It’s no small thing to be a linebacker on the Chicago Bears, a franchise that’s littered with some of the best to play the position in the history of pro football. The pressure to continue that lineage currently rests on the shoulders of Roquan Smith.
From Dick Butkus to Brian Urlacher, Smith has some big shoes to fill in Chicago. But so far, he has the support of the legends that came before him.
“I thought Roquan was a very humble guy,” Butkus told ESPN’s Jeff Dickerson. “I talked to a lot of Georgia people about Roquan, and they all said he’s a good kid and a hell of a player.
“Just don’t give Roquan too much pressure … Just let him play.”
Smith, of course, won the award that Butkus is named after last season. He was named the top linebacker in the country, and eventually met the namesake for the honor.
“I have a ton of respect for the guys that came before me and played the position,” Smith told reporters last week at rookie camp. “There are many legends here, so it’s great to try to come in and do something special, but I’ll just be the best player I can be.”
Urlacher, who starred for the Bears from 2000-12, also seems impressed with what Smith will bring to the table in Chicago.
“Roquan seems like the kind of guy that can go out there and light it up on defense. He just needs to focus on going out there and meeting his teammates,” Urlacher said on ESPN radio last week. “You look at what he did in college. His numbers were great at the combine. All of his tackle numbers were good. He made big plays. He’s a smart guy. I think it was a smart draft pick by the Bears. It surprised me because I didn’t think they were going to take a linebacker but when a player of that caliber is sitting there, you have to take him. I think they did the right thing.”
Time will tell how well Smith ends up working out for the Bears, but the early indications are as good as could be expected.