https://www.fanragsports.com/nfl-draft/nfl-draft-tale-of-tape-roquan-smith-vs-tremaine-edmunds/ not sure who I would go with if I had the choice, both are going to be starters in the league for sure...I do feel Smith is more similar to McMillan though, and is best suited to play either MLB or WLB in our 4-3, or ILB on a 3-4 team.....I think Edmunds would be my pick, as he is suited more as a MLB or SLB....with him we could use him as SAM and keep McMillan in the middle or visa versa...although he is a monster at 6'5'' 250, he is exceptionally fast and quick for his size ________________________________________________________________________________________________ 2017 Butkus Award-winning linebacker Roquan Smith is one of the best defensive prospects in the talent pool for the 2018 NFL Draft. Smith burst onto the scene in 2017, his second year as a starting linebacker for the Georgia Bulldogs. With 137 total tackles, 6.5 sacks and 14 tackles for loss in 15 games, Smith’s hype is well deserved. But he isn’t without competition for the claim of “top linebacker” in this year’s NFL Draft class. That’s because Virginia Tech’s Tremaine Edmunds also declared after a strong junior season. With 108 tackles, 5.5 sacks and 14 tackles for loss (13 games), there are some fun parallels to be made between the two. The clearest parallel between the two? These guys are good. But is one a clearly better option? That depends on what teams prefer to hedge their bets on with each player’s strengths and ideal role. Who will have his name called first? Here’s how the two stack up: Georgia LB Roquan Smith Listed height – 6-1 Listed weight – 225 Age on Draft night – 21 (DOB: April, 1997) Games played – 30 (25 starts) Career production – 252 total tackles, 6.5 sacks, 20.5 tackles for loss, 3 forced fumbles, 3 fumble recoveries. Ideal role – 4-3 MIKE (middle) LB Film assessment Smith is a terrific player in the middle, showing notable range and some of the most decisive processing of plays to explode into the action from his position along the interior. Smith’s skills are polished. His eyes and athletic ability often yield strong results as a scrape defender working over the top of the play. Smith consistently gets out of his run reads and into lateral pursuit. The angle from Smith on this play against Oklahoma shows not only good range, but a good angle to work into the line of scrimmage and ensure this hit happens before the first down marker on 3rd and 2. Smith’s film is littered with examples of scraping over the top and gaining ground at the line of scrimmage. His lateral range makes him a strong fit to play MIKE linebacker in the middle. There, he can be asked to play sideline to sideline and be the true captain of his defense. Any team intending to invest in Smith should embrace his ability to play in space. No, he may not be a great man-to-man defender down the field, but as the MIKE he’ll often be charged with playing backs out of the backfield. Take note, on this rep against Oklahoma, how every step he takes is to close space and make a clean tackle. Smith closes ground on two separate occasions in this rep. The initial push is to get width and stay over top of this flat route before gearing back down and coming to balance. From there, Smith accelerates yet again and delivers a key play in double overtime of the Rose Bowl. An important note on Smith: He has a true gift for seeing the action on the field. In the above play, Smith does well to step underneath the slant and take an aggressive angle to challenge the play. But Smith isn’t one who plays by the same rules regardless of the situation, and that’s a good thing. Here against Alabama in the national championship game, Smith is given the same scenario: slant/flat combination and responsibility of the running back. But the slant route is quicker and more shallow than it was against Oklahoma, and Smith scrapes over the top of the route instead before gaining ground and making the tackle to force a third down. Obviously Smith has the movement skills, football intelligence and tackling skills to be a high impact starter. What are the concerns? To be frank, there aren’t many. Some will point to his size and length, which do pop up in tight traffic instances. Smith’s game is predicated on anticipation and quickness, so the inconsistencies getting off blocks won’t ultimately hinder his successes as a player. But it is noteworthy for teams considering Smith and asking him to filter through a lot of climbing offensive linemen or plug gaps and then transition into pursuit after the fact. _________________________________________________________________________________________________ Virginia Tech LB Tremaine Edmunds Listed height – 6-5 Listed weight – 250 Age on Draft night – 19 (DOB: May, 1998) Games played – 40 (29 starts) Career production – 226 total tackles, 10.0 sacks, 35.0 tackles for loss, 1 interception, 4 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recoveries. Ideal role – 4-3 SAM (strong) LB Film assessment This is what makes the draft fun. Edmunds and Smith have similar per-game production across all major tallies of the position, but they’re very different players. Smith is a read-and-react defender in the middle, while Edmunds is more of a space athlete and often shows best on flat-footed reads in the box as a “Rat” defender. Here’s what makes Edmunds potentially so special. He can do the traditional read-and-react work as well. This is a terrific rep between the tackles for Edmunds. He steps down with his run read before accelerating to fill behind the pulling guard and climbing offensive tackle to greet the ballcarrier in the backfield. Edmunds’ angle on his break makes this play. He flows perfectly and steps into the point of attack with the kind of athleticism that allows a shooting linebacker to fill unscathed. Pittsburgh was clearly a strong performance for Edmunds, but note his efficiency out of his stance on this run. Edmunds isn’t suckered by the jet motion at the snap. He keeps his eyes keying down the barrel of the formation. As the center blocks right and the QB hinges the same way, Edmunds wastes no time stepping to fill. This presence between the tackles is vital for Edmunds because it showcases one of his distinct traits in comparison to Smith. While Smith doesn’t have great length and can get sucked into blocks, Edmunds has consistently shown his length and ability to get unlocked off blockers in high-traffic areas. This is textbook run defending. Edmunds gains gap integrity by shooting his hands and establishing a “stack” on the block of the right guard. But that isn’t even the best part of how Edmunds attacks the play. The concept of giving ground to gain ground is complicated. It, like Roquan Smith’s flexible attack of the slant/flat combo, requires a non-linear mindset and understanding that all plays must be handled based on variables that can change from snap to snap. Instead of trying to press through the outside shoulder, which many are coached to do in a similar situation, Edmunds draws the pads back and uses a hand shed to finish his disengagement in a way that would make pass rushers blush. Giving ground to gain ground, Edmunds wins the gap and wins the rep. This isn’t a one-time occurrence, either. Now that the ability to appreciate Edmunds’ mental flexibility has been established, note the fluidity of that backward step to get back into an “overhang” position. Edmunds, at 6-5 and 250 pounds, moves with much more grace than should be the accepted standard. It’s part of what makes his ceiling so high and his play so attractive. Edmunds’ movement skills are a key piece of every layer of his game, including man-to-man coverage. Here, against West Virginia, Edmunds successfully shows great hip mobility to flip vertically and carry RB Justin Crawford down the field. Going 40-plus yards downfield against a wheel route with a player owning Crawford’s speed is no small feat for any linebacker, let alone one of this stature. As has been previously mentioned, Edmunds is a space defender. He has three-down value thanks to high-quality skills outside the hashes. ________________________________________________________________________________________________ In summary, these are going to be two of the 32 first-round selections in April. Both are deserving of high praise, but they’re also different players in different molds. One must get his name called first — who will it be? I believe that player to be Tremaine Edmunds. With the versatility, special size/athleticism combination, and the length to key off blocks and still challenge the play between the tackles with greater consistency, there’s more ceiling to be reached. Of course some will counter that Smith has a higher floor and is a cleaner projection. It’s nearly impossible to go wrong between these two stud linebackers, but for my money I expect we’ll hear Tremaine Edmunds’ name first on that Thursday night in April.