Packers 2018 draft prospect profile: Georgia LB Roquan Smith

ATHENS, GA - NOVEMBER 4: A. J. Turner /

We spoke to Barrett Sallee of to gather more insight about potential Green Bay Packers first-round draft target, Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith.

Smith’s career in Athens, Georgia began in 2015 after being a four-star prospect and the second best outside linebacker in the nation, according to ESPN.

His freshman year was very quiet, only recording 20 tackles. But he made a name for himself in his sophomore season. He led the Bulldogs with 95 tackles, five for a loss and forced two fumbles.

The 6-foot-1 junior progressed even more in what ended up being his final year.

For a second consecutive season, Smith led the Bulldogs in tackles. He showed off his great instincts and tackling abilities finishing the year with 137 tackles, 6.5 sacks, 14 tackles for a loss, recovered two fumbles and forced one.

Smith’s success on the field earned him the Buktus Award, given to the top college linebacker in the country. He is the only Georgia Bulldog to ever win the prestigious accolade.

To no surprise, he was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year, the first time a Georgia Bulldog won the award since Jarvis Jones was the award recipient in 2012.

He was also named the Defensive MVP in this year’s Rose Bowl victory, recording a game-high 11 tackles.

According to ESPN’s Mel Kiper rankings, Smith is listed as the top linebacker and the 15th best player in the 2018 NFL Draft.

I spoke to Barrett Sallee of to learn more about Smith’s potential. 

What are Smith’s strengths?

“Smith has a nose for the football, doesn’t get fooled by eye-candy in the backfield and when he hits you, he makes it hurt,” Sallee said. “He’s a freak athlete who combines pure athleticism with a football IQ that’s through the roof.”

What about his weaknesses?

“He doesn’t have any. From the moment he took the field as a freshman to the moment he stepped out of Mercedes-Benz Stadium, he’s been the one guy who opposing offensive coordinators always feared and schemed away from.”

Earlier in the year Sallee advocated that Smith should have been considered as a Heisman Trophy finalist.

He explained how Smith had better numbers than former Notre Dame linebacker, Manti Te’o, the last defensive player who was invited to the Heisman Trophy ceremony.

In addition, he detailed how Smith was just as valuable to Georgia, as Baker Mayfield was to the Oklahoma Sooners.

Smith has been projected in mock drafts to go as high as the top-10 and as low as the bottom-five because he is a bit undersized.

The dynamic linebacker would help the Packers in several ways. He would immediately make an impact in coverage and despite being small will use his quickness to counter that deficiency.

Veteran linebacker Clay Matthews will likely return with the Packers, especially after hearing new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine express that he will be using him both inside and outside. 

Having Smith learn from Matthews would be instrumental to his growth.

Next: Packers: 12 players that need to go this offseason

Pairing Smith with Blake Martinez screams potential for a bright young Packers linebacking core, if he is still available when Green Bay is on the clock.