Ranking Chicago Bears LB Roquan Smith in his draft class
Roquan Smith happened to be the first linebacker drafted during a year that would change the linebacker position forever. Smith was the top name for the Chicago Bears, but Tremaine Edmunds was a highly sought after prospect, as was Leighton Vander Esch.
Still, the draft also produced Rashaan Evans, Darius Leonard, Fred Warner, and Jerome Baker. It Is one of the better linebacker drafts of all time, let alone recent memory. With Smith being the headliner it is always interesting to see how he compares to the big names from the same class as him.
Below you can see how the top six linebackers compare. This excludes Vander Esch, who has only played in 52 games.
Approximate Value shows Smith as fourth, although most advanced metrics would put him above that. He has more tackles, hits, far more tackles for loss, and sacks compared to Edmunds. Edmunds has one more forced fumble, Smith has one more pick.
The debate between Smith, Leonard, and Warner is fair, but most stats show that Smith is better than Edmunds.
Below you can see how they compare in advanced stats, thanks to PFF.
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Darius Leonard is the best at rushing the passer, although it is mainly because he does not do it often. Smith and Warner are right in line as the next two, though.
Roquan Smith is the best at run stop rate, with Vander Esch and Leonard joining him. Leonard is also the best in missed tackles, although Smith is right with him again.
The big difference is yards per target. Smith is much better than Leonard, and it is down to just him and Warner as the top two here. The same can be shown in just adjusted yards per attempt. In both areas, we see that Edmunds is the worst in coverage of all of the linebackers.
In YAC, Smith is not great, but still better than Edmunds. When you consider that Smith is one of the most efficient against the run and pass, it is hard not to put him right next to Fred Warner and Darius Leonard as the three best up-and-coming linebackers in the NFL.