The Chicago Bears needed linebacker help and they got it in the form of a falling Roquan Smith with the eighth overall pick on Thursday evening.
A Georgia standout, Smith totaled 137 tackles for a loss, with 6.5 for a loss his senior season. The versatile ‘backer also tallied 6.5 sacks in a breakout season and figures to be able to play inside or outside in Chicago. Great lateral range to get from sideline to sideline, along with the second-fastest 40-yard dash time among linebackers at the NFL Scouting Combine, makes Smith an intriguing defensive addition for Chicago.
Smith has good awareness in coverage and brings three-down ability to the Bears. At just 236 pounds, Smith is a bit undersized but does not shy away from contact. Defensive Coordinator Vic Fangio relished having Patrick Willis in the middle of his defense in San Francisco and Smith figures to bring a powerful punch for the Chicago defense. With the departure of Christian Jones, in addition to injury issues for Danny Travathan and inconsistent play from Nick Kwiatkoski, Smith should be able to slot in wherever Fangio sees fit in year one.
“Roquan Smith is the truth, man. The kid is a player in every sense of the word. He should be a Pro Bowler very quickly. He is lightning off the spot, meaning his eyes are where they need to be ... He can run, and when he gets there, he gets there with bad intentions. He can cover, he can play (against) running backs, he can match up against tight ends ... There’s nothing bad for me to say about Roquan.
Smith was projected to go as high as number six overall to Indianapolis, but the Bears pounced on him when available at number eight. It seems fair to say the NFC North got off to a good start on draft night.