Chicago Bears: Underrated Roquan Smith finally recognized as top young linebacker

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

Second-team All-Pro middle linebacker for the Chicago Bears, Roquan Smith has a plethora of reasons to be angry and motivated going into next season. After a career season in which Smith anchored a Bears defense that the entire team rode into the playoffs, he was snubbed from the first-team all-pro roster in favor of household names and upcoming stars, all of whom Roquan Smith outshined in his third season.

Fortunately, Nick Shook at recognized his great season and selected the Chicago Bears linebacker to the All-Under-25 team — the first accolade bestowed upon Roquan Smith in an offseason filled with disrespect.

Using Pro-Football Reference and compiling the stats of the seven inside linebackers (Fred Warner, Bobby Wagner, Darius Leonard, Devin WhiteLavonte David, Demario Davis, and Roquan Smith) to make the first or second-team all-pro roster, here is where Smith ranks:

  • T-1st in Interceptions (2) with Fred Warner
  • TDs allowed – 1st (only one of the seven who did not allow a single TD)
  • Passer rating when targeted – 1st (59.8)
  • Hurries – 2nd
  • Sacks – 3rd
  • Tackles – 2nd
  • Missed Tackle percent – 3rd lowest

Additionally, if you look at the ratio of pressures to blitz attempts – Roquan Smith generates the highest number of pressures given the number of times he blitzed last season. For every three blitzes, he generated one pressure. The next highest among these seven linebackers were Devin White and Fred Warner who generated one pressure every five blitz attempts.

Three inside linebackers get selected to the first team all-pro roster every year and despite his season, Roquan Smith got selected to the second-team as a result of a “tie” with Lavonte David – an obvious and flagrant snub.

Even on other rankings of players under 25, I have yet to see Roquan respected as one of the best inside linebackers in the game. For example, PFF ranked him 16th on their list of top 25 players under 25 going into next season; they ranked Fred Warner first on this same list. Bleacher Report ranked Roquan 17th, Complex 18th, and CBS Sports 15th on their lists of the 25 best players under 25 going into 2021.

It is evident that Roquan Smith deserves to be held in the same regard as other prominent, young inside linebackers like Fred Warner and Devin White. Both of these players became household names when they were key parts of their team’s championship runs in 2019 and 2020, respectively. However, how come all these analysts fail to remember Roquan Smith’s importance to the 2018 Bears team, which Nagy himself said was primed for a Super Bowl run before Cody Parkey doinked his kick.

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Ultimately, the consistent dismissal of Roquan Smith has me very excited for the upcoming Chicago Bears season. Perhaps with the reinstallment of Vic Fangio’s scheme under new defensive coordinator Sean Desai, Smith will finally be able to put the rest of the league on notice and make them pay for one of the worst first-team all-pro snubs in recent memory.