When the Chicago Bears picked Roquan Smith eighth overall in the 2018 NFL Draft, it was a major step toward re-establishing the franchise's dominant defenses of the past.

"Trying to continue the tradition of great linebackers," Smith said of his goal.

The rookie starts at middle linebacker for the Bears, the vaunted position previously manned by legends like Brian Urlacher, Mike Singletary and Dick Butkus. But it also connected Smith to a legacy of Georgia Bulldogs at the linebacker position.

Smith joins outside linebacker and former Bulldog, Leonard Floyd, the ninth overall pick in 2016, as starters on the Bears' 3-4 defense.

"It was definitely nice, bringing back old times," Smith told ThePostGame, "just getting out there and playing like how we know how to play, which is fast and physical."

Roquan Smith

The linebackers not only played at Georgia, but both hail from towns about an hour apart in the southern part of Georgia. Smith is from Montezuma, and Floyd is from Eastman.

As soon as the Bears selected Smith, Floyd, who lobbied the Bears to draft him, texted the new middle linebacker. And Floyd tried to eat lunch with the rookie every day during team activities.

Though drafted two years apart, they played together on the 2015 Georgia squad. As a true freshman on Mark Richt's final team, Smith played 12 games and had 20 tackles. Floyd had 72 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks on that 10-3 squad, which won the TaxSlayer Bowl against Penn State.

Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio moves his linebackers around, but Floyd, an edge rusher, and Smith sometimes line up next to each other.

The last first-round pick to sign, Smith -- in part because of the missed practice time -- injured his hamstring. After subbing in during Week 1, he has started the past three games while recording 15 tackles.

"I definitely feel great, definitely feel back to myself," Smith said. "Once you get that game experience, that definitely boosts your confidence, and I feel a whole lot better for sure."

Heading into the 2018 season, Khalil Mack, the final addition to the Bears' linebacker corps, also lacked game experience with his new team. He missed practice time after holding out over a contract dispute with the Oakland Raiders, which led to his trade to the Bears.

With Mack, Smith and Floyd together, the Bears are creating a modern-day version of the Monsters of the Midway defense while leading the NFC North with a 3-1 record.

"Everybody's playing fast. They're playing relentless," head coach Matt Nagy said. "They're playing aggressive. It's controlled chaos. And I just love it."

The Bears led the NFL in sacks with 14, heading into Week 4 and added four more to that tally during a 48-10 stomping of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

And the linebackers are just starting to jell. Both Smith and Mack are learning the defense while getting into game shape.

"We're getting better every week," Mack said.

And Floyd, like his former Georgia teammate, is getting over an injury. Floyd fractured his right hand during a preseason game, requiring surgery. Even though he started every game, he wore a club to protect it during the season's first couple games.

Asked for his prognostication on No. 2 ranked Georgia, which narrowly lost to Alabama last year in the epic overtime College Football Playoff championship in which Smith had 13 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss, Smith declined.

"No predictions," he said. "I want them to win it all, though."

But Danny Trevathan, Smith's Bears inside linebacker mate and a former SEC player who has his locker next to the rookie, chimed in.

"[Better] worry about Kentucky," Trevathan said.

And on the pro level, NFC North offenses better worry about those Bears linebackers.

Follow Jeff Fedotin on Twitter @JFedotin.