252 tackles, 20.5 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, 3 FR, 3 FF
Today we look at one of the top linebacker prospects in this year’s draft. Roquan Smith was a 4-star recruit from Macon County HS (Montezuma, GA). He visited Georgia, UCLA, Michigan, Texas A&M, and Southern Cal. Smith ultimately picked the Bulldogs over the Bruins but not without some drama. He never signed a National Letter of Intent with UGA only grant-in-aid paperwork, thus not binding himself to the school only binding the school to him. This was seen as a possible revolutionary tactic for top high school recruits but three years later that doesn’t seem to be the case. During his freshman season, Smith played a reserve role before starting ten games as a sophomore. He led the team with 95 tackles. Smith was one of the most dominant players in college football this past season. He had 137 tackles on his way to winning the Butkus Award (CFB Top LB). Smith was named the MVP of the SEC Championship Game and was a consensus All-American. He even finished in the Top-10 of the Heisman ballot.
2017: Mississippi State, Kentucky, Auburn, Oklahoma (CFP), Alabama (NCG)
Roquan Smith plays with amazing instincts. He diagnoses plays quickly, seeing potential obstacles, and avoiding them. As quickly as he diagnoses, he may close on the ball carrier even faster. Smith takes tremendous angles to the ball carrier. Smith does an excellent job dropping into passing lanes and forcing the QB to take his business elsewhere. He finishes tackles. Pro Football Focus said he didn’t miss a tackle in run defense during the regular season. The only tackle I saw him miss in the five games I watched for this was on Baker Mayfield.
Roquan Smith is a three-down linebacker who never has to leave the field. He will be strongest as a weakside backer in a base defense and a dominant player in the nickel. Smith is a plug-and-play starter who has a chance to become an elite defender. A top-ten draft selection is not out of the question.
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DEEP FRIED DRAFT
At times, Smith can struggle to get off blocks. He offers some things as a pass rusher but it is not his strength. The combine weigh-in will be critical for Smith. If he checks in sub-6 feet it is not going to be good for him. I don’t personally think he will but I have heard this concern.