Because most rookies don’t get enough credit, we’ll be highlighting some top performances by the NFL’s next generation.
Defense: Week 2
Roquan Smith, LB, Chicago Bears
Roquan Smith, the Butkus award winner out of Georgia, was the first linebacker taken in this year’s draft. Smith was selected at eighth overall by the Bears, who were looking to bolster their defense, which was a top ten unit overall, but struggled a bit against the run, allowing just over 108 yards per game in 2017. The rookie linebacker has made an immediate impact, helping the Bears to a top five ranking in rush defense thus far this season. Smith is a quick and athletic sideline to sideline backer with a nose for the ball and great football IQ. He recorded an opportunistic sack on his first play in week one, but he was just getting started. In week two, Smith led the Bears defense with seven solo tackles and a pass defended in a 24-17 win over the Seahawks that was nowhere near as close as the score indicated. Roquan showed great closing speed on several of his plays this Sunday and proved he’s sure footed when solo tackling in the open field. Paired with veteran Danny Trevathan, Smith will be part of one of the NFL’s elite linebacking corps for the next few years. Smith missed most of camp due to a contract holdout but will quickly develop into an every down LB whose primary responsibility will be to snuff out running plays and contain the edge, but he’s certainly capable of dropping into coverage, or chasing after opposing QBs, depending on the scheme.
Check out previous rookie reports here.
Image Source: USA Today