It has been over a week now since the Eagles made their second first-round selection of the Chip Kelly era. The pick, linebacker Marcus Smith out of Louisville, brought a generally negative response from the fanbase and left many unimpressed with the team’s haul in the opening round. Even later on that evening and into the weekend, when more knowledge about Smith became accessible, there was a sense of disappointment considering the types of players the Eagles were apparently targeting and missed out on. Now, not even eight full days since the selection, it is becoming evident that the Eagles were not the only team coveting Smith’s services but apparently the notion that he did not warrant first round consideration was off-base.
Marcus Smith said he heard the Cardinals would have taken him if the Eagles hadn’t. (Cardinals picked 27th after trading back from 20.)
— Jimmy Kempski (@JimmyKempski) May 16, 2014
Along with the rest of the Eagles 2014 Draft class, Smith appeared in front of the media Friday to shed light on their first week with the organization and how they see their fit moving forward. In a little over a week now, reports have surfaced linking the Washington Redskins and now the Cardinals to Smith. The Redskins, picking 34th overall before trading back after Smith was drafted, would have been the 2nd pick of the 2nd round and essentially a first round selection. While there is plenty of coach and GM-speak that takes place after the draft, it is not surprising that a player with Smith’s measurables and high ceiling would not have piqued team’s interest towards the end of the first round.
Though there is little doubt that Smith will see the field in some capacity in 2014, the Eagles apparent strategy of drafting with the future in mind could not have been clearer with their first round selection. Unless there are significant changes, the Eagles will probably be fielding a very similar group of pass-rushers next season and Smith will have less pressure to step in and make an immediate impact like a player of Khalil Mack or Anthony Barr’s status might. Andy Benoit of MMQB’s take painted a pretty accurate picture of what is in front of the Louisville product as he enters his first season.
“It’s hard to see where Marcus Smith fits up front. Yes, soon-to-be 32-year-old Trent Cole might play fewer snaps going forward, but that’s where former first-rounder Brandon Graham comes in. And, though he’s more of a down lineman, 2012 second-rounder Vinny Curry has the explosive first step to be a part-time standup rusher. Smith’s role this fall could be to back up Connor Barwin, which means the Eagles would be getting less than 10 meaningful snaps per game from their first-rounder.”
All of this doesn’t put HaHa Clinton-Dix or Kyle Fuller on the roster, but it helps from letting a first round selection continue to be a matter of debate.