NFL Draft Prospect Breakdown: Roquan Smith

Other Breakdowns

Quenton Nelson – 93/100
Saquon Barkley
 – 92/100
Tremaine Edmunds – 89/100
Bradley Chubb – 89/100
Derwin James – 88/100
Minkah Fitzpatrick – 87/100
Harold Landry – 85/100
Rashaan Evans – 84/100
Will Hernandez – 84/100
Baker Mayfield – 84/100
Sam Darnold – 83/100
Josh Rosen – 83/100
Lamar Jackson – 82/100
Marcus Davenport – 82/100
Calvin Ridley – 81/100
Josh Allen – 77/100
Leighton Vander Esch – 77/100

Stats, Awards, and Accolades

roq

*All Stats via sports-reference.com*

Class: Junior
Height: 6’1″
Weight: 
236 lbs
Awards and Accolades: Consensus All-American (2017), Butkus Award (2017), SEC Defensive Player of the Year (2017), First-team All-SEC (2017), SEC Championship Game MVP (2017)

Over his three seasons at Georgia, Roquan Smith increased production every year, including an explosive junior year where he racked up over 130 tackles, earning himself the SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors. Those 137 tackles ranked first in the SEC and seventh in the country. His 14 tackles for loss finished third in the conference. During the combine, Smith ran a 4.51 40-yard dash,  which came in the 95th percentile among linebackers.

For this breakdown, I rewatched his tape from the SEC Championship Game against Auburn, where he won the SEC Championship Game MVP, as well as his tape from the National Championship Game against Alabama. In Bill Connely’s S&P+ offensive rankings for 2017, Georgia’s offense ranked 14th, and Alabama’s offense ranks 23rd, these were arguably the two biggest games of Smith’s career, so I wanted to see how he held up under pressure.

Pros

Instinctual defender
Speed to go sideline to sideline
Superb blitzer
Great finishing burst
Has high football IQ
Big hitter
Can time the snap
Versatility to fit in a 4-3 or 3-4
Underrated in pass coverage
Athletic

Cons

Undersized
Struggles to get off blocks
Strength is an issue
May not have the weight to play as a strong side linebacker in the NFL
Tendency to drag runners down rather than wrapping up

Grades

Speed – 10/10
Coverage – 9/10
Tackling – 9.5/10
Block-Shedding – 8/10
Pass Rush – 9/10

Scheme Fits

Middle Linebacker – 9/10
Weak-Side Linebacker – 9.5/10
Strong-Side Linebacker – 5.5/10

Overall Grade: 87/100

A reminder, this where I think he should go, not where he will go, these rankings also DO NOT take into account positional importance

90+ Superstar
85+ Elite Player (Top Ten)
80+ First Round Talent
77+ Second Round Talent
74+ Third Round Talent
66+ Third Day Talent (Rounds 4-7)

10/10 Rating – Best in the class or close to it
7.5/10 Rating – Average
5/10 Rating – Poor

Roquan Smith is one of the most talented players in this draft, and with a score of 87, he is likely to be in my top ten for this draft, with a shot at coming in my top five. His 4.51 speed is excellent for a linebacker, and when you combine his sideline to sideline speed with his tremendous instincts, you have the recipe for a great linebacker. He is criminally underrated as a pass rusher because of his size, and I feel that he is one of the best pass rushers in this linebacker class. His elite football IQ to find the right gap, and his excellent closing speed makes him dangerous as a blitzer. He can drop back in zone coverage and has played man-to-man on running backs and tight ends in the past.

The biggest knock on Roquan Smith has been his weight. To try and quell the concerns, Smith added about ten pounds throughout draft season and still kept his 40 time around 4.5. Despite the increase in weight, he is still too small to play at the sam linebacker position and will need to be avoid being picked up in pass protection. His size means he does get stuck on blocks occasionally. He will fit right in as a backside linebacker in a 4-3 or as the weak inside backer in a 3-4. His versatility to fit in either defense and his elite speed makes Roquan Smith one of the best prospects in this draft class, despite his height.

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