Browns: Top 5 linebacker targets in the 2018 NFL Draft

BOISE, ID - DECEMBER 2: Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch
BOISE, ID - DECEMBER 2: Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch /
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1. Roquan Smith, Georgia

Georgia Bulldogs linebacker Roquan Smith jumps off the tape in every single possible way. Run defense, pass defense, Smith has it all, and the potential for more. He can play inside and outside linebacker, and can even as a pass rusher in some schemes.

As a Bulldog, Smith led head coach Kirby Smart and Georgia to a College Football Playoff semifinals win, and an appearance in the National Championship game. What is interesting about Smith, however, is his lack of true physical dominance.

At about 6-foot-1 and 225 pounds, Smith seems to be a bit undersized for the position. Nevertheless, Smith is a frightening tackler and will strike fear into the eyes of quarterbacks, running backs, or any other ball carrier that opponents might put in front of him.

As a slightly undersized player, Smith uses his incredible intelligence and speed to break down plays and get to the ball carrier as quickly as possible. During his final season with the Bulldogs, he showed his dominance with 137 tackles (11.5 for loss) and 6.5 sacks.

USA Today’s had high praise for Smith in their draft profile, citing his instincts and incredible football IQ:

"“An athletic, rangy playmaker with fantastic instincts and awareness, Smith has been a one-man wrecking crew for coach Kirby Smart and company.” — Draftwire"

Smith is, hands down, the best linebacker in this class. The only real reason for the Browns to take him would be if something is really and truly wrong with Jamie Collins.

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If one linebacker in this class is worth a first-round pick, let alone the fourth overall pick like the Browns have, Smith is that guy. He will be an immediate playmaker for any team that selects him, and could add phenomenal depth to the Browns linebacking corps.