Kelly: ‘How many guys are that size, 250 pounds running a 4.6 range, having the long arms?’
By Michael McCarthy
From the moment Eagles coach Chip Kelly scouted Marcus Smith at Louisville’s pro day, he was sold.
“He worked out at the pro day and I thought he did a really, really good job in person,” Kelly said. “I was impressed with his athleticism.”
Even though there were a number of wide receivers still on the board, such as USC’s Marqise Lee and Florida State’s Kelvin Benjamin, the Eagles went ahead and selected a versatile linebacker who has the ability to rush the passer.
The Eagles finished 20th in the league in sacks last season and Trent Cole led the way with eight. Adding Smith definitely upgrades this facet on defense.
Smith had 14.5 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss for the Cardinals last season.
“Long levers are strong levers,” Kelly said of Smith’s arm length. “He fits the mold for what we’re looking for. How many guys are that size, 250 pounds running a 4.6 range, having the long arms. We just thought he was a positive. This league is turning into a throwing league and you’ve got to be able to rush the quarterback.”
Smith managed just four sacks as a junior before his breakout senior season. Despite such a strong showing, even Smith was unsure whether he’d be selected so high.
“I feel like they really liked me, but I had no idea they [Eagles] were going to pick me,” Smith said on a conference call. “I’m overjoyed right now.”
So are the Eagles, who nabbed the player they wanted and added a third-round pick in the process.
“We thought it was big just because we wanted Marcus, and we felt like if we went back just enough we could get that extra pick,” Kelly said. “We don’t know who that guy is, but last year that guy was Bennie Logan, so if you have a chance to go back just enough and still get the guy you want and get a Bennie-Logan type player, that’s a great deal for us.”
Smith was actually recruited as a quarterback before switching to the defensive side. Fast forward to now and he’s stoked about joining his new teammates with the Eagles.
“I haven’t reached my full potential yet,” Smith said. “I think once I get around the right people, I’ll be the great player that I want to be.”