First-round draft pick Roquan Smith remained unsigned when the Bears reported to training camp Thursday. But general manager Ryan Pace expressed confidence that an agreement with the inside linebacker from Georgia would be reached shortly.
"You guys know there's a lot of details that go into these things," Pace told reporters during his camp-opening press conference in Bourbonnais. "We're optimistic that he's here soon. It's really part of the process and meanwhile we're rolling forward with the guys that are here, and that chemistry and continuity is important."
Smith's situation certainly isn't unique; seven of the top nine picks in this year's NFL Draft had yet to sign with their respective teams as of Thursday.
"We want him here," Pace said. "But I think we also understand this happens. This isn't necessarily abnormal around the league. It's happening. It is sometimes part of the process. We're very optimistic that he'll be here very soon. But it is kind of what it is right now.
"These are rather common and somewhat predictable. But we've got great relationships with his agents. We've worked with them on a number of deals. It's just working this process."
The Bears selected Smith with the eight pick in the draft. Last year as a junior the 6-1, 225-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.
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, Smith ran a 4.51 in the 40-yard dash, the second fastest time among linebackers.
The Bears viewed Smith as a tenacious and speedy sideline-to-sideline playmaker in the draft, and he didn't disappoint during offseason practices.
"[He was] everything we thought," Pace said. "He's an extremely talented player. But all the intangibles that he brings are also off the charts. So when we talk about identifying that guy that can potentially be that bell-cow on defense, he has those types of traits."