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Nolan Smith on playing for the Eagles: ‘I’m here with three of my best friends’

Jalen Carter and Nolan Smith have landed in Philly are ready to get to work.

Syndication: Online Athens Joshua L. Jones / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Eagles first round draft picks have landed in Philly, and both Jalen Carter and Nolan Smith spoke to reporters for the first time from the team facility. Carter spoke to the media via Zoom following his selection, but this was the first time Smith had a chance to talk about his journey and his excitement.

Smith said, “God works in mysterious ways, and I’m here with three of my best friends.”

Here’s what the duo had to say:

On being in Philly together

JALEN CARTER: “It’s very cool. You know, me and Nolan [Smith] had a great connection at Georgia, and I plan on bringing that to the Philadelphia Eagles, and having a great connection out here and balling out.”

NOLAN SMITH: “I would just say it was amazing for me, just because — not only one of my favorite, not only one of the most athletic teammates out here [gesturing to Carter], man, we got a lot of boys, a lot of Georgia-Philly Dawgs, and it’s gonna be great.”

Smith went on to say that their connection — Carter, Smith, along with Jordan Davis and Nakobe Dean — will help on the field. He explained that he would often look to his left at Carter, nod his head, and the two would be on the same page. That connection is already established and it’s just going to continue to grow.

Smith was later asked about the pre-draft process and how he felt about the off-field concerns surrounding Carter. He noted that he always defended Carter because that’s not who the DT is.

SMITH: “JC [Carter] is just one of those guys that you can really count on, and to not only do his job, but he’s gonna do his job plus more, and then come back and get everybody hyped up. That’s just the type of player he is. And he’s one of the best guys to hang around, to be around, and I think, I can’t wait for him to take me to dinner.”

Carter said that it meant a lot to him to have Smith’s support over the past few months, and as someone he’s always looked up to, is really happy to be playing alongside Smith in the NFL.

On playing with Eagles veterans

CARTER: “Just like at Georgia, I looked up to the veterans — just like Nolan, he’s a veteran to me, Jordan Davis, Treyvon Walker, all them guys. I looked up to them guys and followed behind them, and they taught me every step of the way and got me where I’m at now.”

Smith later said that he watches Haason Reddick tape because the two have similar body types, so he’s watched Reddick to see how he uses his hands, how he bends the edge, and how he uses speed to power. He mentioned that he focuses on bending at the top of the rush in his game because it helps him get to the quarterback quicker.

On the Georgia-Philly pipeline

Nolan Smith talked about why the Eagles might be so eager to draft Bulldogs, and the edge rusher mentioned that Georgia has a program built around the culture, which is something the Eagles have, as well. Smith said that you can feel the Eagles’ attention to the culture when you walk in the building.

SMITH: “This was one of my favorite Top 30 visits. Just when I walked in the building, the coaches, the people around here, they greet you with a smile, they say hello, and really just the whole city. So, it was really fun just going from a good culture to an even better culture.”

Smith went on to say that he’s blessed to be in Philly, and admitted he probably has the best opportunity of all because he’s reunited with three of his teammates at the next level. So, he’s not worried about what number he was drafted or whether he fell further than expected, he’s just happy to be with his Dawgs.

The pair was later asked about how there have been so many first round draft picks out of Georgia despite no one having eye-popping numbers — due to the rotations and depth. Smith explained that they really had to be selfless, and everyone had to be on the same page, which is something they intend to do in Philly.

Other notables

  • They both recalled head coach Nick Sirianni’s stories about shooting hoops with both of them during their pre-draft visits. Carter noted that his go-to move used to be the windmill dunk, and people don’t think he can still do it, so he had to show him. Smith also acknowledged that he beat the Eagles’ head coach thanks to a three-point shot from across the room.
  • Carter talked about how he played on the offensive side of the ball in high school and how that was a lot of fun for him. He said that it was scary moving to the defensive side of things, but now he’s definitely a d-lineman.
  • Smith mentioned that he always looked up to Ray Lewis as someone who always got everyone pumped up and made everyone around him better. He also named Von Miller as someone he modeled his game after.

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