Sources Tell Us: Roquan Smith rising; Buzz for Royce Freeman

Our analysts are constantly talking to NFL and college sources about players in the college game. This week, analyst Lance Zierlein shares some of what NFL folks are saying about one of the top defensive prospects and best RBs in the nation.

Note: Click through the tabs above to see Sources Tell Us from previous weeks.

The scoop: "Great player. Really fun to watch because he can get to just about any play on the field and he's only going to get better. You would love to play him inside but he might have to slide to WILL (weakside linebacker)." -- AFC executive on Georgia LB Roquan Smith

The skinny: Smith is fast and physical. He showed noticeable improvement from last season to 2017. Smith is a former high school receiver and possesses high-end athletic traits, which carry him to more tackle opportunities than most linebackers see. His instincts are solid and he has the ability to cover some of the most athletic running backs in space. Smith's tackle production, speed and three-down talent make him one of the most talked about prospects in college football right now. He has a great opportunity to help himself even more against Baker Mayfield and Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1.

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The scoop: "I think he might be better than people are going to give him credit for. He was hurt all of last year and (Oregon) changed up the run scheme, which kept him between the tackles. With better blocking in front of him, I'm not so sure that he's not still that same kid we saw as a sophomore." -- AFC personnel director on Oregon RB Royce Freeman

The skinny: Freeman didn't accidentally become the rusher with the seventh-most yards in FBS history (5,621). I love his size and consistent production, but he will have to prove that he has the ability to create for himself while facing more defenders in the box than he was used to seeing at Oregon.

Freeman is less punishing as a runner than other backs his size (listed at 6-foot, 238 pounds) and some scouts question his ability to be anything more than a grinder at the next level. He's a big back with good instincts and footwork. He could easily find his way into a starter's role early in his NFL career.

Freeman will not play Saturday in Oregon's bowl game (Las Vegas Bowl vs. Boise State), but he has accepted an invitation to participate in the Reese's Senior Bowl.

Follow Lance Zierlein on Twitter @LanceZierlein.

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