Chicago Bears: Comparing Roquan Smith to 2018 LB class

Chicago Bears (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Chicago Bears (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

How does Roquan Smith compare to the other linebackers the Chicago Bears p passed on from the 2018 draft?

After two seasons, Roquan Smith is still coming into his own a little bit with the Chicago Bears. We have seen flashes, but have also noticed some setbacks. Still, it has been noted that at age 22, not many linebackers are as productive as he is, as young as he is.

What will follow Roquan Smith throughout his career is that the linebacker draft he was involved in will be pretty historic. We knew that coming out, as Smith went top ten and four linebackers in total went in round one.

However, the top seven linebackers drafted, Roquan Smith, Tremaine Edmunds, Leighton Vander Esch, Rashaan Evans, Darius Leonard, Fred Warner, and Jerome Baker are all starters and coming into their own as leaders on their team. All seven were drafted in the top 73 in that order. It is an impressive group looking back.

So, with a large group of names to compare to, the question becomes how Roquan Smith stacks up to this group? Baker was the last one drafted of these seven and has clearly been the seventh-best when doing this study. Therefore, he will not be included as much. Still, for where he is after two seasons, that is a strong seventh-best linebacker in a class.

Raw Stats

The raw stats show that Darius Leonard has been the most productive player. This is no surprise after his monster rookie season, but it is worth noting that he did not have the same excellent second year.

He also is in a scheme that centers around him as a middle linebacker, while Smith shares inside duties with Danny Trevathan. Still, as you can see below, he has put up numbers.

Tack Tack Tack Tack Fumb Def Rk Player AV Solo Ast QBHits TFL Sk FF Int 1 Darius Leonard 30 182 102 14 19 12.0 6 7 2 Tremaine Edmunds 23 146 90 11 15 3.5 2 3 3 Roquan Smith 16 155 67 7 13 7.0 0 2 4 Leighton Vander Esch 16 145 67 2 3 0.5 1 2 5 Fred Warner 16 174 68 7 10 3.0 4 1 6 Rashaan Evans 14 102 62 9 11 2.5 0 0

Provided by View Original Table
Generated 7/13/2020.

Below you can see the totals on a per-game basis. Rashaan Evans has dealt with some injuries, but even on a per-game basis, Roquan Smith has been more productive.

Tack Tack Fumb Def Rk Player Solo Ast Sk FF Int 1 Tremaine Edmunds 4.7 2.9 0.1 0.1 0.1 2 Rashaan Evans 3.3 2.0 0.1 0.0 0.0 3 Darius Leonard 6.5 3.6 0.4 0.2 0.3 4 Roquan Smith 5.5 2.4 0.3 0.0 0.1 5 Leighton Vander Esch 5.8 2.7 0.0 0.0 0.1 6 Fred Warner 5.4 2.1 0.1 0.1 0.0

Provided by View Original Table
Generated 7/13/2020.

Advanced Stats

Below is a chart of their advanced stats. We will look into them deeper in the coming paragraph. The stats, mostly provided by PFF, include run stop rate, missed tackles, snaps per targets, yard, and reception, yards per target and catch, and YAC per reception. We also will look at interceptions per target and pressures, which combine sacks, hurries, and hits. This gives us an equal view of the run, pass rush, and coverage.

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Run Stops

Overall, Fred Warner is the most productive against the run, but on a per snap basis, Leighton Vander Esch and Roquan Smith have been equally as strong against the run. Tremaine Edmunds has better raw stats but has a lower run stuff rate, and more missed tackles than Roquan Smith. This can be the drawback of his range and physical skills.

In fact, Roquan Smith is only behind Leonard for least missed tackles. This helps his run stop rate immensely. Leonard, Smith, and Evans are on a tier above the others with missed tackles.

Coverage Stats

Fred Warner is dominant in coverage. He is not targeted often with the lowest yards allowed per snaps and highest snaps per target. Warner also has the lowest yards per target allowed, so there is a reason teams do not target him.

Rashaan Evans shows well in yards after the catch and yards per catch, which likely correlates. Overall, there are no stats where Smith is last in coverage, but none where he is the best either. He has good overall numbers, but not as excellent as Warner has shown to date.


What is interesting to note is that despite being second in sacks, Smith is fifth in pressures. On one hand, you would like more pressure. On the other, when he comes, he gets home. That may be more on how often he is blitzed.


Overall, by scoring each statistic and trying to weight them fairly, we have come to overall rankings. They are a  bit subjective but did rely on as much data shown as possible.

1. Fred Warner

2. Darius Leonard

3. Roquan Smith

4. Tremaine Edmunds

5. Leighton Vander Esch

6. Rashaan Evans

To start, all six are very close. However, it almost split into three tiers.

Warner and Leonard have been the best from this class, which is funny because they are the only two who are not first-round picks. However, with Leonard, you have the stat sheet stuffer, and with Warner the advanced stats darling who excels in coverage. Warner has great stats too and was so dominant in coverage he got the nod.

Back in 2018, we debated Roquan Smith and Tremaine Edmunds and here we are again. However, again, it appears that while Edmunds has stuffed the stat sheet, Smith has been a bit more efficient. That is almost how we had projected the two out as well, with Edmunds making more plays due to his physical upside, but Smith being steady as a clean prospect.

Lastly, LVE and Evans are affected by injuries that hit Evans year one and LVE year two. Both have been great when healthy, but neither have playmaker statistics as Evans has no interceptions, while LVE has 0.5 sacks and two pressures.

As mentioned, this is one heck of a top-six, and nitpicking through them was fun to see how they stacked up. All six look to be on trajectories to be in the NFL for a long time.

It should be worth noting that while Smith and Edmunds are not clear cut at the top, they are both a year younger than every other linebacker in this class. There is more time for them, and that went into the Bears and Bills taking them higher.

Next. Comparing Anthony Miller to 2018 WR class. dark

Still, it does speak to the randomness of the draft that the two most valuable so far were the last two selected of these top six. While Ryan Pace should not view Roquan Smith as a miss, he should take this a lesson that trading down may not be bad. There is always room for more, and there are values in the middle rounds. Getting multiple swings can be better than taking big swings.