UGA Linebacker #3
Junior, 6’1” 225
-Sideline to sideline player
-Great closing speed on runners
-Big tackle radius
-Good hip mobility and lateral agility
-Big hitting power and follow through on tackles
-Sometimes get caught on blocks for too long
-Misreads play sometimes and opens hole
Roquan Smith was a four-star linebacker from Georgia. He was the second-best player at his position and 29th overall in ESPN 300. He held 27 offers and committed to play for UGA on signing day after decommiting from UCLA.
Smith has great range for a linebacker. He can make plays anywhere on the field, at any level. Part of this is because of his instincts. They allow him to read the plays fast and be a true sideline to sideline player. He has good hip mobility and lateral agility. This allows him to move gap to gap and make plays at or behind the line of scrimmage. His lateral quickness and vision help him stop runners even when they make a quick cut or false step to trick defenders. He rarely falls for this and is always making the adjustment when the runner is to make a play on the ball. Smith makes great use of pursuit angles when chasing down a runner.
He has a true nose for the ball, meaning he is always around it is making plays. Smith has a big tackle radius (radius away from body where he can make plays) and has a lot of power behind all his hits. This stops many players in their tracks or pushes them back to lose yards.
Smith is good in zone coverage. He can quickly change directions when someone comes in or out of his zone and is fast to pick a player up. Smith also has the closing speed to make a fast play on the ball. He didn’t play much man coverage from the tape I watched but I believe he can be good at it. Smith has the athleticism and instincts to make plays in the open field. He also can accelerate sideline to sideline to make plays when the ball is in the air. If Smith takes a false step or misstep, he has the speed and quickness to recover and close in on the receiver.
Sometimes he hits the wrong holes and opens the field for the ball carrier to get a few extra yards, but Smith is always right behind the ball carrier as he quickly recognizes his mistakes and correct them. He is not tricked easily on trick or reverse plays and is able to come up with the big stop more times than not.
One area I would to see him improve on is block shedding. He can get caught onto blocks for to long sometimes and struggles to get off them to make a play. Learning some pass rushing moves to get off blocks can help him when rushing the passer and when tying to get off a block and make a play on the ball.
Rating Roquan Smith
(all out of 10)
Coverage Ability: 9.6
Pass Rush Ability: 8.1
Play Speed/Strength: 9.7
Block Shedding: 8.2
Reading Plays: 9.5
My Grade: Early 1st
Projected round: Early 1st
Games Watched: vs Miss State (17), vs Auburn (17), vs Kentucky (17), vs Alabama (18)