gets overpowered at the collegiate level, how is he going to play inside in the NFL?

    • Nick Petrusevski

      Chris, his speed will allow him to play at the next level. He needs to beef up similar to Leonard Floyd

  7. The Bears already have too many undersized ILB’s!! Smith will NOT be the number 8 pick!

    • Nick Petrusevski

      Hector, you have a point and that’s why I see them staying away from smith and going with a player like Lorenzo Carter in the 2nd round

  8. Nathaniel Wallace

    Line up Nelson against Chubb, and watch Chubb get his ass kicked. Nelson is the pick.

  9. Now that we’ve picked Smith, I will say that PFF said he had the best tackle/missed tackle ratio in the nation, and it wasn’t even close.

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