Entering his fourth NFL season, Chicago Bears linebacker Roquan Smith has a chip on his shoulder that is seemingly bigger than ever. After being snubbed from the Pro Bowl in 2020 despite putting up 139 tackles, four sacks, 18 tackles for loss, and six quarterback hits.
Last season showcased what the Bears envisioned when the franchise spent the eighth overall pick on Smith in the 2018 NFL Draft. A speedy, off-ball linebacker who excels in coverage, Smith has quickly developed into one of the many faces of the Bears defense.
Those that have followed Smith over the last few years have seen his ascension. A highly touted draft pick, many believe that Smith is ready to become the next great Bears linebacker, joining names like Mike Singletary, Dick Butkus, and Brian Urlacher.
Chicago’s roster has star players on both offense and defense, featuring names like wide receiver Allen Robinson, safety Eddie Jackson, and edge rusher Khalil Mack. As an individual player, based on performances throughout his first three seasons, Smith is someone that has made a case for being Chicago’s third-best player, behind Mack and Robinson.
“If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse in my opinion, so I feel like there was a lot of things I learned out there, bonding with some of the new guys that are here, with some of the rookies as well, and also just learning little new things into the defense,” Smith said via the Bears official YouTube Channel.
Being one of the sole defensive starters present at voluntary OTA’s showcases Smith’s commitment to being great and being a face of the Bears defense heading into 2021. The fourth-year linebacker is focused on playing football more than anything when the Bears return to Halas Hall later this month for training camp.
“I would say I’m even more motivated than last year,” Smith said. “I’m not too focused about last year and my thing is, I don’t care about all the postseason accolades and different things like that. My job is to go out there and show them that I’m the best at what I’m doing.”
Smith has proved to be one of the best players on the Bears roster so far but 2020 was merely an indicator of how good he can be, especially entering 2021.