Scouting Report: Marcus Smith, OLB/DE

Who is Marcus Smith? That was the burning question following the Eagles selection at pick 26. 

The Eagles had several defensive voids to fill, including pass rusher. By the Eagles initial pick at 22, both potential saftey selections were off the board. So was the best corner. So was Anthony Barr and C.J. Mosely

So the Eagles selected Smith as a pass rusher from the edge. 

In the 3-4 defense, Smith is a solid fit. He was initially projected to go late, a third or fourth-round selection. But his stock rose to become a possible early second-round selection. So while Smith was the fifth highest defensive end on the board at the time of his selection, it wasn't as much of a reach as it seemed.

Smith is an agile player and has very good pass rush ability. His 14.5 sacks were second in all of college football. He also posted 18.5 tackles for loss and forced four fumbles. Those numbers won't nearly be as high, considering the Eagles view him as a linebacker. That said, the way to improve a shaky pass defense is to pressure a quarterback, and Smith gives them that chance.

The biggest questions surrounding his game are run defense and the ability to play in reverse. As a pass rusher, he's an excellent pick. But pass coverage is a different animal and an area that Smith could struggle with. The ability to defend the run will also be crucial for the Eagles and they have to hope that the entire group of seven in the 3-4 play the correct role to protect against the pass while applying pressure.

One of Smith's strengths is good lateral movement and the ability to range across the field. That said, his athleticism, while good, is questioned at times. He needs to convert speed to power and also show better strength when at the line.

Part of the issue in evaluating the pick is that the Eagles plan to convert Smith back to the linebacker position instead of keeping him on the line. As a pass rushing linebacker, the Eagles picked with due diligence. In other defensive areas, they didn't.

That said, the Eagles grabbed the pass rusher that they wanted to obtain. And after Round 1, four wide receivers clearly on their radar are available going into Day 2, so that position is not nearly as dire.

Also consider that the Eagles addressed both safety and cornerback in free agency prior to the draft. Pass rush was a dire area of need for the Eagles, and rather than taking the best player available in Marqise Lee – another area of need for the Eagles – they stuck with defense, the ultimately need this offseason.

The Eagles decision was also clearly swayed by the Packers selection at 21. The Eagles had not traded yet, and the Packers selected Ha Ha Clinton-Dix with the 21st pick. If available at 22, it's hard to imagine the Eagles even making the trade or at least making it for just a third-round pick.

That said, the Eagles also passed over viable cornerback options Darqueze Dennard, Bradley Roby and Jason Verrett and safeties Jimmie Ward and Deone Bucannon

Ultimately, Smith is a player with upside that is to be determined. While he molds the rest of his game on pass defense and run defense, he will fit in immediately in the 3-4 as a pass rusher, a prime reason the Eagles felt the need to pull the trigger on this move.

Kevin Durso is a contributor for Eagledelphia. Follow him on twitter @KDursoPhilsNet.

Go to top button