There isn’t a higher profile off the ball linebacker in the NFL Draft than Roquan Smith, a player many believe won’t even be in play by the time the Dallas Cowboys are on the clock with the 19th overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Could the Cowboys pull the trigger to bring another Smith in to partner with Jaylon Smith and Sean Lee? Well he certainly has a skill set that would be of use in a group that is set to lose Anthony Hitchens (potentially) to free agency.
Height: 6’ 7/8”
Hand Size: 10”
Arm Length: 32”
Fr: 10 Games, 20 Tackles, 0 Sacks, 1.5 TFL, 0 FF
So: 13 Games, 95 Tackles, 0 Sacks, 5.0 TFL, 2 FF
Jr: 15 Games, 137 Tackles, 6.5 Sacks, 14 TFL, 1 FF
Total: 38 Games, 252 Tackles, 6.5 Sacks, 20.5 TFL, 3 FF
Smith does a good job diagnosing plays much like current Cowboy Lee does a frequent basis. Not to say that Smith is on his level, but he shows flashes of Lee like play on a pretty consistent basis.
Being able to learn under Lee would do wonders for his career, not to mention strengthen this position group. He sees the play develop in front of him and attacks the ball carrier.
On this particular play, Smith sees the play flow to the right side of the field. What he does well is avoiding any blockers on his way to the ball carrier. This allows him to stop any more yards and the touchdown. This just happens to be another trait that you will see Smith showcase time and time again. Even on passing plays, Roquan avoids the wide receiver to get to the ball carrier to prevent the first down on third down.
Being an off the ball linebacker, one needs to be good in coverage. Again, something Smith does very well. He will get his hands on the receiver and stay with them down the field. He recognizes when running backs come out of the backfield to become a receiver. He will come up to prevent them from making a play. Smith often flies into the backfield like a rocket to disrupt screen plays. Below you will see Smith come up to take on the running back which forces a coverage sack for the defense.
Now it isn’t all sunshine and daffodils with Roquan Smith. At times he doesn’t tackle with the best form, but he does get the job done regardless. A lack of form is something that could bite him at the next level as players are just bigger, stronger and faster in some cases. He did play in the SEC so it is perhaps not as big jump of a for Smith, but it's something to keep an eye on. The other issues comes for the 236 pound backer as Smith has issues with shedding blockers when dealing with offensive linemen. Not surprising considering he gives up 60+ pounds.
Roquan Smith has the skill set to play the WILL (weak side linebacker) in this defense but Lee currently commands that spot. He could be the eventual heir to Lee and spell him from time to time with the annual injury bug that seems to bite him.
With the report that the Cowboys are looking to see what Jaylon Smith has at SAM (strong-side linebacker), Roquan wouldn’t be the ideal fit for the middle of the defense but I firmly believe he could perform well. A better idea is if Hitchens walks, play Lee at WILL and Roquan Smith at SAM. This would give a deadly linebacking group provided that Jaylon continues to progress as the MIKE of the future.
Roquan Smith is likely a top 15 pick in this draft but the Dallas Cowboys should sprint to the podium if he is available.
Should the Cowboys snap up Roquan Smith if given the chance or select from a position with more of a need? Share your thoughts with Patrick on Twitter @DraftCowboys.