Roquan Smith, LB
School: Georgia | Conference: SEC
College Experience: Junior | Age: 20
Height / Weight: 6-1 / 236 lbs
Projected Draft Status: 1st Round
NFL Comparison: Haason Reddick
Roquan Smith is a former 4-star recruit from Montezuma, Georgia and the latest recipient of the Butkus Award which is given to college football’s top linebacker. Smith has made a name for himself while at Georgia because of his impressive athletic traits and ability to pursue sideline to sideline. This past season Smith stepped up his play to another level and the production followed suit. Smith has great speed for the position and solid instincts and toughness. His biggest issues are that he is a bit undersized for the position. He can get engulfed by blockers and is still learning out to disengage consistently from them. His read and react ability can be a tick slow and he’ll occasionally take a false step. Aside from that Smith is an ultra-competitive linebacker with great tackling technique and coverage ability. He also offers pass rush ability and put up an impressive 6.5 sacks this past season from the inside linebacker spot. Smith has played outside linebacker in his career before. What is going to be interesting is some team in the top 15 see him as a better fit at that position. Smith can gain size and learn technique to help him get off blocks at the next level I’m not sure if his processing speed can improve but he has the physical skills to be a day one starter at ILB or OLB.
- Excellent speed and athleticism for the position.
- Tough player who is not afraid to take on bigger opponents. He does his best to get off blocks and has made a number of impressive plays fueled by his motor toughness and effort.
- Very fluid for the position. Change of direction ability is not a problem and he can drop deep into coverage and stick with his assignment.
- Has solid tackle technique and wraps up well. Offers pass rush ability straight up the middle and has gotten to the QB a good amount as well as applied good pressure.
- Actual instincts and anticipation are solid and he generally diagnoses correctly as to where the play is going.
- A versatile player and should draw interest at ILB and OLB.
- Maybe a bit too reliant on his athletic skills? Sometimes takes preemptive guesses on plays then tries to compensate physically to correct himself. Can lead to him being a step late, picking the wrong lane and/or some missed tackles.
- Undersized for the inside LB position and struggles to get off blocks once the lineman reaches him. He must improve his vision and ability to get off these guys in the NFL he gave up some big plays in college because he wasn't able to disengage.
- Read and react ability can a bit late at times. Hesitation can sometimes lead to issues described in the first weakness bullet point. Not sure if he plays it safe sometimes or if it actually takes him a second to fire up.
Let’s see his work:
This is LB Roquan Smith teleporting. Insane closing speed pic.twitter.com/ng3RgPZHKJ— KP (@KP_Show) February 5, 2018
Roquan Smith is not your old-school box linebacker. Can his unorthodox game translate to the NFL?— Ted Nguyen (@FB_FilmAnalysis) February 23, 2018
- Thx to LB Ernie Sims, who had a similar game, for providing insight on his transition
- If I had to pick 1 pay to sum up RS, it'd be this 1
Read more: https://t.co/6hhEykVbCn pic.twitter.com/vo1VYL67bV
How He Would Fit On The Redskins
A lot of Redskins fans would love for the team to select Smith with their first-round pick in April. I wouldn't mind the selection at all. Now that Zack Brown is back under contract from the next few years a rookie like Smith doesn't face the same pressure as the first starter penciled in on the depth chart. Playing with an equally athletic linebacker like Brown should help Smith with his weaknesses and hone his strengths immensely. A Smith / Brown duo would make the Redskins inside linebacker position the most athletic in the league. As far as the position technicalities go I’m not sure who would be the MIKE or WILL between the two of them but with both on the field, the Redskins would have two players in the middle of the defense able to cover and pursue plays sideline to sideline. I imagine Smith will need some time for things to slow down at the next level so I wouldn't be shocked if Mason Foster is still in the mix at least in the beginning of the season. I really like Smiths toughness and willingness to fight through blocks as well as his ability to rush the passer. His presence should give the defense more versatility, especially in sub packages. He needs to add a little weight and work on his technique but he should be able to hit the ground running for the most part. If he improves his weaknesses he has Pro Bowl potential.