The Chicago Bears drafted a gem in the 2018 NFL Draft with the eighth overall pick with former Georgia Bulldogs linebacker Roquan Smith. Smith is a fantastic talent and has all the makings of a successful player for years to come.
Of course, like any player there is room for improvement and after one season it's fair to say Smith is no different.
Although Smith led the Bears in tackles during his rookie season with 121 total, there is plenty more left for him to improve upon and take his game to the next level. The Bears defense made the jump to the elite conversation in 2018 and it seems safe to assume they will replicate that success moving forward.
Smith is a big part of their plans for the future, but if he wants to remain atop the team's stat sheets he'll need to do his best to improve his game to keep the Bears defense in the elite category.
Here are a few aspects to Smith's game that he needs to improve upon to be among the league's top linebackers.
While Smith was the team's leader in tackles last season, he struggled at times in open field. Smith was unreal against the run and that much is well-documented, but his size at 6-foot-1 has hindered his ability to make tackles in open field situations.
The Bears linebacker makes plenty of tackles as a whole, but he'll need to take some notes from teammate Danny Trevathan in order to emulate his lights out tackling ability. Smith is young and looks to be everything the Bears drafted him to be and it won't be long before his ability to make tackles in the open field starts coming together.
Smith's struggles against the passing game go hand-in-hand with the tackles he misses in the open field. Nobody can argue his ability to be a wrecking ball against run plays, but against the pass there is definitely room for improvement.
As stated previously, Smith's size does often find him a bit vulnerable at times considering plenty of receivers he faces off against will have a height advantage on him. The Bears likely will work on Smith establishing a better sense of what it will take to elevate his pass defense.
Whether it's his first step in coverage or his ability to compensate for his size, it's highly likely Smith will continue to grow his game and remain a strong contributor to the Bears' defense.
The Bears watched Smith unleash his incredible skill set all season long and wreck games for opposing offenses. Some games were definitely not as good as others in regards to Smith's numbers for that given game.
A player that easily averaged double digit tackles a game left a lot of them out on the field last season so establishing consistency is key going forward. Smith's career-high tackle total for a given game was 13 back on October 14th of last year against the Miami Dolphins in Week 6 of the regular season.
After that game, Smith struggled to gain momentum as he had back-to-back five tackle games against both the New England Patriots and New York Jets.