Bears rookie linebacker Roquan Smith is among six NFL first-round picks that ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. believes will make an immediate impact this season.
The Bears selected Smith with the No. 8 pick in the draft last Thursday night. Last season he helped Georgia reach the CFP national championship game, starting all 15 games and leading the Bulldogs with 137 tackles, 6.5 sacks and 14.0 tackles-for-loss.
"Smith could be a contender to lead the NFL in tackles as a rookie," Kiper wrote. "Just look at the NFL's leading tacklers from 2017. They're all three-down middle linebackers who never have to leave the field. That's Smith, who will slot in next to Danny Trevathan to form a speedy and physical duo."
Take a look at the 13 first-round draft choices that the Bears will play during the 2018 season.
Last season Smith 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.
"Smith isn't a 6-foot-4, 260-pound monster like Brian Urlacher, but he's built for today's NFL," Kiper wrote. "At 6-foot, 237 pounds, he can beat blockers into the backfield in a hurry, and he can stick to tight ends and running backs in coverage. Smith has superstar potential, and the Bears' defense is ascending."
Kiper picked three offensive players and three defensive first-round picks he expects to make an immediate impact as rookies. In addition to Smith, the others are Giants running back Saquon Barkley, Colts guard Quenton Nelson, Seahawks running back Rashaad Penny, Saints defensive end Marcus Davenport and Chargers safety Derwin James.