Immediate reactions to NFL draft picks can be foolhardy because there’s so little we don’t know. These are amateurs that have never played at the highest level, and who take time to develop. Until they do get a shot on the field and receive that time, how a pick is evaluated for any franchise moving can be touchy. There is no such as a “sure thing” in the draft. Only players that are more likely to pan out.
With that being said, the Bears’ selection of Roquan Smith at No. 8 overall in the 2018 NFL Draft fits the latter description. Smith was one of the most complete prospects in the entire class and should seamlessly find a role in the Bears’ defense. Does that mean it will absolutely happen? No. It just means he’s considered more ready than other players in the class. This is a sentiment that most of the football universe seems to agree upon in the aftermath of Chicago taking the inside linebacker. It’s a strange feeling, indeed.
Let’s take a trip around that universe to see how many believe Smith projects as a Bear.
The Bears came into the first round needing a leader and playmaker on defense. That’s what they get in Smith. He’s a fast and active linebacker who is just as comfortable flying around sideline-to-sideline as he is coming up in the box. He’s also capable of covering receivers. Basically, he can do just about everything. Smith is going to remind Bears fans of a better version of Lance Briggs. Three quarterbacks in the top seven made this possible for Chicago.
I didn’t think Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith would make it to No. 8; he had been trending up over the past few weeks, and I thought the Colts might take him at pick 6. He’s going to be the leader of the Bears’ defense, and he can be a great inside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. He’s going to run sideline to sideline, and he’s one of the best tacklers to come out of college in the past decade. I like that Chicago didn’t overthink this one.
8. Chicago Bears — Georgia LB Roquan Smith — A
It takes a certain type of prospect to be a first-round ‘Mike’ backer going to the club with the richest tradition in the NFL at that position. Smith more than fills the bill. Think about what Vic Fangio has done with lesser LB prospects. Now think about what he’ll do with the fast and fierce Smith.
Day 1 grade: A
The skinny: The Bears found much-needed speed and talent for their defense in Smith. He’s not a physical specimen in the Brian Urlacher mold, but he’s still a force to be reckoned with. The Georgia star was the best player on the board at the eighth pick.
Finally, I myself had to drink the Kool-Aid at Windy City Gridiron and couldn’t help but gush over what Smith offered. A more than worthy addition to Bears’ linebacker lore:
At the moment, nothing deters me from believing Smith becomes the face of the Bears’ defense and quickly. Chicago made the smart, efficient pick and should be applauded for it. Smith is a player you can build around and you’ll take that at No. 8 overall ten times out of ten.
The league as a whole certainly loves Smith’s fit at Halas Hall with the Bears. Now it’s up to him to make sure this doesn’t look very bad in hindsight.
It’s not too late to add your assessment to our scientific poll of the selection:
What grade do you give the Bears’ selection of Roquan Smith at No. 8 overall?
This poll is closed
Robert Zeglinski is the Bears beat writer for The Rock River Times, an editor for Windy City Gridiron and Inside The Pylon, and is a contributor to Pro Football Weekly and The Athletic Chicago. You can follow him on Twitter @RobertZeglinski.