There is some familiarity with new Chicago Bears first round-pick Roquan Smith.
Smith is the second Georgia linebacker prospect taken by general manager Ryan Pace with the first round in the last three years. Both players are from the SEC, which is regarded as the best college football conference for producing premiere NFL talent. In his three seasons as general manager, Pace has used several of his draft selections on players from the conference, and many have already paid dividends for Bears on defense.
In the 2016 draft, the team used its first-round and third-round picks on players from the SEC. They traded up to select outside linebacker Leonard Floyd from Georgia who was seen as high potential pass rushing talent. Although injured during his first two seasons, Floyd has shown the ability to dominate on the field as he has accumulated 11.5 sacks in just 22 games. In the third round, the team chose defensive end Jonathan Bullard from Florida. Bullard hasn’t been as dominant as Floyd, but has been a quality reserve for the Bears as he has been able to record a sack in each of his first two seasons.
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) April 27, 2018
Last year, Pace was questioned heavily for selecting Alabama safety Eddie Jackson with the team’s fourth-round pick. The selection was questioned as Jackson had a long history of injuries while at Alabama and was at the time coming off a severe leg injury. Jackson proved to be a steal for the Bears as he provided the team with superb play at the safety this past season recording two interceptions. His best game came against the Carolina Panther where he recorded two defensive touchdowns on a fumble return and interception return.
On Thursday, Pace chose Smith, who won the 2017 SEC Defensive Player of the Year award and was the leader for a Georgia defense that played in the National Championship against Alabama. He was first defensive player from the SEC taken in tonight’s draft as currently three players total have been taken from the conference with numerous more projected to go in the first round.
Pace’s strongest suit is his ability to scout college talent, a consistent trend over the last decade in the NFL has been the quality of talent produced by the SEC. The 2018 Bears have could have four starters on defensive drafted by Pace from the conference. the team’s choice in choosing player from the best conference shows that they are doing the best scouting to diagnose who will be the best players for their team, and so far it has been working.