Roquan Smith cemented his Georgia legacy over three years in Athens, and ESPN’s Todd McShay seems to think similar NFL success is right around the corner.
McShay says the floor for Smith is Oakland at No. 10 overall, but he might not even last that long on draft night.
“Roquan Smith is the guy for Oakland. He’s the guy they want,” McShay said on an NFL draft conference call Wednesday morning. “They think he’s going to a face-of-the-defense type player and I agree.
“In today’s nfl he’s a perfect fit … A lot of guys will make a tackle at the line of scrimmage that he’ll make two or three yards in the backfield.”
McShay commented on his ability in pass coverage, recalling tape from the Auburn game when he tracked a slot receiver in coverage. His pass rushing numbers (20 quarterback hurries and 6.5 sacks) are also a good indicator of future success.
McShay also compared Smith to two of the best linebackers in recent NFL history: Carolina’s Luke Kuechly and former Jets and Saints star Jonathan Vilma.
“I think he’s special,” he added. “(He could be) Luke Kuechly. That kind of impact right away and for a long time.”
Smith certainly had the production at Georgia to warrant that kind of praise. He made 137 tackles as a junior, including 14 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks. Beyond that, Smith was often the best player on the field in Georgia’s biggest games — most notably UGA’s win over Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl.
McShay and ESPN’s Mel Kiper also commented on Smith’s most likely landing spots. Both analysts agreed that he would probably be off the board by the time the Raiders pick at No. 10. The Indianapolis Colts at No. 6 and the Chicago Bears at No. 8 are both high-potential landing spots for the All-American.
“Roquan Smith is one of the most distinctive linebackers in this draft,” Kiper said on the conference call. “I think he’s one of the three or four best players in this class.”
The Colts, Bears and Raiders are all proud, successful NFL franchises, so it sounds like Smith will be in good hands after draft night no matter what.