Eagles OLB Marcus Smith
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.
Fit with the Eagles:
The problem is Cole turns 32 in October and he is not the long-term solution to the Eagles outside linebacker issues. Graham and Curry had up-and-down seasons with Curry registering four sacks but did not see consistent playing time. Neither of them showed elite outside linebacker pass-rushing ability last season.
The selection of Smith immediately addresses a position of need for the Eagles. If there's one thing Smith does well it is rush the passer. He is not flawless in the pass-rush and can improve in the run game and in coverage. Some believe he was a bit of a reach at 26th overall but his stock approaching the draft was rising and general manager Howie Roseman did not believe he would be available when the Eagles selected at 54th overall.
Head coach Chip Kelly was high on Smith as he personally attended Smith's Pro Day at Louisville, had him in for an interview and Smith was a top recruit out of high school which the Eagles hold in higher regard than other teams.
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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