Introduction to Marcus Smith
Think he's an outstanding athlete. He actually got recruited to Louisville as a quarterback. [Louisville head coach Charlie] Strong had seen him in a football camp, and he went to Louisville. I talked to Charlie the other week about him and he just gave us rave reviews. He's a big kid. He transitioned to the outside linebacker position. I think he has a huge upside. He's a very, very good athlete. He's over 6'3", in the 250, 255 pound range, ran 4.68, He's got speed coming off the edge. We thought adding a pass rusher was a big thing for us.
I think a young kid to bring in behind Trent [Cole] and Connor [Barwin] and those guys can teach him the ropes and bring him along and show him what we can do. But I think his ceiling is very, very high. We're excited. He's a tough, hard‑nosed football player. A little bit new to the position. Maybe a similar situation to Lane [Johnson] in terms of you're getting a guy that is a huge upside because he hasn't played the position that long. They played multiple defenses there. He's played with his hand on the ground, he's played standing up. He can drop into coverage, he can rush the quarterback. We're excited about adding him. The fact that we could move back a little bit and pick up another pick because we were short in what we think is a good draft, we felt is a great situation for us.
Was Marcus Smith new on Chip Kelly's radar?
No, he's been there for a while. Our personnel staff does a great job. So we obviously have a great system that those guys have in place, so we were aware of him last year when our guys were out eyeballing the next draft class. So he's a guy that our guys saw in the spring time and followed up, watched him play in person. He actually played a game over here against Temple. So I got a chance to go over there and just see those guys in warm‑ups. They had three players that I think were going to be highly picked. [S Calvin] Pryor, Marcus, [QB] Teddy Bridgewater. So they've done a great job. It's been one of the top programs in the country the last couple of years. And I know their head coach personally. Charlie [Strong] will do a hell of a job at Texas, and he's just a tough, hard‑nosed football coach. So when someone like him gives the stamp of approval, that's something I take very seriously.
On Smith's long arms (34 inches)
Long levers are strong levers. You know our motto on that. Again, he fits the mold for what we're looking for. I think kind of that ceiling I talked about, because there is such an upside to him. How many guys are that size, 250‑plus pounds, running the 4.6 range, have the long arms. I think we just thought it was a positive, and obviously this league is turning into a throwing league, and you've got to be able to rush the quarterback and we're aware of that. You know, we were excited when we had the opportunity not only to get him but to back up. I think it was a positive for us.
Will Marcus Smith be an instant starter?
I can't answer that question. Lane started behind those guys when he first got here, and as he kept practicing, we moved him up. So he'll get every opportunity to show us. With the amount of reps you've seen that we get, he's going to get a ton of reps between now and when we get rolling. So we'll just see how that plays out. There is competition. You don't know about injuries, so you're not sure. The other positive with him is he's already graduated, so he's got no restrictions. He'll be here Monday and jump right into the offseason program with us on Monday.
Experience in a multiple defense
Louisville played a multiple defense. They played a 4-3 one year and moved to a 3-4, so he's done both. There is film of him playing defensive end and film of him playing as a standup outside linebacker. It's not a projection like you do sometimes. Hey, let's take this defensive end who may be a little undersized to be an NFL defensive end, but he has the skill set to be an outside linebacker. He's actually played the position.