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.

Under Center Podcast: Ha Ha, Bears a great fit for Clinton-Dix

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USA TODAY

Under Center Podcast: Ha Ha, Bears a great fit for Clinton-Dix

It's been a almost a week since the Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix signing and it's still looking like a total win for the Bears. JJ Stankevitz, Cam Ellis and Paul Aspan on why the Bears appear to have gotten a bargain (1:00) , how Dix could be the perfect fit for this defense at this time, and the chemistry he'll have with former 'Bama teammate Eddie Jackson. Plus probably too much punter talk after the Bears bring back Pat O'Donnell (9:30), and some more edge rusher possibilities in the next wave of free agency (14:00). And of course an update on the Chicago Football Madness as 7-seed Alex Brown makes a desperate attempt to launch a comeback and avoid an upset against 10-seed Robbie Gould (22:10)

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

NBC's Chris Simms has Bears as #1 seed in NFC bracket

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USA Today

NBC's Chris Simms has Bears as #1 seed in NFC bracket

It's Bracket SZN. 

There are so many fun brackets to choose from right now. There's your standard NCAA bracket, our Chicago Football Madness bracket, and apparently NFC brackets? 

Chris Simms is doing them, at least, and the good news is that it's an excuse to write that someone thinks the Bears will be good! 

And just for good measure, here's Simms talking with Bears fan and fellow NBC analyst Roger Bennett: