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Bears pick Roquan Smith at No. 8


It appears that the player the Bears selected with the eighth pick in the NFL Draft Thursday night will fit in perfectly with their storied tradition on defense.

Georgia's Roquan Smith is a speedy and tenacious sideline-to-sideline three-down inside linebacker who excels against the run as well as in pass coverage.

Last season as a junior the 6-1, 236-pounder was voted first-team All-American, won the Butkus Award as the nation's best linebacker and was named SEC Defensive Player of the Year. He was also a finalist for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy and Chuck Bednarik Award, both of which are presented to the country's best defensive player.

"What they can expect from me when I arrive is a relentless guy on the field and off the field, going about my business the right way and going to do whatever it takes to put the Bears in the best possible situation every time I step onto the field and on the practice field," Smith said.

"I'm beyond excited. I can't put into words how excited I am about this opportunity to be a Chicago Bear. It's insane and I'm ready to give the city of Chicago everything I have in me."

With the 8th pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Chicago Bears select Georgia LB Roquan Smith.

Smith helped Georgia reach the CFP national championship game last season, starting all 15 games and leading the Bulldogs with 137 tackles, 6.5 sacks, 14.0 tackles-for-loss and 20 quarterback hits. He was named MVP of the SEC Championship Game and Defensive MVP of the Rose Bowl in the CFP semifinal after registering 11 tackles in a win over Oklahoma.

At the NFL Combine, he ran a 4.51 in the 40-yard dash, the second fastest time among linebackers.

"I feel like my skillset varies," Smith said. "I feel like I'm a rangy guy, sideline-to-sideline. I can put my facemask on you. I feel like I can do a lot of things. I feel this opportunity I have is to showcase all of my abilities. My IQ and knowledge of the game I feel like is on another level."

Smith is eager to play for Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.

"Great guy, coached a lot of legends," Smith said. "I've heard so many great things about him and read many great things, then I knew many things for myself just being a football guy. I'm excited to play for his defense and get things going. I think it's going to be very special."

Due primarily to Smith's size, speed and style of play, he has been compared to Patrick Willis and Novarro Bowman, both of whom played inside linebacker with the 49ers when Fangio served in the same capacity with San Francisco from 2011-14.

"Those are legends in the game," Smith said. "I definitely know about those guys. We're all different in our own way, especially in being very unique. I feel like me and Patrick Willis both have similar speed and whatnot and both have a high IQ of the game."

Smith, who was one of four permanent team captains last year at Georgia, also possesses leadership ability.

"I took a lot of pride in just being the best possible teammate I could and always being there for my teammates regardless of the circumstances," Smith said. "I just really enjoyed the brotherhood that we shared there.

"I feel like I can be a vocal guy, but not a rah-rah guy all up in your face all the time. I feel like you have to know your teammates to be able to accept them, but my main thing is I lead by example. Guys tend to follow guys who do things the right way and go about their business. I feel like guys respect that because I know I have the utmost respect for individuals that do things the right way."

Smith is eager to reunite with former Georgia teammate Leonard Floyd, who will enter his third season with the Bears after being selected with the ninth pick in the 2016 draft.

"Leonard Floyd, I looked up to the guy a lot," Smith said. "He was a redshirt freshman junior when I was a freshman. It was definitely big looking up to him. I was a young guy, big-eyed freshman. It was pretty special to see him go ninth overall to the Chicago Bears, so I'm beyond excited right now."

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