LAKE FOREST - If everything works out as they hope, this would be the last time the Bears would be this early in the NFL Draft for a while.
Early first round picks give you an immediate shot for an impact player, but barring a trade that means the previous season wasn't that great. It's been the case for the Bears the last four seasons, where their original selection has been in the 11th spot or higher.
Ryan Pace took that pick back into the Top 10 in 2016 to draft Leonard Floyd, and Bears' fans know how aggressive he was to move up to get his quarterback in 2017. Would the General Manager make another bold move to get an impact player and give new head coach Matt Nagy an even better shot at success in 2018?
In the end, he decided that staying at the No. 8 pick would be the best way to do that, selecting Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith with the eighth overall pick.
The newest Chicago Bear is @RoquanSmith1!!!
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) April 27, 2018
Smith is the ninth linebacker the Bears have taken in the first round of the draft in a group that includes Hall of Famers Dick Butkus, Clyde "Bulldog" Turner, and Brian Urlacher.
Professor Larry Stat: Roquan Smith is the 9th linebacker to be taken in the first round by the Bears. Not a bad list of guys, including Butkus, Urlacher, Turner Wilson, Marshall, and Chuck Howley - who played 2 seasons with the Bears before having success in Dallas. @WGNNews pic.twitter.com/sRrl7puxkg
— Larry Hawley (@HawleySports) April 27, 2018
A native of Montezuma, Georgia, Smith was a standout linebacker for the Bulldogs for three seasons and was the most decorated linebacker in the country in 2017. The Butkus Award winner was the SEC Defensive Player of the Year and a consensus All-American as he led Georgia to the National Championship Game.
In 2017, he had 137 tackles, 14 tackles for loss that included 6 1/2 sacks.
It's the second time in Pace's tenure that the Bears have selected a linebacker from Georgia, having taken Floyd in 2016. Already the fellow linebacker is excited to welcome another Bulldog to the Bears.