Roquan Smith Declares for 2018 NFL Draft After 3 Seasons at Georgia

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistJanuary 15, 2018

SOUTH BEND, IN - SEPTEMBER 09: Roquan Smith #3 of the Georgia Bulldogs reacts during a game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Notre Dame Stadium on September 9, 2017 in South Bend, Indiana. Georgia won 20-19. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

University of Georgia inside linebacker Roquan Smith announced Monday he'll forgo his senior season with the Bulldogs to enter the 2018 NFL draft.

"As you know, this is somewhat of a crossroads for me," Smith said in a statement, per Marc Weiszer of the Athens Banner-Herald. "I've had discussions with coaches and family and a lot of thought and prayer. The decision to leave is not easy, but I know it is the right one. Georgia will always be my school and my home, and I sincerely wish all the best to the coaches, staff and players as they continue to reach higher goals in the years to come."

Smith arrived as a 4-star prospect with an uncertain future. While he'd flashed plenty of potential at Macon County High School, the in-state recruit was barely 200 pounds, which raised questions about whether he'd stick at linebacker or switch to safety.

Now the 20-year-old punisher, who's steadily improved with the Bulldogs, checks in at 225 pounds, and he's established himself as one of the top linebackers in the country.

He didn't make much of an impact as a freshman, tallying 20 tackles in 10 games, but his role increased as a sophomore in 2016. He responded by racking up 95 tackles and two forced fumbles.

Smith continued to shine this past season with 137 tackles and the first 6.5 sacks of his career. He posted those numbers as Georgia reached the College Football Playoff title game.

The Bulldogs' "Will" linebacker was charged with setting the tone defensively. He told Jason Butt of the Telegraph he found satisfaction in making plays on the edge.

"I definitely take pride in that because I want to make sure they know early that I will be here all night," Smith said in November. "It's just some sense of pride when you see somebody and you know this guy is fast too. It's just that I am a fierce competitor."

Smith's decision to make the jump to the NFL wasn't a surprise. He's got nothing left to prove with the Bulldogs and has a chance to land inside the top 10 with a strong draft process.

His ability to make plays from sideline to sideline, his reliable tackling and the improvement he showed this past season while rushing the passer give him a wide-ranging skill set that should make him a day-one starter at the next level.

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