Eagles Impressed By the Upside of Marcus SmithBREAKING NEWS, Eagles, Linebackers, News Friday, May 9th, 2014
I was surprised by the Eagles decision to trade down from the 22nd spot in the first round to the 26th spot, but it proved to be valuable move because they picked up a third round draft pick in this draft, which is supposed to be very deep. The Cleveland Browns, who had already made a selection in the first round, were anxious to move up and get the quarterback they wanted, Johnny Manziel.
In that 26th spot the Birds grabbed Louisville outside linebacker, Marcus Smith, who registered 14 1/2 sacks in the 2013 season. Quite a few talent evaluators, including Mike Mayock of the NFL Network had Smith rated as a second-round prospect.
I was surprised to say the least, but I expected the Birds to address their defense in the first round, then come back in the second round and select a wide receiver, in what is considered a great draft for wide receivers. The drafting of Smith was a surprise to everyone including the youngster himself.
“I had a feeling that I would, but I didn’t know exactly,” Smith said in a conference call after he was selected. “I thought that maybe I was looking at early second, maybe even the third round. But I’m just so happy the Eagles took a chance on me.”
The youngster who was recruited as a quarterback, had played with his hand down for most of his career in Louisville, then blossomed a year ago in his first season in the 3-4 system. He’s 6’3″ and weighs 251 pounds. They’re going to have him start out backing up Trent Cole and Connor Barwin at the outside linebacker spot. He’s likely to replace Cole, who will turn 32 years of age later this year.
“We thought adding a pass rusher was a big thing for us – a young kid to bring in behind Trent and Connor,” Kelly said in news conference after the selection. “Those guys can teach him the ropes and bring him along and show him what we can do. I think his ceiling is very, very high.”
The young passer rusher has exceptional arm length, which is very important in a pass rusher. It’s like boxing, the advantage in the battle usually goes to the player, who can make contact with his opponent before his opponent can make contact with him.
“Long levers are strong levers”, Kelly said in talking about Smith’s 34 inch arms.
Khalil Mack and Anthony Barr were rated ahead of Smith as a pass rusher, but Smith things he on his way to being at the same level.. Mack from the University of Buffalo went as the fifth pick to the Raiders and UCLA’s Barr went in the ninth spot to Minnesota.
“I’m pretty much the same as those guys,” he said. “I can rush the passer and drop into coverage. I feel like I’m very athletic. I feel like I could have gone where those guys went as far as my talent goes, but I know how the draft goes. All you’ve got to do is get one team to love you, and I know the Eagles will take care of me.
“Khalil Mack and Anthony Barr are great players. I watched them on film a lot and some things they do I tried to take from them so I could add them to my game.”
Smith will be judged by how he does in comparison to the other pass rushers, who are selected in this year’s draft. The first pick of the draft Jadaveon Clowney went first to Texas then, Mack, Barr and eventually Smith in the 26th spot. Kelly and his scouts see tremendous upside in Smith, has only played the outside linebacker position for a single season. Smith didn’t think he played well in the 2012 season and that’s the reason he believed teams didn’t have him rated as high as the Eagles.
“I don’t think I reached my full potential yet”, Smith said last night on a conference call. “I continually work every day and I know I have a lot of stuff to polish up and I know I have a lot of stuff to work on. I think once I’m in the league long enough and once I’m around the right people, especially on the Eagles that can teach me the things that I need to know, I think I’ll be the great player that I want to be.”
“I know for a fact they want me to rush and go get the quarterback. I can be a double-digit sack guy. Once I get into camp and get rolling and get into the groove, I really believe I can be that guy. I really do.”
Double-digit sack totals from Smith will do it for the Birds. We’ll all be watching and comparing him to the other pass rushers selected ahead of him and after him.
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