Roquan Smith Getting First Team Reps
Roquan Smith has already started taking snaps with the defense’s top unit.
It’s no surprise the Chicago Bears have big plans for Roquan Smith. When you spend your first round pick on a player, you expect big results. This coaching staff has made it very clear that the players who earn reps will get reps. Matt Nagy and his assistants have no plans to hand out starting jobs to anyone. The best players will play. Knowing that is the attitude with this staff, this news was good to see.
The fact that Smith is already getting reps with the first unit before the team even reaches mandatory minicamp shows that the kid knows what he’s doing. It’s a position that has two solid contributors in Danny Trevathan and Nick Kwiatkoski. If Smith is rotating in already, that shows he’s either on par or ahead of Kwiatkoski on performance.
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The assumption was always that Smith would be starting against the Green Bay Packers in week one, but it’s the speed he’s elevated himself to first team reps that is a positive sign. A normal arc would have a rookie with high expectations getting first team reps by about the second week of camp. At a position like inside linebacker that has several different elements and the need for a deeper understanding of the defense and what offenses are trying to do, it shows that Smith’s curve is truly moving at a rapid rate.
With Smith’s early emergence, it makes one wonder what the plan is for Kwiatkoski. The Bears could plan to keep him at ILB and know that with Trevathan’s injury history, having a strong sub option is important. The Bears also have a giant question mark at edge opposite Leonard Floyd. Kwiatkoski has shown the ability to get to the quarterback when he’s used in blitz packages so Vic Fangio could definitely try him out at edge and see how he performs.
Experts loved the selection of Smith and his early returns at OTAs are proving them right. Ryan Pace has shown the ability to select good to very good players in the draft. Roquan Smith might just be great, and he might show that sooner rather than later.