The Philadelphia Eagles shocked the football world when with the 26th overall pick they selected Louisville defensive end/outside linebacker Marcus Smith. In all the mock drafts I had seen, and done, I had never seen Marcus Smith going in the first round let alone to the Eagles. Apparently Eagles head coach Chip Kelly had watched the Louisville product live on numerous occasions and had liked what he had seen. The numbers are incredible, with 14.5 sacks in 2013, if Marcus Smith can even get half of that production in his rookie season the Eagles pick will appear to be a success.
Smith was the last of the Eagles’ rookies to finally sign with the Eagles, putting an end to the draft season and a start to football. Smith inked a four year deal. The rookie having not expected to go in the first round was pleasantly surprised, even shocked when he found out he was a first round selection and could not wait to begin working with Chip Kelly. First he needed to make sure he got the most out of his contract so he can step onto the field with no regrets. It’s great that Marcus Smith will have no regrets having ironed out the final pieces of his contract, however, the more important question is, will the Eagles regret drafting Smith?
While Smith had fantastic numbers, his raw measurables from his pro day and the scouting combine were great but not exceptional. Exceptional tends to be what you want from a first round choice, Smith’s 4.68 40 yard dash time was great, but the number one over all selection, Houston Texans defensive end Jadeveon Clowney’s 4.53 is exceptional for a pass rusher. Obviously Clowney’s exceptional time is what led him to be selected number one overall and it would be nearly impossible to add someone of this caliber at the 26th pick which makes Smith a pretty good value.
Smith’s raw abilities are great, and his on field numbers are incredible. This makes me begin to wonder, why was Chip Kelly the only person in this world that thought, this guy deserves to go in the first round. Well, to start, Smith has issue stopping the run. He is a very raw pass rusher, as only recently did it become his true position. His size and lack of length allows him to be shut down by bigger linemen. He is definitely a work in progress.
That being said, he is perfect for Chip Kelly. Not only is he good at rushing the passer, but he has experience as a special teams player and he has caught two point conversions throughout his career. This shows his versatility which I continuously say is one of Kelly’s valued traits. On top of that the Eagles drafted Oregon product, defensive end Taylor Hart, who is very talented at stopping the run and less so at rushing the passer. This means that Marcus Smith should play on passing downs and should cycle out on rushing downs with fellow rookie Taylor Hart.
This year should be interesting for the Eagles defense, but I think that Chip Kelly can pull it off. Marcus Smith will not be a bust, the thing that makes Smith different is that he may not get the production you hope for in a first round selection in his rookie season. But that shouldn’t be an issue.