Is Roquan Smith going to be the next great Chicago Bears linebacker?
Okay, draft night is probably too early to place such a hefty label on the No. 8 overall pick. Still, Smith will join a franchise with a rich history at the linebacker position.
From Dick Butkus to Mike Singletary to Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs more recently, the Bears have seemingly always featured other-wordly talent at linebacker. Smith's career is just beginning, but the comparisons are inevitable.
Laurence Holmes and Alex Brown discussed Smith's potential on NBC Sports Chicago Thursday.
"I had two NFL people with a lot of front office experience make this comp on Roquan, that he is Lance Briggs with 4.5 speed," Holmes said.
Brown took the conversation a step further, adding a player as talented as Briggs with Smith's speed is a Hall of Famer.
"Imagine that. We all know Lance Briggs without 4.5 speed and he was a monster, he said. "Lance Briggs with 4.5 speed is a Hall of Famer, in my opinion."
Ironically, Smith got the discussion going himself during a conference call after the draft on Thursday night.
"It’s a great franchise. A lot of rich tradition, especially on defense," Smith said. "From way back with Dick Butkus, Mike Singletary, Lance Briggs, Brian Urlacher, all of those types of guys. It’s insane and I’m excited.
Former NFL quarterback and current Bleacher Report analyst Chris Simms compared Smith to seven-time Pro Bowl linebacker Patrick Willis.
"He’s a little Patrick Willis-ish," Simms said. "This guy is a special guy, he really he is, he is one of the safest picks in the draft, there is no doubt about that.
“He doesn’t care, he’s going to knock your head off if you’re there to be had."
Roquan Smith was still giddy over being drafted by the Bears when he dialed into a teleconference with the media at Halas Hall Thursday night.
“I’m beyond excited, I can’t put it into words how excited I am about this opportunity to be a Chicago Bear,” Smith said. “It’s insane and I’m ready to give the city of Chicago everything I have in me.”
Smith already spoke like a future team leader — a role he ably filled as a junior during Georgia’s run to the College Football Playoff title game — and like a player who can make the rest of the Bears’ defense better.
“What they can expect from me when I arrive is a relentless guy on the field and off the field,” Smith said, “(and) going about my business the right way and going to do whatever it takes to put the Bears in the best possible situation every time I step on to the field.”
Smith said he enjoyed his pre-draft visit to Halas Hall (he even mentioned the ongoing renovations to the facility) and is looking forward to playing with Leonard Floyd again, his teammate at Georgia in 2015. And for a guy who’s spent his entire life in Georgia, he already knows plenty about the Bears’ historic success at his position.
“It’s a great franchise,” Smith said. “It has a lot of rich tradition especially on defense from way back with Dick Butkus and then you have Mike Singletary, Lance Briggs, Brian Urlacher, all those type guys, so it’s insane and I’m excited.”