The Redskins hold the No. 13 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.
With draft day roughly a month away, our countdown of potential picks continues with Georgia lineback Roquan Smith
Redskins 2018 NFL Draft Countdown
Roquan Smith is fast and mean. He changes direction quickly and has a knack for finding the football. These are traits you want in a linebacker who will go high in the draft.
Smith performed on the big stage, playing for a Georgia team that came very close to winning it all. The football instincts he developed in the SEC will serve him well at the next level.
— Height: 6-1
— Weight: 236
— 40-yard dash: 4.51
Projected draft round: 1st
RELATED: 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT 7.0
How he fits the Redskins:
There was a lot of talk about Smith to the Redskins while inside linebackers Mason Foster and Zach Brown were unsigned. Now both are in the fold. So why would the Redskins need another ILB?
For one thing, both Foster and Brown missed time with injuries last year. Having a first-round pick come off of the bench if either player is nicked up is an excellent situation to be in. And Smith may be the best available player on the board and if players at other need positions are on the board, he may be the smart pick.
And both Foster and Brown will turn 30 next year. That’s not necessarily the end of the line on today’s NFL but it’s the point where you have to start looking towards the future. Having a young player like Smith in team control for five years would be excellent succession planning.
Are there potential issues? Sure, and we’ll look at them below.
Film review: vs. Auburn, vs. Oklahoma
—Smith usually lined up four yards off of the line of scrimmage, about where a 3-4 inside LB usually lines up in the NFL.
—Teams did not have much luck running jet sweeps with Smith on the field. He’s just too fast getting to the edge
—Smith can get to the quarterback. Against Auburn, he was blitzing from the outside, was blocked, kept fighting, and he eventually got the sack when the QB scrambled up the middle. In the playoff game against the Sooners, he was through the A gap in a flash and forced Baker Mayfield to scramble into a sack.
—He also can affect the passes of other players. He reacted to an end around pass play quickly, forcing the player to throw incomplete.
—Against the Sooners, he did a lot of spying on Mayfield. It was hard to tell if he was supposed to be staying with Mayfield on the play just before the end of the half when the QB caught a touchdown pass on a trick play (similar to the Eagles’ play in the Super Bowl, maybe it could be dubbed the “Sooner Special”).
—Smith takes some false steps and sometimes reacts too quickly. He is fast enough to make up for it most of the time, but he could benefit from some extended time in the film room. He won’t be able to get away with that as
—He also could use time in an NFL weight room. Shedding offensive linemen is a problem for him, as it is for many inside linebackers. Smith isn’t always the best player to have in on runs up the middle.
—It looked like the Bulldogs were in zone coverage frequently and in the games, I watched he wasn’t challenged often so his pass coverage was hard to judge. Against Oklahoma he did a good job in man coverage on a back, taking away Mayfield’s safety valve to set up a sack.
—Also against the Sooners, he made a key play in overtime, flying in on a second and 10 swing pass to get a tackle for a loss.
The Redskins do have a lot of needs on both sides of the ball and taking a player at a position where they have two good players under contract for two years may be considered a luxury that they can’t afford.
Smith is somewhat undersized, and he might be better suited to playing the Will linebacker spot in a 4-3 defense. While he was able to thrive on sheer speed in college, he will have to refine his game to succeed in the NFL.
We will see how this plays out. No team drafts based strictly on need and none go purely with the best available player. There is a good chance that Smith will be the best player on the board when the Redskins pick at No. 13. Will they see enough need at the position to justify the pick? Or will they reach a bit and get another player they can plug in as an impact starter right away?
Redskins 2018 NFL Draft Countdown
- Washington NT Vita Vea
- Alabama DL Da’Ron Payne
- Oklahoma State WR James Washington
- LSU RB Derrius Guice
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