The Chicago Bears drafted Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft with the expectation he'd emerge as the next great player at a position overflowing with Bears in the Hall of Fame.
Smith doesn't look like any of the past great Bears linebackers, though. He's not a big, mean or imposing figure. At the NFL Combine, Smith measured 6-foot-1 and 236 pounds, size that in years past would qualify as a really (really) big safety.
The modern NFL game is changing, however, and smaller linebackers who can run like Smith are a prerequisite for success.
Defensive lineman Akiem Hicks finally got a chance to meet Smith this week and his initial reaction wasn't surprising.
"Definitely smaller than I thought he would be," Hicks told SiriusXM NFL Radio on Wednesday. "But he plays like he's 6-foot-5. Really explosive. He looks good out there, he's picking it up real quick."
Hicks was one of the defensive leaders last year and arguably the unit's most valuable player. He had a career-best 8 1/2 sacks and was considered one of the biggest 2017 pro bowl snubs.
Smith, whose Bears career got off to a rocky start after his team-issued iPad was stolen (and since returned) from his car, is starting to earn respect from his teammates because of his natural and freakish talent. His explosive ability is going to stand out in workouts like OTAs, and it obviously has for Hicks.