Ray Lewis was recently asked to name his top four linebackers in the NFL today, and he mentioned fellow Baltimore Raven Roquan Smith at the top of his list alongside San Francisco 49ers’ Fred Warner, Seattle Seahawks’ Bobby Wagner, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Devin White, or “one of them boys in Tampa” via Greg Auman of FOX.
With just four votes overall, Roquan Smith was never the frontrunner to win the NFL Defensive Player of the Year title this season. However, receiving a vote of confidence from someone like Lewis will undoubtedly give him a lot of confidence going into the 2024 season.
Ray Lewis is Roquan Smith’s NFL idol
In his 17-year career, Lewis was a two-time Super Bowl champion, a Super Bowl MVP, a two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, a 13-time Pro Bowler, and was voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2018.
So, upon arriving from Chicago last season, Roquan Smith said that he has the “utmost respect” for Ray Lewis since the Hall of Famer set the standard for the Baltimore Ravens.
“I have the utmost respect for Ray Lewis and everything he’s done for this organization and the linebacker position in general in this game,” said Smith. “I think he’s the greatest to ever do it.”
“I just remember, even as a kid, well before I knew I was going to ever play for the Ravens, being able to just watch his hype videos, his speeches, and things like that, he always inspired me,” he added.
Roquan Smith’s 2023 season with the Baltimore Ravens
Roquan Smith channeled his inner Ray Lewis in his first full season with the Baltimore Ravens, as he led the team with 158 tackles (84 solo), five tackles for loss, five quarterback hits, 1.5 sacks, eight passes defended, one interception, and one forced fumble, making them the sixth-best team in the league in terms of total defense.
With Smith’s help, the Baltimore Ravens finished on top of the AFC North with a 13-4 record, but they eventually lost to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship game.
Roquan Smith is currently the highest-paid linebacker in the league after he signed a five-year, $100 million extension with the Baltimore Ravens in January 2023.