Of all the players projected to go to the Raiders in the first round of this year’s draft, one, in particular, shows up more often than any other. If this player makes it to No. 10, the Raiders would have a shot at a player that reminds a long-time NFL scout of a Pro Football Hall of Famer.
That player is University of Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith, the linchpin of the Bulldogs defense last season in their run to the NCAA Championship Game. The Hall of Famer is Ray Lewis, the long-time standout of the Baltimore Ravens.
Long-time NFL scout Bruce Kebric, who worked in that capacity for Al Davis for almost 35 years, broke down seven of Smith’s games from this past season and offered up his scouting report to RaidersSnakePit.
“He’s an athletic linebacker with excellent instincts,” Kebric said.
That’s enough to make Smith an instant upgrade for the Raiders, who have been starved for a dominant linebacker for years. They signed veteran Tahir Whitehead in free agency last month and return some promising young linebacker in Cory James, Marquel Lee and Nicholas Morrow.
But, the Raiders lack a game-changing, attitude-adjusting linebacker along the lines of Smith, who won the Butkus Award as the nation’s top linebacker last season.
Kebric graded Smith as a prospect worthy of being selected in the 6-10 range. Coincidentally, the Raiders pick at No. 10 and just might have a shot at Smith if Kebric’s projection holds up. It also means that it’s a long-shot that Smith will make it to the Raiders. Their best hope is, if three or more quarterbacks are taken within the first nine picks.
The only negative that Kebric attached to Smith was his height. At 6-foot 1/2-inch, Smith isn’t very tall for a linebacker. But, as Kebric said, the Raiders interior defensive linemen are big enough and stout enough to keep offensive linemen from getting their hands on Smith, which is huge because of Smith’s ability to read, react and make plays in the open field.
Lewis enjoyed so much success, in part, because of the Ravens’ ability to clog the middle of the line with massive tackles such as Sam Adams and Tony Siragusa. In turn, that prevented offensive linemen from being able to get their hands on Lewis, who stood 6-1 and weighed 245 pounds. That’s about the same size as Smith.
Kebric was impressed by every aspect of Smith’s game and considered him equally adept against the run and pass. The Raiders would be fortunate to have Smith on the board when they are on the clock, given Kebric’s glowing assessment.
“He’s an excellent middle linebacker prospect who reminds me of Ray Lewis,” Kebric said. “He makes a lot of big plays in big games.”