Legendary Chicago Bears middle linebacker Dick Butkus liked what he saw in Roquan Smith well before the team used the eighth pick in the 2018 NFL Draft to make him the centerpiece of what hopes to be a top-tier defense.
Butkus sent a video congratulating Smith for winning the 2017 Butkus Award, which goes to college football’s best linebacker and is named after … well, you know who. Butkus would later meet Smith during one of Georgia’s practices before the Rose Bowl. And when the Bears drafted Smith, Butkus sent him a text message, and the rookie’s immediate response seemed to come across as impressive.
“It’s kind of refreshing to see that compared to a lot of these other kids that come out thinking they are all-world,” Butkus said, via ESPN’s Jeff Dickerson. “Roquan is a down-to-earth kid and that should serve him well there in Chicago.”
Shortly after GM Ryan Pace made Smith his first-round choice, Dan Pompei of The Athletic caught up with Butkus, Mike Singletary, and Brian Urlacher to get a feel for how three Hall of Fame linebackers felt about the decision. It’s a good piece to read and gives some worthwhile perspective from all-time greats who know a thing or two about a position that is synonymous with Bears football.
You’ll want to read it for full context, but Singletary’s brief summation of the selection is pretty spot on, as it’s clear that Bears fans weren’t the only ones excited about Smith joining the Bears.
“I think he’s prefect, a perfect pick,” Singletary said. “They needed an inside guy. He’s a guy who can run. He’s a leader. I think he’s going to be special.”
The lineage of excellent Bears linebackers is strong, and the hope is that Smith will be the next great one to make plays on the Soldier Field turf.