Eagles fans and media were a bit confused and annoyed by the team's selection of Louisville pass rusher Marcus Smith on Thursday night. The NFL Draft had been a whirlwind to begin with as Johnny Manziel made it all the way to No. 22 and the Eagles decided to trade back four spots and acquire an additional third round pick.
The trade back move was brilliant. In one negotiation, Howie Roseman and Chip Kelly proved the national media wrong again and then swiftly added a seventh pick to their total. The Eagles lost out on Dee Ford, Darqueze Dennard and Jason Verrett, but got a player that fits their model for success pretty well.
Smith is long, tall and athletic with a knack for getting to the quarterback. He may have been projected as a second round pick (even by your's truly), but every year similarly-graded players get taken in the late-first round. Smith (to them) was likely the best of the remaining pass rushers and while folks were angry over passing on Marqise Lee, he is still available in the second round. The Jets, 49ers, Ravens, Steelers and more all passed on wide receivers, despite heavy needs. Maybe the Eagles, like everyone else, just trust the depth of the position in the class.
Smith was second in the nation last season with 14.5 sacks. Rushing the passer was the Eagles defense's biggest issue last year and the position was clearly a need. Smith could start relatively early in his rookie season as he showed quality coverage ability at the Senior Bowl. Keep in mind, that outside of Jadeveon Clowney and Khalil Mack, there were few immediate three-down pass rushers in this class. It was the definition of "top heavy."
Also, it is constantly brought up that the Eagles needed a pass rusher, needed more picks and like length and athleticism. The Eagles made moves on Thursday that took care of all three needs. The draft isn't over and the Eagles will address wide receiver at some point, but until then, remember the success that Roseman has had over the last two seasons. Smith will be the successor to Trent Cole, which was a heavy need. The third round pick will allow the Eagles to potentially add another starter or traded up in the 2nd round to take a first round-worthy play-maker. There are clearly more gifts under the tree.
Stay calm. There is plenty of talent remaining in this three-day process.