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2018 NFL Draft prospect profile: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

Smith is widely regarded as the best linebacker in the draft. Could he be a future Giant?

NCAA Football: CFP National Championship Game-Alabama vs Georgia Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

It has been a long time since the New York Giants have drafted a linebacker in the first round of the draft. So long, in fact, that it hasn’t happened in many Giants’ fans life times.

The role of linebackers has both changed and expanded as offenses have both gotten faster and more athletic as college concepts have been adopted by NFL offensive coordinators. The ideal NFL linebacker has changed from a big, powerful enforcer to a player who can play the run, cover receivers, running backs, and tight ends, as well as rush the passer.

In short, the “ideal” modern NFL linebacker looks more like Georgia’s Roquan Smith.



  • Smart and highly instinctive linebacker.
  • True sideline-to-sideline range
  • Three-down linebacker. Good run defense, pass coverage, and pass rush
  • Capable of playing in both man and zone coverage.
  • Impressive short-area quickness and closing burst.
  • Reliable tackler.
  • Defensive leader.


  • Sligthly undersized from the NFL’s perspective.
  • Occasionally struggles to directly take on more powerful blockers

Prospect video

What they’re saying

Sources Tell Us

”Great player. Really fun to watch because he can get to just about any play on the field and he’s only going to get better. You would love to play him inside but he may have to slide to WILL.” -- AFC team personnel director


Does he fit the Giants?

There isn’t a defense in the modern NFL that Roquan Smith doesn’t fit. He might be slightly undersized from a more “old school” perspective, but he is athletic, instinctive, productive, and a leader with few real weaknesses.

He is exactly the kind of linebacker defenses need to combat today’s pass-happy offenses, with the speed to hang with running backs and hybrid tight ends in coverage, the range to match underneath passing concepts, the ability to be a playmaker in the run game, and a factor as a pass rusher.

Smith is viewed by many scouts and observers as the top linebacker in the 2018 draft and a potential, probably evel likely, Top 10 pick. While he would be a great fit in the Giants’ defense, it is unlikely that value would fit unless the team trades down.