Eagles first round draft choice Marcus Smith is a good player. No one is refuting that.
But was he good enough for the Eagles to value him with their first pick in the draft?
The Birds clearly knew they could step back a little bit, trading away their 22nd pick for the Browns’ 26th (and a third rounder to get their total picks to seven for the draft). So why didn’t they wait longer?
There were a lot of big names, buzz-worthy players and difference makers on the board when the Eagles made their pick. Like wideout Marqise Lee, or defensive backDarqueze Dennard.
But Chip Kelly decided a pass rusher, and an under-the-radar one at that, was the way to go.
“We think he’s an outstanding athlete. He actually got recruited to Louisville as a quarterback,” Kelly told reporters. “He’s got speed coming off the edge. We thought adding a pass rusher was a big thing for us … His ceiling is very, very high.”
It’s true, the newest Eagles, who they hope will dynamically and dramatically improve their defense, hasn’t even played defense very long.
“I haven’t played defense since Pop Warner, but I’m so happy to be playing outside linebacker,” Smith said at his introductory press conference Friday. “I didn’t have that [defensive] mentality. It took me a year-and-a-half to get it. I still had that quarterback sense of humor. The way I did things, it just wasn’t right for the defense. Once I got that killer instinct, I started to play really well. I didn’t like how I was playing quarterback at the time. Nothing I was doing was going right, and I felt maybe it was time for a change.”
Kelly went on to explain that six players the Eagles had targeted with their 22nd pick had left the board when they decided to make the trade, and target Smith with the 26th selection.
With an aging Trent Cole and the Eagles searching for perimeter pressure in the 3-4 defense, it could turn out that Smith was the perfect pick afterall.
And to boot, the Birds had their fewest draft picks in years, and the trade down netted them a third rounder.
Only time will tell, but one things appears to be clear, as aggressive as Kelly is on the football field, it appears he is content to be reserved and mysterious with his front-office decisions.