Bears

Akiem Hicks says Roquan Smith plays like he's 6-foot-5

Akiem Hicks says Roquan Smith plays like he's 6-foot-5

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."

MORE BEARS: Roquan Smith is taking the right approach to his place with the Bears

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.

Predicting the value of Roquan Smith's rookie contract with Bears

Predicting the value of Roquan Smith's rookie contract with Bears

Chicago Bears first-round pick Roquan Smith remains unsigned, a situation that prior to the rookie wage scale would've been cause for concern. With contracts now based on slotting, or where a first-round pick is selected, there's little reason or room for agents to haggle over terms. A holdout isn't expected.

There have been some exceptions to this general principle, however. Joey Bosa, who was selected with the third pick by the Chargers in 2016, held out until August 29 over offset language and his signing bonus. So, while a holdout for Smith is unlikely, it's not impossible.

Assuming he agrees to a contract on time, here's what the terms of his deal should look like, according to CBS Sports:

2018 Cap Number: $3,349,485
Signing Bonus: $11,517,940
Four-year value: $18,477,168

If the numbers are correct, Smith will have the 17th-highest cap hit for the Bears in 2018, according to Spotrac. By comparison, Danny Trevathan has a $7.15 million cap hit this season.

Drafting well is critical for long-term success. If a general manager misses on first-round picks, the cap consequences mount over time. Consider Kevin White, the seventh-overall pick in 2015. He has zero touchdowns in his pro career but has a $5.27 million cap hit this year. Leonard Floyd, the team's first-rounder in 2016, has a $4.30 million cap hit and Mitch Trubisky, last year's second pick overall, is $6.59 million. Pace's four first-round picks, when counting Smith's expected deal, are four of the top-17 paid players on the payroll even though none of them have the production to back it up.

Smith, however, is as close to a bust-free prospect as the Bears have drafted in Pace's tenure. He was considered one of the best pure football players in the entire 2018 draft class and will start immediately alongside Trevathan as a rookie, assuming he's under contract in time to contribute in Week 1.

Which Bears have the highest player rating in Madden 19?

Which Bears have the highest player rating in Madden 19?

The time has come to start counting down to the release of Madden 19. The most popular football video game franchise of all-time is set to release in early August and as is a tradition with the weeks leading up to the game appearing on store shelves, leaks about features and player ratings have started.

Here are the highest rated Bears players in this year's edition:

Adrian Amos leads the way with an 88 rating, followed by Akiem Hicks (85) and Allen Robinson (85). 

Chicago's offense received a 75 overall rating, which should result in a significant challenge for Bears fans trying to score virtual points later this summer. The defense, however, will be stout, coming in with an overall rating of 81. Amos and Hicks have a lot to do with that.

Ratings are subject to change due to injury. Madden 19 is scheduled for release on August 10.