Although expectations are high for the offensive side of the ball, that’s not it for the Chicago Bears.
Let’s not forget that the 2017 Bears’ defense finished in the top-10 in scoring and yards allowed. To do that while spending as much time on the field as it did says a lot about the talent on the roster and the coaching done by the entire staff. And to think, those numbers could get even better with the addition of first-rounder Roquan Smith.
Recently, NFL.com analyst Bucky Brooks provided an outlook for 11 of the top defensive rookies from this last draft class, and Smith, naturally, is included. Brooks, meanwhile, is a former league scout and one of the go-to analysts at NFL.com when it comes to getting a feel for what young players have to offer. So when he chimes in with his two cents on the Bears’ rookie inside linebacker, it’s wise to give it some attention. And after checking out his forecast, it’s hard not to come away giddy about what could be in store for Smith.
Brooks lays out a projected stat line of 100 tackles, two sacks, two forced fumbles, and an interception. And to be clear, that would be some upper-echelon stuff from the No. 8 pick in the draft – who still needs to play his way into a starting role before Week 1 kicks off.
To put these projected stats in perspective, Pro Football Reference’s Play Index reveals only 11 linebackers since 1990 have come away with at least 100 tackles during their rookie season. Among them, Brian Urlacher, who did it in a season in which he made 101 tackles, picked off two passes, and racked up eight sacks. But no forced fumbles? C’mon, Brian.
And how rare is a rookie season from a linebacker featuring at least 100 tackles, two sacks, two forced fumbles, and one interception? Very. Miami Dolphins linebacker Zach Thomas is the only linebacker in the last 25 years to pull off such a feat. If Smith were to do it, he would enter some elite company. To be sure, this is a high bar set by Brooks … and we wouldn’t have it any other way.