Ryan Pace doesn't have the best track record when it comes to his first-round picks as the Chicago Bears general manager.
Kevin White. Leonard Floyd. Mitch Trubisky. Roquan Smith.
We know for sure that White and Floyd were massive busts, even if White deserves an asterisk because of injuries. Trubisky isn't a bust yet, but if he loses the quarterback competition to Nick Foles, his failure will be the worst blemish on Pace's resume.
Then there's Smith, who's flashed the kind of Pro Bowl potential the Bears envisioned he'd bring to the second level of their defense when he was a highly-touted prospect out of Georgia in 2018. He had a bizarre season of ups and downs (both on and off the field) in 2019, but his ceiling is still extremely high and if defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano's comments on Thursday are any indication, Smith could be poised for a breakout season this year.
"He's probably in the best shape of his life," Pagano said. "He changed his body. He's really, really lean. Looks really good. He's moving around good. Again, his focus right now, and his mindset is off the charts."
It's the second half of Pagano's comments that matter most when it comes to Smith. His talent and sideline-to-sideline range are undeniable. But even the most physically gifted players wash out of the league if they don't have the 'want to' between the ears. If Smith is focused and has the state of mind required to play inside linebacker at an elite level, watch out.
"I just think we've seen Pro Bowl-caliber play, now it's just gotta be consistent," Pagano said of Smith. "Do it week-in and week-out and stay consistent. Coming into Year Three, he's going to have a phenomenal year."
Smith started 12 games in 2019 and finished the year with 101 tackles, two sacks and one interception.