Atlanta's pending use of more 3-4 sets, noted by the signings of Paul Soliai and Tyson Jackson, means they need a legitimate edge-rusher to fit in said sets. Louisville's Marcus Smith is the ideal fit for Mike Nolan's multiple scheme defense.
The Falcons obviously feel the same way, as they scheduled a visit with the talented defensive player, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's D. Orlando Ledbetter. Smith's experience in multiple fronts is definitely why the Falcons are showing interest in him.
University of Louisville
Height: 6'3" Weight: 251 pounds
Arm Length: 34" Hand Measurement: 10"
40 yard dash: 4.68 sec. 10 yard split: 1.57 sec.
20 yard shuttle: 4.47 sec. 3-cone Drill: 7.48 sec. Bench Reps: 23 reps
Vertical Jump: 35.0" Broad Jump: 10'1"
2013: 13 Games Played, 42 Tackles, 18.5 Tackles for Loss, 14.5 Sacks, 12 QB Hurries, 4 Fumbles Forced, 3 Pass Deflections, 1 Blocked Kick
2012: 13 Games Played, 29 Tackles, 7.0 Tackles for Loss, 4.0 Sacks, 2 QB Hurries, 1 Interception, 2 Fumbles Forced, 2 Pass Deflections, 2 Two-Point Conversions
2011: 10 Games Played, 12 Tackles, 6.5 Tackles for Loss, 5.5 Sacks, 2 Fumbles Forced, 1 Pass Deflection
2010: 9 Games Played, 3 Tackles, 1.0 Tackle for Loss
Smith is a talented pass-rusher who understands how to win with his extraordinary speed and athleticism for the position. He has excellent hand usage on initial moves and can bend and dip on the outside with the best of them.
He also has some power behind his bull rushes when he decides to control the line. He’s extremely versatile and can line up at either linebacker or defensive end, depending on the scheme. He’d be an ideal hybrid defender for a scheme that uses multiple formations.
Despite being an excellent pass-rusher, Smith will get washed out in the running game at times. He needs to improve his strength and anchor at the line. On top of that, he tends to over-pursue at times, leading to an inability to hold containment against mobile quarterbacks.
He needs to improve his hand usage and develop counter moves in the pass rush. Most of his sacks were scheme-driven, which will have to happen in the pros unless he improves. He has issues in coverage as well, and he should work on those as part of his development in the league.
How does he fit the Comrade Filter?
Smith was a quarterback in high school and made the position switch to defensive end during his career in college. He's played both linebacker and defensive end. However, he was never a captain for his college team.
On the flip side, he was never arrested nor suspended, and he stuck around for his senior year of college while also participating in the Senior Bowl. He's got high-level football IQ and seemingly exceptional attitude off the field.
As a prospect, Marcus Smith has all the tools needed to be a great outside linebacker in the Falcons’ defensive scheme. He’s essentially 90 percent of what Anthony Barr is as a prospect. The Falcons should look toward selecting him in the second or third round of the draft.
He could be a great scheme fit in the role that Kroy Biermann played in 2012. On top of that, he’s a solid all-around locker presence. Sure, he has some issues that need to be coached out of him, but he could eventually be a Pro Bowl-caliber edge player.
How he would fit into Atlanta's plans
Atlanta would likely have to take Smith in the middle of the second round, if not earlier. Smith is easily the best fit for Atlanta out of any of the second-round-or-later edge players. Nolan's defense will take advantage of Smith the same way Louisville's multiple-front defense did.
Smith will line up at both linebacker and defensive end, depending on the formation. They have first-hand knowledge of his abilities in the scheme from seeing him at the Senior Bowl, but bringing him in for a visit just gives them an even more in-depth look.