Monday, April 30, 2018

Roquan Smith - The Bulldog That Turned Into a Monster (of the Midway)

With the eighth overall selection of the NFL Draft, the Chicago Bears selected Roquan Smith, a linebacker from the Georgia Bulldogs. Leading up to the draft, I was very excited about the potential of Smith, and even though all Bears fans developed a massive crush on Quenton Nelson, things didn't fall that way, and I am incredibly happy with the selection the Bears were able to make. So what did the Bears get in Roquan? Let's take a look by checking out his games against Mississippi State and Auburn.

Although Roquan Smith is a "small" linebacker at 238 pounds, he does a good job of being crafty when taking on bigger offensive blockers.

Here, Mississippi State's center goes for a half chop block, half spear, but Smith does a good job of bouncing back off the block while staying on his feet where he is able to still make the tackle on the screen play.

Although Smith is an off-the-ball linebacker, he can blitz when necessary.

So, pretty obvious that his murder of the MSU quarterback is the big thing on this play, but there is more to it than that. He starts moving to his right on the ball fake, and the split second that the running back runs without the ball, he goes into a dead sprint mode where he unfortunately ends a life. RIP, Nick Fitzgerald.

Another example of him reading the field is this play in zone coverage on a third and seven.

Here he sets up the quarterback by giving the receiver room and already having his angle perfected before the pass is thrown to make the tackle before the first down marker. The hit and wrap up is also textbook.

He's also good when he is forced into man coverage.

He is able to follow the receiver while looking back towards the quarterback and times his jump well to easily swat the ball away.

This final play shows that he is not only good at diagnosing plays, but he also has an incredible ability to change directions.
He takes off towards the quarterback at the start of the play but recognizes the running back leaking out into the flat and is able to put a foot in the grass and change direction to shut down any outlet throw from the quarterback.

Before the draft, I wrote about how good Josey Jewell was at all aspects of being a linebacker. The only question with Jewell was his athleticism. Well, Roquan Smith is Josey Jewell if Jewell was a freak athlete. The only question mark is size, and at 238 pounds, I don't think it's a bit of a reach to call it an issue. Will he get blown up by offensive linemen on occasion? Of course, but that happens to all linebackers. Smith has All-Pro potential at middle linebacker, and the city of Chicago is going to freaking love him. It was a great start to the Bears draft and will hopefully kick off a new era in Chicago Bears football.

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