Through two NFL seasons, who is the most comparable player to Chicago Bears linebacker Roquan Smith?
To many, Roquan Smith has not quite lived up to his top pick expectations for the Chicago Bears. However, that does take away from the fact that he has been very good over two NFL seasons. When wondering what else we could see from Roquan, it is worth looking at recent examples of players who have started their careers on a similar path.
Roquan Smith recorded 222 combined tackles with 155 being solo tackles. Beyond that, Smith has recorded 7.5 sacks, 13 tackles for loss and seven quarterback hits. Looking at linebackers to start their career that productive, and play behind the line of scrimmage that often narrows the list.
There are only 20 players to start their career with more than 200 combined, 140 solo, 5 sacks, and 10 tackles for loss. That is great company for Smith to be with.
However, looking beyond that, Smith is only 22 years old. He was drafted as a young 20 years old, with a lot of his ceiling being unrecognized. When looking at linebackers to put up those numbers at that young, the list gets even smaller. However, in it, we find our Roquan Smith comparison.
Tack Tack Tack Tack Fumb Fumb Def Def Rk Player From To AV G Solo Ast QBHits TFL Sk FF FR Int TD 1 Kwon Alexander 2015 2016 14 28 167 71 12 18 6.0 3 2 3 1 2 Roquan Smith 2018 2019 16 28 155 67 7 13 7.0 0 0 2 0
Smith profiles very similarly to Kwon Alexander. Above, you can see how their first two NFL seasons, both being age 21, and 22 fared. Alexander was coming off of an injury and fell in the draft, but was a tackling machine in the SEC similarly to Smith. They have had similar numbers in coverage, against the run, and against the pass to start their NFL careers.
This can be very exciting for Bears fans is that the best did not come for Alexander until later? His third NFL season was his most nationally recognized season as he came onto the scene and made the Pro Bowl. That would be a great sign of things to come for Smith.
Of course, in his fourth and fifth seasons, Alexander has suffered injuries that have cut his seasons short. Still, he is a very important piece to the 49ers defense, and despite missing eight regular-season games, he came back and helped them make a run in the playoffs. If the Bears can get similar play to a healthy Kwon Alexander from Roquan Smith in the next three seasons, they will be happy.
Beyond that, Alexander signed a 4-year, $54 million deal with the Niners in 2019. The Bears have Smith under contract for the next three seasons at a much cheaper cost. However, if the Bears do get that sort of play, that is the money they have to be looking to invest in Smith.