Chicago Bears: Comparing Roquan Smith to Devin White

Chicago Bears (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
Chicago Bears (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images) /

How does Chicago Bears top ten pick Roquan Smith compare to Tampa Bay Buccaneers top-five pick Devin White?

While linebackers do not typically go in the top ten, there are rare exceptions. Roquan Smith, a sideline to sideline stud from Georgia was the eighth overall pick for the Chicago Bears in 2018.  A year later, Devin White took the SEC by storm at LSU and rivaled Smith’s great year. He went three picks higher at number five overall.

Chicago Bears fans have had a hard time deciding how impactful Smith has been. He has been up and down through three seasons. However, with Devin White, it is fair to say that the two should be on a similar level, or Smith should be farther along in his career.

As the two face off tonight, why not compare how they have played so far.

Career Stats Per Game

Roquan Smith has played 32 games compared to 17 for White. Still, when looking at the two on a per-game basis, you can start to see how they differ.

Tack Tack Fumb Fumb Def Rk Player From To Solo Ast Sk FF FR Int 1 Roquan Smith 2018 2020 5.6 2.4 0.2 0.0 0.0 0.1 2 Devin White 2019 2020 4.6 2.9 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.1

Provided by View Stathead Tool Used
Generated 10/8/2020.

Overall, Smith has been slightly more productive. Devin White has more QB hits, but Smith has more tackles for loss. However, it is worth noting that Smith White does have more turnovers forced in the fumble department.

Still, it is fair to say that White is not shining over Smith through 17 games.

Advanced Stats

So, how have the two compared this season? To get a better understanding, we will look to PFF. According to them, Smith has played 281 snaps this year to 256 for White. What is worth noting is that White has 21 more pass-rush snaps, while Smith has 29 more coverage snaps and 15 more run defense snaps than White.

Pass Rush

With that in mind, White has been more productive as a pass rusher. He has eight pressures, and one QB hit, and Smith has not gotten home yet. So far, White is one of the most productive pass-rushing linebackers in the NFL. It is worth noting that even going back to 2019, White has been more productive. White has a pass-rush productivity rating of 9.3 last year, and Smith had a 7 rating. White is used more as a pass rusher but is better on a snap-per-snap basis as well.

Run Defense

So far this season Smith has 27 tackles, to 24 for White. Beyond that, Smith has 16 run stops, which are plays that go for a negative success rate. Devin White has 13. On a snap-per-snap basis, White has an 11.2 run stop rate to a 9.8 rating of Smith.

However, when looking at a bigger sample last year, the raw stats may be on Smith’s side. Smith had 25 run stops last year, and a 9.2 run stop rating. White had 17 stops and a 6.3 rating. To be fair to White, Smith was in year two. Still, as a rookie, Smith had 24 run stops and a 9.3 rating.

Smith has been trusted more in run defense this year because he has a better track record to date.


Roquan Smith has been targeted 23 times and has allowed 15 receptions while Devin White allowed 19 catches on 25 targets. The two have been similar, but the yards allowed have not. White has 214 yards allowed, and 125 coming after the catch. Smith only has 95 allowed and 80 coming after the catch.

On a per catch basis, Smith allows 6.8 yards per reception to 11.3 for White. Smith is allowing 5.3 yards after the catch per reception while White is allowing 6.6. Neither has a pick, but White has allowed a touchdown as well.

To be fair to White, his rookie season coverage stats were better than any season Roquan Smith has had. However, the first four games of year two are worse than any season Roquan Smith has had.

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The Bucs use Devin White as a pass rusher more because he is more productive in that area. However, the same could be argued that the Bears use Roquan Smith as a side to side coverage linebacker more often because he has been better in that area. The pass rush is great, but the start to the year in coverage has been an issue for White.

We are a ways to go, and overall, the two have been similar in their early career production. Smith has more experience but also has been better at this point in their careers.