As NFL writer Andrew Garda noted, the somewhat shocking pick was met with a chorus of boos from the City of Brotherly Love:
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:
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:
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:
Some, such as ESPN's Adam Caplan and Pro Football Focus' Jeff Ratcliffe, were quick to applaud the pick.
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:
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.
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