Two players from the state of Georgia, defensive end Bradley Chubb and linebacker Roquan Smith, were selected early in the NFL draft on Thursday.
Chubb, who played at Hillgrove High before going on to start at N.C. State, was selected with the fifth overall pick by the Denver Broncos.
Smith, who played at Macon County High before going on to start at the University of Georgia, was selected with the eighth overall pick by the Chicago Bears.
Chubb was considered the top pass-rusher in the draft.
Smith became the fifth defensive player from Georgia to be selected within the first 10 picks since 1967.
The Georgia defensive players selected in the Top 10:
- 2016: Leonard Floyd, linebacker, ninth overall by Chicago
- 2003: Johnathan Sullivan, defensive tackle, sixth overall by New Orleans
- 2001: Richard Seymour, defensive tackle, sixth overall by New England
- 1999: Champ Bailey, cornerback, seventh overall by Washington
NFL offenses have evolved to getting running backs in space against linebackers, seeking mismatches. Linebackers in today’s NFL must be fast and cover much more ground.
Smith ran the 40-yard dash in 4.51 seconds at the NFL scouting combine.
Smith was measured at 6-foot, 7/8 inches and weighed 236 pounds. He was listed at 225 pounds last season at Georgia. He said that was his sophomore year weight.
“He’s today’s NFL off-the-ball linebacker and it’s mostly about speed,” NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said pre-draft. “He’s 225 pounds. Deion Jones was drafted in the second round in Atlanta two years ago. He’s the prototype. I think Roquan Smith takes it a step farther. A very similar type guy. I love the way he plays.”
After Smith’s much-publicized de-commitment from UCLA to Georgia after linebackers coach Jeff Ulbrich joined the Falcons’ staff, he went on to play 38 games for the Bulldogs and totaled 252 tackles and 20.5 tackles for losses.
Like Jones, Smith can work the field for sideline to sideline hunting down ball carriers.
He’ll have to work on his pass coverage, but he has the attack-blitz part of the position down. He had 6.5 sacks for the Bulldogs last season.
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