2018 NFL Draft: Bears stay put and add reliable LB Roquan Smith in Round 1

2018 NFL Draft: Bears stay put and add reliable LB Roquan Smith in Round 1
ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 26: Roquan Smith of Georgia poses with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being picked #8 overall by the Chicago Bears during the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft at AT&T Stadium on April 26, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

A trade down could have been in the works, but Bears general manager Ryan Pace kept the No. 8 selection in his possession to take Georgia inside linebacker Roquan Smith on Thursday night.

In his fourth NFL Draft as the team's general manager and first alongside new head coach Matt Nagy, Pace made Smith the fourth straight top 10 pick joining the likes of WR Kevin White (2015), LB Leonard Floyd (2016) and QB Mitch Trubisky (2017).

Smith, a 6'1", 236-pounder will slide into the Bears' defense next to veteran Danny Trevathan. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio now has a young, speedy and aggressive backer to employ in his 3-4 defense. More often than not, Smith will play with Trevathan and his former Georgia teammate Leonard Floyd in the nickel defense.

Named the 2017 SEC Defensive Player of the Year, the 2017 Dick Butkus winner and a 1st-Team AP All-American, Smith gobbled up 137 tackles (14 for a loss), 6.5 sacks, two fumble recoveries and a forced fumble.

You can find Smith in the right position at most times, flying around the field much like Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs did for so many seasons in Chicago. It is looking more and more like the old days defensively following this selection.

The defense needs playmakers with so many veteran linebackers being let go earlier this off-season. Smith will be a chess piece in Fangio's defense but he isn't a legitimate pass rushing specialist as all 6.5 of his college sacks came as a junior in 2017.

Regardless, the defense certainly looks a whole lot better after this pick.

Sam Acho could be a starter at OLB while Roy Robertson-Harris could be a starter at DL as well. This is simply a projection. Hence why the Bears need more playmakers at those two positions.

Final thoughts

The Bears are better off today than prior to the draft. Pace and his staff targeted the guy they wanted if he was there at No. 8. They all had him high on their boards and it meshed. Smith is going to come in and be a vocal leader from Day 1.

One thing is for sure, the effort level just got a boost defensively. That type of play will linger all throughout the locker room and give someone tough for Trubisky to go up against in practices.

Whether you agree with Pace or not, he has taken a player with a high IQ, raw talent and athleticism in four straight first rounds. Smith could easily be the best first rounder taken by the Pace regime at the end of the day.

Note: Smith is the fourth Georgia Bulldog on the Bears' roster joining Floyd, DL John Jenkins and WR Marlon Brown.

ICYMI: Bears' Mock Draft 

Thoughts on the selection of Smith in Round 1?

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