Former Coach Chip Kelly selected Marcus Smith in the first round in 2014, but as 2017 approaches, his roster spot may not be safe.
There was a time when both scouts and fans were optimistic about the future of defensive end Marcus Smith. Smith, who was a third-team NCAA All-American in 2013, has yet to crack the starting lineup for the Philadelphia Eagles. Truthfully, Smith’s roster spot could be in jeopardy due to the signing of Chris Long. At the same time, Brandon Graham’s emergence as one of the league’s premier players along the edge makes it clear that Smith needs to impress his coaches and do so quickly. He’s entering his fourth season, but he’ll be in serious competition with Steven Means and Vinny Curry during the offseason.
Tick, tick, tick….
The clock is ticking. Typically within a first-rounders rookie season, their performance is sometimes unfairly measured and appropriated. It may be a little different with quarterbacks, but players at every position feel the pressure. Guys like J.J. Watt and Aaron Donald have shown how quickly newcomers can succeed in the NFL. Then again, Graham took his sweet time developing, but you could also argue that schematic changes heavily influenced his development. For this reason, it’s easy to see there’s still hope for Smith. Maybe, in year four, he’ll vault into a crucial role as a situational player.
Smith achieved the adoration of the fans during last year’s preseason. He thrived when he was given an opportunity. You have to believe his role and contribution to the team can only grow. Look at it this way. Curry disappeared in 2016 despite the extension he signed a year ago (5 years, $45-plus million). Smith may have some time, but tension, expectations and competition will only continue to grow as the Eagles push towards their goals of securing a division title and their aspirations for a championship.
What the numbers say:
In three seasons of play, Smith has accrued a grand total of four sacks. No, we don’t mean each season or in one season. We mean cumulatively. You can’t bring that up without mentioning the fact that the former Louisville Cardinals standout has accumulated 12 tackles in three seasons. These numbers seem to suggest Smith’s employment status is in jeopardy. Unfortunately for him, that places even more pressure on him to show and prove during the offseason.
Smith isn’t just contending with the current defensive ends on the roster. The Eagles have been active in meeting with prospects in preparation for the upcoming draft. Included in their scouting and interviews have been defensive ends that the team could likely select in the mid to later rounds.
Moving forward, Smith still controls his own destiny with the team. If the former college standout takes a major step and becomes a consistent, reliable contributor he could win or be in competition for a starting position a year from now. If the last three years are any real indication, don’t be surprised if the former 26th-overall selection isn’t on the roster when we make our way into September.