Yesterday, rookie linebacker Roquan Smith finally signed his rookie contract, which was a 4-year/$18M deal. This finally ends his extended holdout, which has spanned over the course of the past few months, dating back to rookie minicamp. He is finally with his teammates and coaches, and after missing nearly the first month of camp, Smith has some catching up to do.
Smith, even after missing an extended period of camp, could still very well come in and start day one. One reason the Bears drafted Smith is because of his very high football IQ, and I think he can come in and learn this defense rather quickly. With the help of Danny Trevathan, and proven coordinator Vic Fangio, I think Smith will be just fine. Looking at the depth chart, I really like Nick Kwiatkoski, and hear he is having an excellent camp, but assuming Smith plays in preseason games 3 and 4, he should undoubtedly get the start, and keep Kwiatkoski as solid depth. After watching him play at Georgia, I feel that Smith would be best used as the weak inside linebacker on this defense. One of Smith’s few weaknesses I saw was when teams ran directly at him, he couldn’t easily get off of blocks. I see him at his best when he covers flats or comes from the weak side of the offense to make a play. Smith could prove to be a true leader of this defense after one year, as he was the leader of the Georgia defense that nearly won the national championship.
If you look at the Bears’ defense, it is really solid. The front three are good, particularly Akiem Hicks, who has always been underrated. You also have guys like Eddie Goldman and the unproven Jonathan Bullard, who I liked coming out of Florida. This is truly a prove it year for him. The secondary looks very good, as the Bears return Prince Amukamara and Kyle Fuller after a breakout season. They also return nickel corner Bryce Callahan, who I’ve always liked because he is a very good athlete. Adrian Amos has proven to be a top end option at his position after two very good seasons. Eddie Jackson also showed great flashes of potential last season. It seems the only piece missing of this defense is an elite pass rusher, as Floyd has been inconsistent and Lynch is unproven and injury prone. But I think the Bears have a really solid group here.
All in all, I think Smith will be fine, even though missing a bulk of camp may raise concerns. After seeing how he carried himself on one of the best programs in the country, he will do just fine if you ask me. I think if he plays to his ceiling, he could be the best Bears linebacker after just half a season or so. The Bears posted a top 10 defensive unit last season, and after keeping almost all the starters, and adding a guy like Smith, the sky seems like the limit for both Smith and the defense as a whole.
Photo: David J. Phillip / AP