Photo Credit: Stacy Revere / Getty Images Sport
Author: Jon Kuzma
Everyone knew just how good of a player Roquan Smith was at the University of Georgia. In college the high octane linebacker played sideline to sideline and made so many tackles. However there’s always some question marks about whether a rookie athlete’s game will translate over to the pro level? Fortunately for the Bears Smith is doing an exceptional job of making that jump and he’s been instrumental in this team’s 8-3 record. Smith already has 81 tackles and 4 sacks this season. The reason the former Bulldog is able to make those plays is because of his block shedding ability and also because he diagnoses runs so quickly. There were times on film when you would see Smith flow and then shoot a gap for a TFL. It’s his instincts which allows him to quickly process the events unfolding. You develop that from playing the game over the course of a lifetime. Some players are in the league for five or six years and they’re just starting to unlock that level of awareness. Therefore it says a lot about Smith because he’s able to breakdown the game mentally even as a first year defender. With Danny Trevathan at the other inside linebacker position Chicago has two very good run stoppers. Then there’s Khalil Mack and Leonard Floyd coming off the edges which is a dangerous group of playmakers. If offenses don’t keep their head on a swivel then these guys will flat out take your head off. They’re the main reason that the Windy City fan base has Super Bowl expectations on their mind. Roquan Smith definitely propelled this defense towards those goals because he’s been dominant since becoming a full time starter in week two. People tend to forget Smith’s best days are still ahead of him because he’s going to develop quite a bit from where he is now.
Here’s a scheme-based white flag directed at Mack by Detroit. They’d rather match up Theo Riddick on a blitzing Roquan Smith (a battle Roquan will win every single time) than use their guard to block Smith and leave Taylor Decker and a chipping TE alone on Mack. Result: sack. pic.twitter.com/HRZJ3RIOAB
— Jack Soble (@jacksobleTLS) November 25, 2018
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Shaping up: Roquan Smith is going to be one of the next great linebackers in the NFL.