Name: Roquan Smith
Position: 4-3 weak-side linebacker/ 3-4 Will
40 Time: 4.51
Games Watched: All 2016 and 2017 tape.
A Georgia native, the 4-star linebacker received scholarship offers from all major college programmes and originally committed to UCLA before changing his mind and becoming a Bulldog. Smith featured in 12 games as a true freshman in 2015 and recorded 20 tackles. Smith started 10 of 13 games as a sophomore and racked up 95 tackles. As a junior in 2017, Smith was the most dominant linebacker in college football and was a unanimous All-American, SEC DPOY, SEC Championship Game MVP and won the prestigious Butkus Award as the top LB in college football.
Sideline-to-sideline speed and an asset rather than a liability in pass coverage. Smith was the leader on a national championship contending Bulldogs defense and always found himself in the correct position to make a play. An experienced inside linebacker, Smith relies on his instincts, quick feet and speed to put himself into position to make plays, overcoming physical limitations. Smith’s skill set can be used in either a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme.
In pass coverage, Smith is excellent at shutting down anything in the flats. He is quick to read, diagnose and react – exploding on potential receivers and laying a marker on opponents. The easiest way to be selected in the first round as a non-pass rushing linebacker is to be a three down player. Smith can play in both zone and man coverage. When in zone he turns into a heat seeking missile while in man he’s proven he can shadow tight ends and running backs.
Smith is a sure tackler and effective at wrapping up and bringing down the ball carrier. While he can get blocked up inside, Smith has the ideal skill set to play outside and follow in the mould of Pro Bowlers Lavonte David and Deion Jones. Smith is a big hitter and proved in January 2018 that in big games, he can make big plays – making a few solo goal line stands to keep opposing running backs out of the end zone. Smith was utilised as an effective green dog blitzer during his time in Athens.
The biggest knock on Smith is that he’s 6 foot 1 and played at 220lbs. He turned up at the combine weighing 236lbs and ran a 4.51 showing that an increase in weight will not compromise his athleticism. He still remains undersized, however, the success of shorter outside linebackers and the ever greater need for coverage linebackers help Smith’s draft stock. While the extra weight should help slightly against the run, Smith needs to improve his hand usage at working off blocks.
This lack of size becomes apparent in the run game. Oklahoma exploited Smith with north/ south runs where blockers fired directly at Smith. He is unable to anchor and work off blocks, instead relying on his elite reaction skills and excellent speed to beat blockers to the hole. The biggest knock on Smith is his inability to work off blocks in the run game.
An excellent run defender who is also an asset in pass coverage. Smith certainly has a much higher floor than fellow prospect Tremaine Edmunds. While Edmunds might have the higher ceiling, Smith can contribute from day one. He will be utilised similar to how the Bucs use Lavonte David and the Falcons use Deion Jones, but Smith is a better prospect than both coming out of college. He is a heat seeking missile and would excel playing uncovered as a 4-3 weakside linebacker or inside in a 3-4 with a large “plugger” next to him allowing him to flow to the football.
Grade: Top-10 pick (projected to go top-15)
Pro Comparison: Lavonte David
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Roquan Smith scouting report.