J’Rob’s Scouting Corner: Roquan Smith

Roquan Smith

Roquan Smith #3 – 6’1 225lb – LB Georgia

Breaking down the first round talent Roquan Smith. Is he a fit for the the Raiders roster? Will he produce on day one? Does Roquan immediately fill the long-term inside linebacker role for the Silver and Black? Find out the answers to all this and more below.

Pros:
  • Great blitzer: Roquan Smith explodes off the snap regardless of his positioning.  Has the speed to beat blocking backs and quickly attack the Quarterback.
  • Quick to diagnose run lanes and takes a good angle through the gap.
  • Covers the middle of the field well in zone. Stays patient in coverage. Never commits too hard to route concepts.
  • Delivers a nice blow while staying low and driving into the ball carrier. Still wraps up even going for the big hit; Violent tackler. Gets low and strikes at a 45 degree angle.  Doesn’t get rolled over for big yards often.
  • Real good stop and go mechanics. Stays light on his feet through out the play then when he decides where he is going he reaches top speed fast while showing off incredible burst.
  • Shuts outside runs down. Ultimate sideline to sideline ability.  Does it with his burst, instincts and pursuit angles.
  • Very fast, great change of direction, stop notch acceleration. Extreme athlete. Twitchy, and when he needs to, he fires into a second gear.
  • Good man to man skills and will diagnose route combinations and pick plays thus avoiding them and still make a play. He will match up well against RB’s in coverage.


Cons:
  • Small and undersized. Severe limitation on that front as not only does he look small but he’s considerably light at 225 lbs.
  • Dominated by linemen who get their hands on him. His underwhelming size makes for a complete mismatch in strength battles.
  • Struggles to shed blocks. Smith is often driven back while trying to use the blockers momentum against them via side jukes and dip moves.  While this can work, it often results in forfeiting the gap and allowing large running lanes.
  • Guesses from time to time. Speed is the band-aid here as he is able to reverse course and make up for bad decisions.
  • Gets confused when there are a lot of moving parts in the backfield. Triple option, read option, things of that nature.  Gets lost in the sauce on those types of plays
  • Isnt a very physical player. You will never see him it the line and clog a lane by stonewalling the defender in the hole.  He just doesn’t have the physical ability to do it.
  • Effortlessly gets pushed back. Looks almost light as a feather.
  • Will bite on play fakes and give up a play from time to time
  • What position does he play in the pros?


Conclusion:

Roquan Smith is a tremendous athlete and an all-around unique player.  Smith possesses so much agility, burst, speed, and quick twitch it’s almost mystifying to look at.  While watching the tape, he just looked like he had super-human quickness and agility. Roquan has the second gear to close in and shut down plays and chase people down sideline to sideline and it Is damn impressive to watch.


He has the instincts to diagnose simple run plays and with the burst and acceleration to close gaps quickly.  More often than not he is around the ball carrier and there in a hurry.

With every hard hit, every sideline to sideline tackle, every blitz where he fired off the line, it becomes more apparent why he is a  bona fide first round pick and a day one starter with All-Pro ability.  All this comes with the caveat that he is undersized and is prone to getting pushed far away from the ball carrier. When allowed to roam around, he looked like an all pro out there, when he had to face up and take on a blocker he looked like a bust.

Squad Goals:

His success depends greatly on the talent surrounding him. In other words, in order for Smith to be successful at the pro level, he’ll require defensive tackles capable of absorbing multiple blockers in front of him. With the right pieces in place, he could be in the conversation for the Defensive Rookie of the Year.

While all this sounds like your typical boom or bust pick, it really is a product of his unique attributes and athleticism.  When people think boom or bust they connect it with raw talent that needs coaching and game study and experience.  With Smith, that is not the case as you are going to know exactly what you are getting.  He already knows the game and he is already adept at things that would be considered “coachable.”

His high ceiling or low floor is going to be completely correlated to the plan you have for him when he steps on the field.  If surrounded by the right talent, Roquan Smith could be a perennial pro-bowler and all-pro.  For instance, On Jack Del Rio’s Jacksonville team, which featured John Henderson and Marcus Strout manning the two DT spots, he would have been a hall of famer, as crazy as that sounds.

Subsequently I want to believe in this guy and saw why people are getting excited about him.  I want to buy in.  I really do, but I just can’t with how badly and often he gets handled by other blockers.  If it is that bad in college its only going to get worse in the NFL.

What Does He Fit With the Silver and Black?

With the scouting report complete, it’s time to address how Roquan Smith fits in with the Silver and Black.  With the aforementioned cons and prerequisites, it would not appear as though Roquan is a fit for the Raiders roster as it currently stands.  Smith would requirea player along the likes of Ngata, Suh, Snacks Harrison, or Dontari Poe kind in front of him in order to stay clean and roam the field.

The Raiders’ largest defensive tackle, Justin Ellis, is more than likely gone.  After that Oakland is left with Vanderdoes and Autry.  Even if Denico stays, he is 3-tech guy that isn’t going to take up multiple people.  Same with Mario Edwards, Vanderdoes and Jihad Ward.  The Raiders currently do not possess a two-gap defender on the defensive line and Roquan Smith’s success is DEPENDENT on having that player.

If drafted, he would come in and immediately help the Raiders’ pass defense.  He is great at defending the middle of the field in zone, which was probably the biggest weakness on the defense last year, and that alone is a good reason to draft him.  However, he is too small to cover TE which is another problem that’s plagued Oakland for some time.

Final Thoughts:

In short, if you draft Roquan Smith you are drafting him for one thing, and one thing only: to defend the middle of the field on passing downs.  Without a bonafide two-gap defender he is going to be a liability in the run game.  Therefore, If it’s me making the pick for the Raiders I am passing on him because he is not a fit for the way the team is configured right now. Oakland needs an immediate impact all-around player in the 9th/10th slot in this year’s draft. Roquan is NOT that player.


Written by: J’Rob