With their first round selection in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Philadelphia Eagles made a controversial selection by taking Louisville’s Marcus Smith who many projected to go in the second or even third round. The Eagles took the project player in the first round, and have yet to see first round talent in the preseason.
The truth is Marcus Smith is struggling and has had a sub par preseason that didn’t change last night against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Throughout the preseason he has spent time splitting reps with the first, second and third teams. For a project player this is a good way to get him acclimated to the NFL, however, the first round talent isn’t necessarily shining against the lower level players.
Throughout the preseason, Smith is graded as the worst overall 3-4 outside linebacker on Pro Football Focus. Even looking at his rating for what the Eagles brought him in for, pass rushing, he has the worst rating. Smith does have the third most tackles among 3-4 outside linebackers with seven, but then again, he also has the most snaps.
We knew Marcus Smith was going to have plenty of bumps in the road, especially in his rookie season, but when does it turn into a cause for concern that the NFL is just too much for him?
Not many edge rushers come in on Day 1 and are productive, let alone dominate. The same can be said about Smith, but you have to think the Eagles at least expected their first round project to come in and contribute in some way, and right now, they aren’t even sure if he is going to be able to do that.
Eagles general manager, Howie Roseman, took a risk on Smith in the first round. Smith played quarterback in high school and didn’t play 3-4 outside linebacker until his senior season at Louisville. The Eagles knew this kid was going to be a project, but is he going to be too much of a project?
Had Smith been drafted where he was projected, the second or third round, he wouldn’t have this big of a microscope on him. But because he is first round prospect, he needs to step up to the plate.
The bottom line is, Smith is only three games into his NFL career, but right now, things don’t look promising, the game is simply moving too fast for him. What the Eagles need on defense is a difference maker, and Marcus Smith has yet to show that he can be that difference maker.
Don’t get me wrong, this kid has a lot of potential to be that hybrid player that the Eagles wanted, but that’s all it is, potential. Eagles head coach, Chip Kelly, is a no-nonsense type of guy, and most likely “doesn’t care” about potential, he cares about results, and right now, Marcus Smith isn’t putting up results.