As NFL writer Andrew Garda noted, the somewhat shocking pick was met with a chorus of boos from the City of Brotherly Love:
Eagle Nation in Radio City dislikes Marcus Smith pick. A lot.— Andrew Garda (@Andrew_Garda) May 9, 2014
Drafting a defensive player in the early rounds has become common practice for the Eagles, as ESPN Stats & Info noted, but according to CSN Philly's Reuben Frank, this particular selection was much different:
Eagles take DE/LB Marcus Smith. Eagles have now drafted a league-high 14 defensive players in first 4 rounds of last 4 drafts #PHIpick— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 9, 2014
Marcus Smith is the first LB the Eagles have drafted in the first round since Jerry Robinson in 1979.— Reuben Frank (@RoobCSN) May 9, 2014
Of course, he almost wasn't a defensive player.
Recruited as a quarterback out of high school before switching to defensive end as a true freshman, Smith enjoyed a tremendous 2013 campaign with the Cardinals, racking up 14.5 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss on his way to winning AAC Defensive Player of the Year.
Rotoworld's Evan Silva provided some specifics of the tantalizing prospect:
#Eagles rookie OLB Marcus Smith is 6'3/251 with 34-inch arms. 14.5 sacks last year at Louisville. Played 70% of snaps standing up.— Evan Silva (@evansilva) May 9, 2014
Boasting an impressive blend of size and athleticism, Smith has the potential to develop into a three-down player, but currently he's a pass-rushing specialist. As Pro Football Focus noted, that's a need for Chip Kelly's squad:
The Eagles most efficient pass rusher last year was Brandon Graham with a Pass Rushing Productivity of 11.9. Cole at 9.6, Barwin 7.5— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) May 9, 2014
Some, such as ESPN's Adam Caplan and Pro Football Focus' Jeff Ratcliffe, were quick to applaud the pick.
LOVE the Marcus Smith pick for Philly. Great speed and impressive bend around the edge.— Jeff Ratcliffe (@JeffRatcliffe) May 9, 2014
Still, in pre-draft circles, Smith was often regarded as a second-round prospect, and when his name was announced by commissioner Roger Goodell, it came as a bit of a surprise.
NFL draft analyst Dion Caputi called it a reach:
Eagles took Marcus Smith about a round earlier than I would have, but he's an interesting athlete with impressive quickness off the edge.— Dion Caputi (@nfldraftupdate) May 9, 2014
How would you grade this pick?
When a guy doesn't get a ton of pre-draft attention and is ultimately selected on the Thursday of the NFL draft, there is naturally going to be some uprise, but Smith is a tantalizing prospect who fills a need for an Eagles squad that finished 20th in the NFL last season in sacks.
Although this will certainly go down as one of the most highly debated picks of the first round, Smith has the physical tools to turn those debates into a distant memory once the regular season rolls around.