Eagles head coach Chip Kelly has been consistent in his approach to everything involving the Eagles since he arrived in Philadelphia in January 2013. From his offense to fitness to nutrition to personalities in the locker room, Kelly remains committed to his way of doing things.
One thing Kelly believes in is treating rookies the same way as veterans are treated. "“We try to accept everyone when they first come in here," Kelly told Peter King of Monday Morning Quarterback. "We’ve never had a rookie show… We try to be very accepting when young guys come in here and welcome them to what we’re doing."
As part of his down-to-earth, realistic view on the game of football, Kelly discussed predictions for rookie players and, in particular, high draft picks. "“No one knows," Kelly told King. "I don’t know. I don’t know anybody that does know. I was asked after the draft, ‘Give yourself a grade.’ I was like, ‘I have absolutely no idea.’ But it’s the truth! No one knows. I’ve said it all along."
That's good news for Marcus Smith, who is not expected to be a starter as a rookie. Eagles defensive coordinator Billy Davis discussed Smith's expectations during training camp.
"Like all the rookies I've had my whole career, they come at their own pace," Davis told Les Bowen of The Philadelphia Daily News. "We give them every opportunity, to teach and grow them. Every rookie is different."
On Monday, Smith ran with the second-team defense in the Eagles open practice at Lincoln Financial Field.
Smith has the body the prototypical pass-rusher in the 3-4 base defense. He stands at 6'3", 251 lbs. with top-end speed for a guy his size running a 4.68 40-yard dash. One thing that is apparent on film is Smith's ability to get his hands up and bat down passes at the line of scrimmage and in the backfield. His 34" arms make it easy to get his hands up.
Up until 2010, Smith was a quarterback before making the switch to linebacker but, beginning in 2011, Smith played primarily at defensive end. He projects well as a 3-4 outside linebacker as much of his time spent with the Cardinals was at a hybrid-defensive end position because he flashed the ability to drop in coverage and rush off the edge without having his hand in the dirt.
Smith can get after the quarterback using his speed and has a quick first step which worked in college to get around linemen. He employs a strong spin move and often times keeps opponents off balance. Smith uses his hands well but can improve in that area.
The 22-year-old possesses the ability to use his hands to flash from the outside to the inside when the edge is sealed off. His scouting report from Scouts Inc. reads, "he has active hands and can quickly work back inside when offensive tackles take away the edge." That's interesting as 49ers All-Pro outside linebacker Aldon Smith's scouting report from Scouts Inc. in 2011 read, "he also has above-average athletic ability and can redirect inside after starting outside."
The similarities between Marcus and Aldon Smith do not end there. Marcus is 6'3", 251 lbs. with a 4.68 40-yard dash while Aldon was 6'4", 263 lbs. with a 4.74 40-yard dash time at his NFL Combine in 2011. It should be noted Aldon Smith was much more polished and highly-touted when selected by San Francisco in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft but they do have some similarities.
Marcus Smith can move well laterally which helps him in the run game. He struggles shaking blocks at times and can sometimes lose leverage by not staying low. Smith gets away with some deficiencies because he has a strong upper-body for a player his size.
Simply put, Smith is at his best when he is free to rush the passer. He is as tough as they come but is not overly aggressive which could be viewed as a negative but it's also a positive as he doesn't take after-the-whistle penalties. Smith works hard in the weight room and employs a first-in, last-out mentality off the field.
Smith is a bit of a project now as he needs to improve becoming an all-around player but he can get after the quarterback and that is exactly what the Eagles need heading into the 2014 season.
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