Chicago Bears: Why Roquan Smith will breakout in 2019

Chicago Bears (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Chicago Bears (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

After leading the Chicago Bears in tackles in 2018, Roquan Smith now appears to be ready to become the NFL’s best inside linebacker.

There’s no denying the fact that the Chicago Bears got one of the top talents when Roquan Smith fell into the Bears laps at eighth overall in the 2018 NFL Draft. Despite missing training camp in 2018 due to contract disputes, Smith became a full-time starter by week two and became a defensive leader for the Bears very quickly.

In 2018, one of the biggest aspects of Smith’s game was his speed. As the season went on, it became more and more clear that Smith was exactly what the Bears defense was missing. Now, as Smith enters his second season, it’s very clear that he’s ready to take a big step forward.

Smith’s rookie year was full of excitement and promise. He totaled 121 tackles, eight tackles for loss, and five sacks. Even though he played alongside Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks, Danny Trevathan, Eddie Goldman, and Leonard Floyd, Smith still made his impact felt each game.

With the Bears officially back at Halas Hall for OTAs, new Bears’ defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano praised Smith saying: “Again, you talk about football character, football IQ, we know the measurables, he’s one of the brightest, smartest guys I’ve been around for just a second-year player.”

Considering Pagano only had good things to say about Smith, it’s clear that Smith is primed to be one of the top defensive players in the NFL in 2019. Pagano would also go on to say: “Out on the football field, he does a lot of things that you can’t coach.”

When the Bears selected Smith a year ago, they knew exactly what they were getting. A tough, smart, instinctive player who was going to make an impact right away. Now, as Smith gets ready to be a student of Pagano’s, Pagano knows and understands that Smith is a unique talent.

While in Baltimore, Pagano was given the opportunity to work with Hall of Fame Linebacker Ray Lewis. The reality is that wherever he’s gone, Pagano has always demanded the best out of his players and set the highest of expectations. It was the same story in Baltimore with Lewis and it will be the same thing with Smith here in Chicago.

Smith has all the abilities needed to be a modern linebacker in the NFL. As mentioned above, his speed was a major reason he had such a successful 2018 season but he’s got the strength, character, and football IQ to be a game-changer.

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Smith will be one player who will end up keeping the Bears defense afloat as the team continues to transition from Vic Fangio to Pagano. It may seem like he’s got a mountain to climb to join the ranks of players like Luke Kuechly and Bobby Wagner, but while the 2019 regular season is going on, Smith is going to end up breaking out and be the one player on defense that offensive coordinators will be afraid to face each week.