Chicago Bears players being overlooked is nothing new. The wider NFL media just seems to prefer that way. Or they just don’t take the team seriously since it rarely puts a winner on the field often enough to be relevant. Regardless, that is a bad excuse for ignoring some truly great talents. Obviously Khalil Mack gets his due as does Eddie Jackson. Yet where is the love for Akiem Hicks or Allen Robinson? Both are great and yet rarely get mentioned among the best at their respective positions. However, their snubs pale in comparison to what just happened with Roquan Smith.
Marc Sessler of NFL.com released his list of the 2020 All-Under-25 team. A group of players who come in under the age of 25 who are the best at their respective positions. When the subject of linebackers came up, one would think Smith gets attention being he’s only 23. This was not the case at all. The first choice was the Cowboys’ Leighton Vander Esch, which is fair given how good he’s been. However, it was the second that should instantly send Bears fans into a tirade.
Not only was it not Smith, it was somebody most people haven’t even heard of named Bobby Okereke.
“Many to pick from with Devin Bush, Devin White and Dre Greenlaw showing plenty as rookies. Okereke produced the most complete campaign of the bunch, though, finishing as PFF’s ninth-rated linebacker with an ability to line up all over the field. He’s dynamic in coverage, too, more of a need than ever in today’s NFL. Colts general manager Chris Ballard has an eye for stacking talent in the middle of his defense, pairing Okereke with alpha dog Darius Leonard to cause a special blend of havoc in Indy.”
It is a crime that Okereke beat out Roquan Smith for that spot
Not only was Okereke chosen over Smith, which is bad enough. It appears the Bears linebacker wasn’t even in the conversation. That is a travesty. Think about this. Okereke played 16 games. He finished with 65 tackles, a sack, and two forced fumbles. Smith, who is the same age remember, had 101 tackles, two sacks, and an interception in 12 games. So he produced more in four fewer games.
Not only that, but Okereke gets lauded for being so good in coverage. Quarterbacks posted a 98.3 passer rating when throwing in his direction last year. They managed just a 75.9 rating when going at Smith, who also didn’t allow a touchdown as Okereke did. What else is there to say? Sessler either intentionally snubbed Smith as part of some personal issue or didn’t do proper research for his piece.
Neither can really be excused. Smith is one of the best linebackers in football under the age of 25. That’s not up for debate. Not being chosen is bad enough. Being dismissed in favor of somebody like Okereke is a joke.