Nov 8, 2013; East Hartford, CT, USA; Louisville Cardinals defensive end Marcus Smith (91) sacks Connecticut Huskies quarterback Tim Boyle (14) in the second half at Rentschler Field. Louisville defeated UConn 31-10. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Marcus Smith Scouting Report

The Eagles schocked their fans when they announced Marcus Smith would be their first round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.

Miami QB Stephen Morris (17) is chased by Louisville LB Marcus Smith (91) during the Russell Athletic Bowl. Credit: David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Eagles picked linebacker Marcus Smith in the first round. Get to know the pros and cons of his game.


The Philadelphia Eagles shook the NFL world when they named Marcus Smith, an edge rusher from University of Louisville , their first-round pick. But as Ray Farmer, the Cleveland Browns’ general manager said “once you draft them, nobody cares when they were picked”. Smith is now an Eagles and all that matters is what he brings to the table and not when he was selected.

I spent a couple of days watching Louisville games from the 2013 FBS season. Overall, Smith has good size for a 3-4 outside linebacker and has very long arms that help him can keep blockers from locking him up. He played in both sides of the defensive front.

Smith is a passionate player who has a very good motor and light feet. On the other hand, he needs to add some muscle and increase his strength.

As a pass rusher, Smith does a better job when rushing from the inside. He usually lines up wide, but is more efficient when he changes direction and tries to beat blockers from the inside.

Despite some rare bull rushing incidents, it was obvious that Smith lacked strength. Most of the times he won with speed and not by overpowering his opponents. In the NFL, Smith will struggle against strong and athletic offensive tackles.

He has an inconsistent first step and he loses his battle when he is not the first one to fire off the ball. On the other hand, he has an excellent spin move that he likes to use to get to the inside when he can’t win the edge.

When Smith gets to the quarterback, he always aims for the ball and has shown the ability to cause fumbles and knock down passes.

It wasn’t only his aggresiveness that didn’t help Smith. He showed little to no recognition skills and he is not fast enough to chase rushers once they get past him.

Smith is willing to contribute in coverage, but unfortunately he lacks awareness when droppings back. He wasn’t asked to play man coverage often and at times he looked like a fish out of the water. He has the physical tools to cover tight ends, but needs to work a lot to be able to do that at the next level.

Has the physical tools to cover tight ends, but needs to work a lot to do that.

One last thing I’d like to add about Smith’s performance in college is that he made a number of plays because he was left unblocked. It’s highly doubtful that he will get that kind of opportunities often at the next level.

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Tags: 2014 NFL Draft Marcus Smith Philadelphia Eagles Scouting Report

  • John Down

    Very good analysis of weaknesses. Just a couple of questions: do all the positives outweigh these seemingly hefty weaknesses? And secondly, don’t they already have a player who has some of the same weaknesses and who was an awful reach a few years ago, in Brandon Graham? The Eagles don’t just need an edge rusher. They also need an OLB who can cover at the NFL level. Right now, only Connor Barwin can do that consistently among the four LB’s. It was a huge weakness – see Pro Football Focus for game-to-game and season analysis. Shouldn’t the first round selection be NFL-ready? Everything the Philly media in general writes, and even Chip Kelly alludes to, is that this guy is not quite ready for prime time. Maybe next year. I call that a “reach.”

  • Giorgos Kassakos

    Thank you, John.

    Smith is an interesting case. I think that the negatives outweigh the positives at the moment and I agree that the Eagles reached for him. Smith does many things right and many things wrong. Can he improve? Yes, he can if he gets coached right and he puts in the necessary amount of work.

    I believe the Eagles loved his potential and his versatility (can play both sides, standing or 3-point stance). And he is great at finishing the job when he gets to the quarterback. But he needs to be better against the run and in coverage.

    Can’t really tell about Graham, I haven’t watched him as a college player.

    At the moment, Smith is more of a rotational player, a 3rd-down guy. I hope he proves me wrong during the season. If the Eagles manage to confuse offenses and he goes unblocked at times, he will definitely do his thing.