Bears Rookie Roquan Smith Off To High-Flying Start

October 11, 2018 - 3:48 pm

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (670 The Score) -- Force equals mass times acceleration, Bears rookie linebacker Roquan Smith reminded. But there's plenty more than sheer physics to his early performance with the Bears defense.

The Bears knew that Smith boasted tremendous talent and a good head on his shoulders when they drafted him with the eighth overall pick this past April. Now, they've seen it in action, with Smith putting in the preparation to be successful.

"He's growing," fellow linebacker Danny Trevathan said of Smith. "Kind of had a late jump on things, but he's in his books, he's learning. It's no letdown. It's all about moving forward, getting better."

Trevathan sensed since the spring that he would click well with Smith, another player at his position who works with a determination and little ego. Their time together was interrupted as Smith missed all of training camp due to a contract impasse and the preseason portion while managing hamstring tightness.

Smith became a starter next to Trevathan by the second game of the regular season, proving to the coaches that despite the time missed, he could still make the kind of impact desired at inside linebacker. 

More so, the Bears found they could trust Smith because of the way he worked. He operates the assignments of Vic Fangio's defense with relative ease for a rookie. There was no hesitation in the 21-year-old Smith as he just flew to the football.

"It all boils down back to preparation," Smith said.

Smith was an All-American at Georgia last season, earning the Butkus Award as college football's top linebacker and leading the Bulldogs all the way to the national championship game. The Bears became enamored with his ability to operate sideline to sideline and react with precision to where the football is going.

But as the Bears worked through the preseason and the regular season loomed, it was worth wondering what Smith could contribute right away. While maintaining the hamstring tightness, Smith committed himself behind the scenes to the assignments that his role called for. He prepared himself to be the starter at inside linebacker and quickly won over the job.

Smith recorded a quarterback sack of Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers on the first snap of his NFL career. He has 18 tackles through four games and is showing greater comfort in each game.

"He just does his job," coach Matt Nagy said. "He puts his blinders on and he rolls. And that’s what I like. He just makes plays.”

Added Trevathan: "He's adding some sting to that defense.

There are no certainties in the NFL Draft, even among the top 10 picks, but the Bears certainly felt confident in Smith's transition to this next level, trusting the pedigree that he established in college. He played in a pro-style defense run by former Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker, faced high-level competition in the SEC and thrived again and again.

Smith has put in the work to gain that familiarity with this Bears defense and his role. It has translated to early success and signs of his promise.

So, what's next? He isn't looking too far ahead.

"It's just about getting more and more comfortable," he said. "Each and every day."

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.​​