Marcus Smith comes into training camp with some big expectations on his shoulders. The Philadelphia Eagles‘ most glaring weakness last season was the lack of a young, dynamic pass rusher who fit into Eagles defensive coordinator Billy Davis‘ 3-4 scheme.
Enter Smith. He ticks all the boxes in terms of measurables. He is 6-foot-3 with long arms and tons of athleticism, which is something Chip Kelly demands at the outside linebacker position. He also is familiar with a 3-4 defense having played it in college. While Smith is raw, he will be familiar with this style of defense.
Another huge part of Smith’s game is his ability in coverage. Early on in OTAs Smith has shown smoothness in coverage and looks comfortable dropping and running with opposing tight ends. This is huge as last season the only guy the Eagles could count on at outside linebacker to blanket tight ends downfield was Connor Barwin.
If something happens to Barwin this season, the Eagles at least know Smith can handle some of his duties. Early on Smith has been backing up at the “Jack” position which is the spot Barwin occupies. Most fans expected Smith to eventually replace Trent Cole.
That could still very well be the case, but Kelly and the rest of this coaching staff want to see what Smith can do. They want to cross train him at both positions so that when it is time for him to start he will be comfortable doing a bit of everything. “Versatility” is the key in this defense, and for Kelly it applies to every position on the field.
So far it looks like Smith has it in droves. I expect Smith to be a big part of this defense now and going into the future.