NFL Draft: Marcus Smith

Philadelphia Eagles draft wrap-up

May, 10, 2014
NFC wrap-ups: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

PHILADELPHIA -- A wrap-up of the Philadelphia Eagles' draft. Click here for a full list of Eagles draftees.

[+] Enlarge Jordan Matthews
Frederick Breedon/Getty ImagesThe Eagles traded up 12 spots to land Vanderbilt receiver Jordan Matthews.
Best move: Trading up 12 spots to select Vanderbilt wide receiver Jordan Matthews in the second round at No. 42 was brilliant. The Eagles were in need of a major upgrade at wide receiver, and they picked up a player who has speed and size. Matthews has the ability to catch the difficult pass across the middle, and he can run a deep route with ease. Without DeSean Jackson and Jason Avant, this was a position the Eagles had to monitor. Matthews left Vanderbilt as the SEC’s career leader in receptions (262) and yards (3,759). Look for him to make an immediate impact in the NFL. Matthews is joining a team that needs help at wide receiver. It’s the perfect fit.

Riskiest move: Drafting Louisville linebacker Marcus Smith with the No. 26 pick in the first round has to be questioned. This is a player the Eagles easily could have gotten in the second or even the third round. Smith registered 14.5 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss as a senior, but that was in the aftermath of a poor junior season with just four sacks. Pass-rushers are hard to find, but the Eagles could have filled another need and added Smith in the second round. Time will tell whether it was worth using a first-round pick.

Most surprising move: This is surprising in a good way here with the pick of Oregon wide receiver Josh Huff at No. 86. The Eagles took Matthews at No. 42 and could have used another big wideout. Huff is 5-foot-11, but he has speed, strength and toughness. Even though the Eagles had a major need at wide receiver, selecting them in consecutive picks was a bit surprising. Huff’s all-around talent, which includes a desire to thrive on special teams, had to be enticing for the Eagles. Returning kickoffs and punts became a problem area at the beginning of last season and didn’t get much better by the end. If Huff can adapt quickly to the NFL style, he’ll be quite valuable to the Eagles.

File it away: Taking Florida cornerback Jaylen Watkins with the first pick in the fourth round, No. 101 overall, was a solid move. Remember this pick down the road. The Eagles fielded a lot of calls from other teams but chose to keep the pick. With a major need at cornerback, this was the right move. Plus, Watkins played safety for two years at Florida, so his versatility will be an asset. Having players who can perform at multiple positions is a major bonus in the NFL. Watkins, who played with the Eagles’ Nate Allen in high school, has the speed (4.41 in the 40-yard dash) to be an effective cornerback. And he has the physical presence to be a solid safety. Allen has leadership skills and was named Florida’s captain midway through last season. Getting a player like this in the fourth round is a big-time positive.

Senior season boosts Marcus Smith

May, 9, 2014
PHILADELPHIA -- Louisville linebacker Marcus Smith wasn't projected by many experts to be selected in the first round of the NFL draft.

Even Smith knew why.

"Maybe because of my junior film," Smith said on a conference call.

Four sacks and 29 tackles were hardly eye-popping numbers. So Smith returned for his senior season and wound up with 14.5 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss, much-improved statistics.

It was more than that.

At 6-foot-3, 251 pounds, Smith got bigger, stronger and faster. And it resulted with the Philadelphia Eagles taking him with the No. 26 overall pick in the first round. They traded down four spots with the Cleveland Browns to grab Smith.

"I think with my ability, I can be a double-digit sack guy," Smith said. "Once I get into camp and get rolling, I think I can be a double-digit sack guy. I really do."

The Eagles may have rated Smith higher than others, but they're ecstatic with the selection.

"His ceiling is very, very high," Eagles coach Chip Kelly said. "We're excited. He's a tough, hard-nosed football player. New to the position. Similar to Lane Johnson, you're getting a guy who has a huge upside because he hasn't played the position very long."

Long before Kelly watched Smith play at Louisville's pro day, he saw him help Louisville dominate Temple at Lincoln Financial Field, also the home of the Eagles.

Smith eventually completed his Louisville career with 24 sacks but was projected in the second round or later in virtually every mock draft.

"All you need is one team to love you," Smith said. "I know the Eagles will take care of me and I'm happy to be a part of this great organization."

Eagles get Marcus Smith and add a pick

May, 9, 2014
PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Eagles traded down once. They didn't want to risk moving out of the first round, though.

The Eagles had Louisville linebacker Marcus Smith rated quite high on their board and were worried they wouldn't be able to grab him in the second round.

So they traded the No. 22 overall pick to the Cleveland Browns for the No. 26 spot and a third-round selection at No. 83. Adding a draft pick and the defensive player they coveted was too much to pass up.

Even if it meant ruining all the mock drafts.

"I haven't seen anybody's mock drafts, but if anybody predicted this one, they're all shaking their heads,” Eagles coach Chip Kelly said.

[+] EnlargeMarcus Smith
Jim Owens/Icon SMIMarcus Smith had 14.5 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss while with Louisville last season.
From the moment Kelly scouted Smith at Louisville's pro day, he was sold.

"He worked out at the pro day and I thought he did a really, really good job in person,” Kelly said. "I was impressed with his athleticism.”

Even though there were a number of wide receivers still on the board, such as USC's Marqise Lee and Florida State's Kelvin Benjamin, the Eagles went ahead and selected a versatile linebacker who has the ability to rush the passer.

The Eagles finished 20th in the league in sacks last season and Trent Cole led the way with eight. Adding Smith definitely upgrades this facet on defense.

Smith had 14.5 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss for the Cardinals last season.

"Long levers are strong levers,” Kelly said of Smith's arm length. "He fits the mold for what we're looking for. How many guys are that size, 250 pounds running a 4.6 range, having the long arms. We just thought he was a positive. This league is turning into a throwing league and you've got to be able to rush the quarterback.”

Smith managed just four sacks as a junior before his breakout senior season. Despite such a strong showing, even Smith was unsure whether he'd be selected so high.

"I feel like they really liked me, but I had no idea they [Eagles] were going to pick me,” Smith said on a conference call. "I'm overjoyed right now.”

So are the Eagles, who nabbed the player they wanted and added a third-round pick in the process.

"We thought it was big just because we wanted Marcus, and we felt like if we went back just enough we could get that extra pick,” Kelly said. "We don't know who that guy is, but last year that guy was Bennie Logan, so if you have a chance to go back just enough and still get the guy you want and get a Bennie-Logan type player, that's a great deal for us.”

Smith was actually recruited as a quarterback before switching to the defensive side. Fast forward to now and he's stoked about joining his new teammates with the Eagles.

"I haven't reached my full potential yet,” Smith said. "I think once I get around the right people, I'll be the great player that I want to be.”