The Eagles’ decision to draft linebacker Marcus Smith in the first round of this year’s NFL draft was a questionable move the night it happened.
Philly moved back from No. 22 to No. 26 (via a trade with Cleveland that would net them Johnny Manziel) and selected the raw talent from Louisville.
Now it’s many months later, and the 26th overall pick has yet to record an NFL tackle. He hasn’t really settled into a position on the field and the coaching staff has not trusted him to take the field despite a multitude of injuries in the Eagles’ linebacking core.
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“Out of necessity we had to move him and that does not benefit him and his progress,” defensive coordinator Bill Davis said. “So we set him back by moving him inside, but we needed that because of all the injuries we had inside.”
Though Davis and Chip Kelly do have high hopes for the future with regard to Smith, it is typically expected that a first round pick will contribute right off the bat, and Smith has not.
“Right now as you judge Marcus,” Davis said, “you have to slow down the judgment a little bit and say, ‘We moved him, so where is his understanding? Let’s see how good he can be at this.’”
Aside from second round wideout Jordan Matthews, who is one of the top rookie pass catchers in the league, the rest of the Birds’ draft class is looking just as grim as Smith.
Josh Huff, who can be a spark on special teams, has several costly turnovers this year. Another third rounder, Jaylen Watkins, rarely takes the field while fifth rounders Taylor Hart and Ed Reynolds aren’t even on the roster. And while seventh rounder, big man Beau Allen has made a few contributions here and there, he hardly saves the lackluster class.
Here’s a look at some of the first-rounders the Eagles passed on and how they’re performing this season:
- Deone Bucannon, Cardinals: The best defensive back on the board when the Birds took Smith, the 27th overall pick has 72 tackles in 14 games.
- Kelvin Benjamin, Panthers: Benjamin went 28th overall and has starred for Carolina, catching 67 passes for 952 yards and nine touchdowns. Don't you think another big wideout would help in the redzone?
- Bradley Roby, Broncos: Roby has been a key part of Denver’s secondary and could have been an asset in Philly. He has 60 tackles, a sack, two forced fumbles and 11 passes defended.