Chicago Bears: Is Roquan Smith deserving of All-Pro status?

Chicago Bears (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
Chicago Bears (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images) /

With the eighth pick in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft, the Chicago Bears selected Roquan Smith. Any prospect selected within the top 10 picks comes with big expectations. With a few seasons under his belt now, is Roquan Smith deserving of All-Pro status? Did they get their Monster of the Midway, after the loss of Hall of Famer Brian Urlacher?

Is Roquan Smith the Chicago Bears’ next Monster of the Midway?

While many Chicago Bears fans correlate Monsters of the Midway with defenses from the past, Roquan Smith is cementing himself as one of the best, young interior linebackers in Chicago Bears history. All while being only 24 years old!

Let that sink in. 24 years old, and Roquan Smith has accomplished the following:

  • Unanimous All-American (2017)
  • Butkus Award (2017)
  • SEC Defensive Player of the Year (2017)
  • First-Team All-SEC (2017)
  • SEC Champion (2017)
  • SEC Championship Game MVP (2017)
  • PFWA All-Rookie Team (2018)
  • Brian Piccolo Award (2019)
  • Second-Team All-Pro (2020)

Now, I know what you’re thinking, or maybe not thinking, and that’s this: Why hasn’t Smith earned a First-Team All-Pro yet?! And I agree.

The closest Smith has been was in 2020 when he earned the Second-Team All-Pro nod. Now, that’s no small achievement, but let’s take a look at who made it over him in 2020.

Linebackers: Fred Warner; Bobby Wagner; Darius Leonard

After looking at that list, my first reaction is to accept it because those guys are awesome. Smith for sure isn’t at Fred Warner’s or Darius Leonard’s level, right? Let’s see for ourselves.

Linebacker #1

Solo tackles: 93 (T-12th); Assisted tackles: 29 (15th); Interceptions: 0;
Forced fumbles: 3 (T-2nd); Player grade: 72.6

Linebacker #2

Solo tackles: 106 (5th); Assisted tackles: 25 (T-21st); Interceptions: 0;
Forced fumbles: 0, Player grade: 83.2

Linebacker #3

Solo tackles: 109 (3rd); Assisted tackles: 25 (T-21st); Interceptions: 2 (T-4th); Forced fumbles: 1 (T-17th), Player grade: 67.2

Linebacker #4

Solo tackles: 91 (14th); Assisted tackles: 25 (T-21st); Interceptions: 2 (T-4th); Forced fumbles: 1 (T-17th); Player grade: 88.6

After looking at those linebackers, which three do you think were most deserving of a spot?

Now that you’ve picked your three, who are these no-named linebackers?

Linebacker #1: Darius Leonard; Linebacker #2: Bobby Wagner; Linebacker #3: Roquan Smith; Linebacker #4: Fred Warner.

While I’m confident that I have at least some sort of bias towards Roquan Smith, I don’t see a major difference between him and the other linebackers on that list, barring Fred Warner’s incredible player grade. I think it’s safe to say that Fred Warner was the top, or close to the top, interior linebacker last year, but part of Smith’s (and the rest of the Chicago defense’s) struggles were team-based more than player-based.

Not to cut Roquan Smith slack, but when you’re on the field more often because of poor offensive play, teams are going to do damage. It’s just not realistic to have a defense be on the field as much as Chicago was last year, especially during their long losing streak, for their middle-of-the-field guy to not have his numbers diminished a little bit. The best part is that this was arguably his best season as a Chicago Bear and he still has plenty of room to improve those stats.

Roquan Smith’s biggest ding is his player grade. Scoring sub 70 on that is not something you want from your No. 1 middle linebacker, but not all of that is on Smith.

Part of his lack in numbers, which wasn’t much of a lack at all especially after the 2019 season, was due to the struggles on the other side of the ball. When your defense is on the field for 65%+ of the game, it’s really hard to continue to produce top-quality numbers.

However, I think this year can be the start of Chicago’s resurgence into the league.

Something I’ve been saying for a while now is that this team is a swagger-based team. When they’re hot and Club Dub is bumpin’, they’re a fun team to watch and they’re better according to the eye test. However, it seems like a fever dream when things start to head south earlier than anticipated.

Starting 5-1, the defense still had its flaws, but the flaws became more and more frequent as the loss column started to catch up with the wins column.

With energy flowing at a high rate in Halas Hall, this Chicago Bears team, and more specifically the defense, has a lot to prove. This offseason has been highly focused on the offense due to Justin Fields, and the plethora of offensive weapons grabbed in free agency and the draft.

Related Story. Chicago Bears: Roquan Smith among NFL’s top players under 25. light

However, with an offense that could potentially be on the field longer and allow for the defense to catch its breath every so often, 2021 could be the year that Roquan Smith earns First-Team All-Pro honors.