LB Roquan Smith, Georgia

6’1” – 236 lbs. – 4.51

Profile:

  • Rotated into the defense as a reserve during his true freshman season, then started ten of thirteen games as a sophomore in a productive campaign before enjoying an outstanding junior campaign (137-14.0-6.5) and declaring early for the draft. Played in the middle for the Bulldogs but could project to the weakside as well.

Positives:

  • Team captain who comes with two years of high-end SEC production. Fast and instinctive player who is always around the ball; patient when making his reads and doesn’t take himself out of many snaps. Capable of playing sideline to sideline. Angles in pursuit are very efficient. Does a good job of avoiding blocks and weaving through traffic to get to the ball. Makes a lot of stops in the backfield or at the line of scrimmage. Generates a lot of pop on contact and demonstrates hit-and-wrap technique. A true three-down player. Has experience making drops into zone coverage and is fast enough to carry opposing running backs out of the backfield on passing routes. Sniffs out crossing routes over the middle of the field and can plant and drive on a spot to stick opponents. Can shade over bunches, diagnose screens, and get to the sidelines to make tackles. Excellent closing burst as a pass-rusher; deadly when he finds a lane as a quarterback spy.

Negatives:

  • Size is on the low end, which may necessitate a transition to the weakside or limit the range of schemes that he’s considered a fit for. Doesn’t have much of an anchor when it comes to taking on blocks in the run game and might need to be protected by blockers up front so he can roam to the ball; length is just average, so he relies on his athleticism to make plays. Probably too small to match up against opposing tight ends in man coverage. Reportedly has some medical flags which may impact his draft stock.

Summary:

  • One of the best players in this year’s draft class; doesn’t have the size of some of the other top linebacker prospects, but offers an outstanding combination of instincts, range, and explosiveness which should make him a defensive cornerstone on a team which protects him with big bodies on the defensive line and allows him to run to the ball. Should be a top-ten pick if he checks out medically.
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