FanPost

Defensive Evolution (Marcus Smith)

Hi there Mr./Mrs. reader!. I'm new to this fanpost thing so I'll try to keep it brief, and hopefully this isn't just regurgitation of the obvious. I've follwed BGN for quite awhile, and comment sporadically when the spirit moves me. But before I get into my spiel I just wanna thank you guys for the work you do here. That includes admins, other fans, commentators. Nobody is perfect, but you all definitely maked this one of the better sports blogs on SB Nation.

Ok, enough ass-kissing. I've seen a lot of comments, here and on other sites, expressing confusion or worse over OLB and 1st round pick Marcus Smith. I'm not a "draft guru"; I don't do mock drafts and I don't pour over tape (though I do watch a little). So I'm not going to touch on whether Smith was a "reach" pick or "good value" at 26. Honestly, I think that the NFL draft has become largely subjective due to the variety and depth of schemes. What's good for say, the Bengals, is not necessarily a good move for the Eagles, obviously. While some prospects transcend scheme (Clowney), even the best athletes are subject to their history. Dion Jordan is a prime example. Mike Vick is another. GMs are just starting to catch on to the idea that even 1st round players are not one-size-fits-all. With a program like the one Kelly runs, this idea of a "personalized" draft is even more paramount. In fact, it's essential. Seattle, New England, and the Steelers all conduct similar draft strategies. Consequently, they are also accused of "reaching" a lot.

That's a long-winded way of saying that regardless of whether Smith was a reach or not, if one focuses on what he brings to this team, you can't help but be excited. This is EXACTLY the kind of guy Bill Davis wants. And yep, as mentioned ad infinitum, it's because of his....versatility. While this sounds all well and good, I think a lot of folks have kinda missed the meaning of that word. No, Smith will not come in and blow through double-teams and left tackles and eat up QBs like Ware does or (uh-oh) Jason Babin. But you know who might do that a bit more? Conner Barwin. Trent Cole. The DL, safeties, ILBs and corners.

Why? SURPRISE! Exactly what Davis's defense it predicated upon. The one thing that flusters a Tom Brady and destroys a Manning if done correctly. Marcus Smith's ability to cover and play multiple positions, combined with potential pass-rushing skills, blows the top off of our LB scheme, though not in the way most think.

Look at it this way: Connor Barwin had 11 sacks in 2011. Dude can rush the passer. Then why hasn't he done that since? Because he needed to drop back. Barwin even said himself (I can find you the quote if you really wanna dispute it; somewhere on Kapadia/MacManus site) that he was asked to drop back alot in 2012. And of course he did the same last year for us. Trent Cole wasn't dropping much. BG, forget it. That leaves you with Casey Matthews. Yeah.

But good news! We drafted an almost exact Barwin clone, only he was slightly better in college. Smith can (hopefully) learn under Barwin for a year and rotate in. If successful, he will give us 2 OLBs on the field at the same time who could drop or rush at any given time, and at the very least are serviceable at both. This essentially allows Davis to play mix and match, as well as drawing attention away from Ryans, Kendricks, the Dline, and Cole when he's in there. It also allows us to swap Barwin out without a serious drop-off in talent. I happen to believe he (Barwin) would vastly benefit from reduced touches, and allowing him to rush the passer more would likely have a positive effect on our sack/hurry numbers. Think of it this way: we can now truly rush from just about every position on the field.

So while you may think Smith is a reach at 26, look at it this way. His abilities may not make him worthy of that pick alone, but the effect he brings to the Eagles defense almost certainly does. And I think that is the essence of a good pick: not only does Marcus Smith seem to be a promising young player, but his abilities help to expand and open up opportunities for the rest of the guys out there. The Eagles should be a better defensive unit because of this pick, and that makes it worth the reach in my eyes.

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