According to a report from Alex Marvez of FOX Sports, the Philadelphia Eagles are scheduled to meet with Louisville outside linebacker Marcus Smith for a pre-draft visit. This isn't the first time the Eagles have shown interest in him. Eagles head coach Chip Kelly personally attended Louisville's pro day and was seen speaking with Smith (photographic evidence!).
Smith measures in at 6-3, 251 lbs. The 22-year-old Louisville senior finished with his college career with a total of 83 tackles, 32 tackles for loss, 24 sacks, 1 interception, 5 passes defensed, and 8 forced fumbles.
Smith could be an Eagles target on Day 2 of the draft. The Eagles need a pass rusher but there just might not be one available who makes sense at No. 22. So how long will Smith last on the board? NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah says Smith could be gone as soon as pick No. 35. The Eagles pick at 54 in the second round. Here's Smith's scouting report via BGN's Mike Kaye:
Smith is a natural athlete with solid size at over 6-foot-3 (measured in at the Senior Bowl at 6'3 1/2) and 258-pounds. He has an NFL body with long arms (80 1/4 inch wingspan) and a 4.7 forty-time speed (according to Scout.com). On tape, he shows a good ability to wrap up on tackles and clear speed off the edge. He is the type of player that can line up pretty much anywhere in the front seven (outside of nose tackle in a 3-4) and be successful. He has experience blitzing from the inside linebacker position as well as rushing from the outside with his hand down or in a two-point stance. He literally can rush from anywhere.
Smith constantly gets pressure and if he gets his hands on a quarterback, the play will almost definitely end with a sack. Much like Ford, Smith uses his speed to run around defenders which allows him to get away with not being much of a technician. He ranges from average to above average in coverage for a player that has pretty limited experience playing in space. He has no issue with the physical part of playing coverage.
As mentioned above, Smith's speed is likely what helped him excel the most in college. He is not much of a hand technician yet and lacks obvious strength. That does not mean he can't win with either at this moment, it is just that he doesn't consistently win with those approaches. He prefers to run by guys as oppose to engage and shed. In coverage, Smith seems to lose his man at times. He is not great in coverage on tape, but he can do it.
Another issue for Smith is that while he played four seasons, his only major year came as a senior. In 2013, he had five games of multiple sacks and five without any quarterback take downs. He got his sacks in bunches which may have been due to lining up against a poor player at left tackle or a bad offensive line. For instance, he had three sacks against Rutgers and 2.5 against Connecticut. He had another two against Miami in a game that saw Hurricanes quarterback Stephen Morris hold onto the ball like it was his child (i.e. he held the ball way too long and his offensive line under-performed). Smith does have the one-hit wonder feel, but luckily has experience as well.
He would probably more comfortable initially as a 4-3 defensive end, but his talent really fits a 3-4 outside linebacker, which means he will have to learn a new position in the NFL. That may mean that teams have to slowly ease him into the position as a rookie.
Lastly, a look at Smith's spider graph. As you can see, he is not listed against other outside linebackers, which is where he would play for the Eagles. Oddly enough, former Eagles defensive ends Jerome McDougle and Ricky Sapp are listed as similar players...