Eagles Wake-Up Call: ‘I Have Some Things To Prove’

NCAA Football: Louisville at Southern Mississippi

Marcus Smith is well aware of how some viewed the Eagles’ decision to take him with the No. 26 overall pick earlier this month.

Observers have questioned whether Chip Kelly and Howie Roseman reached by taking the Louisville outside linebacker in the first round. In fact, Smith said himself after the draft that he was expecting more to be a second-round pick.

But now he’s in the building and the job is to go to work. Fair or not, first-round picks are evaluated more closely than other rookies.

“I do feel like I have some things to prove,” Smith said. “I know a lot of fans want to figure out why the Eagles picked me, but I feel like I can become a great player and I feel like I can become the player that Coach Kelly would want me to be out here. Trying to work hard every day, trying to learn from guys like Connor [Barwin] and Trent Cole. I just want to come under their wing and just learn everything I can from them so I can be the great player I want to be.”

Does it bother you to hear what some are saying?

“No, it doesn’t bother me,” Smith said. “It just puts a chip on my shoulder and it just makes me want to just prove [to] people even more why they picked me with the 26th pick.”

If there was any concern about how Smith would embrace the veterans at his position, those can be put to rest. He seems to be entering the league with the correct mindset, as someone who has yet to accomplish a thing.

Trent Cole and Connor Barwin were the team’s outside linebackers last season as the Eagles transitioned to a 3-4. Barwin is a lock to start once again. Smith will likely begin the season as part of a rotation, although he has a chance to unseat Cole at some point.

“You have to approach it as you want to play right away,” he said. “You want to get on the field and be able to help the team contribute. That’s the competitive mindset that you have to have. But you also know that the guys who have already been there, they know what’s going on. I don’t know too much what’s going on right now, so you just try to get up under their wing and just take everything you can from them because they know everything. They’ve been playing in the NFL for awhile and this is just my first year.”

Asked what Cole told him, Smith added: “Trent Cole just told me that my head’s gonna be on fire right now. Everything’s just gonna be coming at you. He was like, ‘You’re gonna make mistakes. Just try to learn from ‘em and keep moving forward. Don’t ever get down on yourself. And just move on to the next play.’ ”

The best part about Smith’s game is his versatility. That should allow him to carve out a role quickly.

Smith said he heard the Cardinals might have taken him with the 27th pick if the Eagles had passed. There was also a report that the Redskins were interested at No. 34. The “reach” label will stick if he doesn’t produce. But if Smith fulfills his potential, no one will care that he got taken earlier than some analysts projected.

He participated in the team’s three-day rookie camp over the weekend and said he’s been spending full days (8 a.m. to 6 p.m.) at the NovaCare Complex.

“It’s been a great experience – exactly what I wanted to happen in my life, what I dreamed of,” Smith said of the last couple weeks. “Just going back to last week and graduating, got drafted and now I’m here with the Philadelphia Eagles. Couldn’t be more excited.”


Louis Riddick of ESPN.com liked the Taylor Hart pick for the Eagles:

Program and scheme familiarity are two of the most important variables when it comes to projecting future player performance, and Hart has both working in his favor in Philadelphia. Having played for Eagles head coach Chip Kelly at the University of Oregon in a 3-4 scheme very similar to the one that is currently being run in Philadelphia, he will immediately be able to hit the ground running both in terms of what is to be expected from a training and preparation standpoint, as well as from a schematic and technical one. Look for Hart to continue to make strides in terms of his muscular/physical development, as he already has shown the competitive character and fundamental understanding of how to play the DE position in the 3-4 at a high-enough level to suggest a bright future in Philadelphia.

Gil Brandt of NFL.com think Josh Huff has a chance to make an instant impact:

After spending four years at Oregon, Huff should already be familiar with the system of Eagles coach (and former Ducks head man) Chip Kelly — and that will be a huge advantage, especially for a receiver. Notably, Huff played immediately upon arriving at Oregon rather than redshirting, even making two starts as a true freshman. When a player doesn’t get redshirted in his first year, especially at a strong program, it’s an indicator of significant talent. Huff grabbed my personal attention last November in a rivalry game against Oregon State, which I was watching to get a look at Beavers receiver (and future Saints draft pick) Brandin Cooks. Huff was unbelievable in that game, hauling in nine catches for 186 yards and three scores.


More on the Eagles’ rookies.

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  • JoeyJoeJoeJuniorShabadoo

    I’m trying to keep my expectations reasonable with these guys. But I feel like Huff will make the biggest impact. I don’t really know why, I just think it is.

    • Eagles1018

      I hope Jordan Matthews and Huff both do damage. Heck I hope all of them show promise. I want us to win a ring!

      • Mike J

        Agreed! Having watched a lot of SEC I knew about Matthews and was happy to get him. Didn’t really know about Huff but the more I read the more I like. I know it’s hard for rookies to contribute a lot…but I think we’ll see both of these guys help in year one.

    • JofreyRice

      I’m keeping it reasonable. My over/under for the rookies, depending on injury, of course:

      Smith – 4 sacks
      Matthews – 800 yards/8 TDs
      Huff – 400/3 TDs

      • Richard Colton

        Very reasonable. Does Matthews see time on the outside in your scenario? Or just the slot in year one? His number might be a bit high.

        Here’s another over/under to chew on:

        Games started Watkins & Reynolds (combined): 6
        Total Ints by Eagles Rookies: 2.5

        • JofreyRice

          Matthews is the rosiest forecast, for sure. Mostly based on the stories of his work ethic. “Energy and persistence conquer all things”, as Benjamin Franklin said. I can’t think of a trait I value more in a player than insane work ethic.

          I think they mix and match him around the formation, and I think the athletic OL on screens are going to be his best friend. He can do 800. I think 1000 from Maclin, 800 from Cooper and 800 from Matthews is very reasonable.

          I don’t see Reynolds starting any games. Really perplexed by that pick, he’s a poor athlete. Good chance he’s really smart, but…meh…I can’t say I’ve really studied Watkins all that much, so it’s hard for me to judge. 2.5 sounds good. Smith might have one of those.

          • Jerry Pomroy

            I think Watkins is gonna be a player. Got the same feeling about him that I had about Boykin. May not be this year. But I think he’s gonna prove to be a draft steal. I think they’re starting him at CB due to his ++ speed.

          • Richard Colton

            had me at Ben Franklin

          • Brandon Boykin, LOL

            I understand being bearish on Reynolds, but I think he has a chance to be solid for us. Perhaps he’s being developed for when Jenkins leaves.

          • JofreyRice

            They like him for some reason, that’s for sure. We’ll have to see how it works out.

          • Jerry Pomroy

            A lot of people keep saying that Reynolds stays in school an extra year and he’d be a 2nd-3rd rounder. I personally haven’t watched him yet to judge or make any bold predictions.

          • JofreyRice

            Pac-12 is primarily what I watch in-season. Cal, mostly–was ecstatic when they took Kendricks. Probably saw the Cardinal play 3 or 4 times, and Reynolds is a guy that never stood out to me. When you actually focus on him on the cutups, it’s mostly bad.

            I’m sure he’s a bright kid, and he has decent size. Maybe he knocked their socks off during the interview process.

          • cliff henny

            problem with Reynolds, have to watch ’12 tape. kelly and howie seem to like drafting these types too, for whatever reason, had dip in play draft eligible year, but previous looked pretty good. ’12 he was a maching, picking what seemed like a ball off a game and taking off for endzone.

          • Jerry Pomroy

            I’ve actually heard that as well. Safety play is usually really hard to analyze on TV angles. Even harder than CB IMO.

          • Jerry Pomroy

            Yeah I don’t get to watch nearly as much CF on Saturdays between kids activities, yard/lawn is high maintenance, etc., just don’t have the time & I’d rather keep my Sundays open.

        • Joe from Easton

          I dunno, I think under on both and not because they don’t have promise. I just see Wolff starting this year and find it hard to figure where Reynolds gets in barring injury. Watkins should see the field in sub packages, but again barring injury I don’t see him being starter yet.

          • Brandon Boykin, LOL

            I really wonder how Boykin feels about Watkins. He hasn’t even praticed a snap and we’re projecting him to be outside.

          • Jerry Pomroy

            I think you’re basically looking at two players that come from the same mold athletically and talent wise. Very good speed, good coverage skills, playmakers (ballhawks) & athletes. But I think Watkins is giving you the size up on the line to press, so he’s got a better shot outside. That doesn’t devalue Boykin by any means. Inside he can be great, outside he will have more struggles matching up to bigger receivers and isolating them along the sidelines. Don’t sleep on Carroll either. From all accounts I’ve heard from respectable resources he’s a Fletcher clone, minus the injury history.

          • Brandon Boykin, LOL

            Somehow I caught enough dolphins’ games to see Carroll. I like the guy and the signing. Plus, wasn’t he the one that picked off Brady to end the game? Anybody who picks off Brady is an instant fave.

            Also, I would never devalue Boykin. I’m sure I speak for 98% of posters when I say “he’s my guy.” I’m just worried about keeping him. He’s confined to the slot. You can’t make outside money being confined to the slot. Then the Iggs draft Watkins and he’s immediately projected to play outside. I’m just worried that Boykin has less of propensity to stay.

          • Jerry Pomroy

            I love Boykin. I just think speed can be overwhelmed by size and strength on the outside. To be honest, I like Boykin more as a ballhawking zone FS than I do an outside CB. The WRs are just getting bigger & bigger. Just look at this draft class. What were there 2 maybe 3 guys under 6’0″ drafted in first 3 rounds? The majority though were in that 6’2″-6’3″ range. I do understand your point though. I don’t want to lose him either. Hopefully he understands that he can be a great slot CB, but wouldn’t be the same player outside… And that’s NOT a bad thing at all, as I think it’s harder to find a good slot CB, than one for the outside.

          • Joe from Easton

            I think Boykin feels like Watkins is going to be his buddy in the years ahead.. lito / sheldon, bobby / troy… 2015 it’ll be boykin / watkins.

          • Jerry Pomroy

            I dunno, I think moving Boykin outside will limit his ability to make plays on the ball. Having Jenkins allows you to free up Boykin more to drop into a zone and make plays on the ball in the open. Kind of acting like a ballhawking zone safety. I just think you’re exposing him too much to size mismatches if you “only” play him outside. I could see matching him up against speedsters outside like DJax here and there. But the game and players have changed since having Sheldon matched up on a #2 receiver.

        • aub32

          I’m taking the under. I think Watkins may start 2-3 games in relief of Fletch, due to injuries. I don’t see Reynolds starting unless there are multiple injuries at safety. Jenkins has one spot locked down. The team seems high on Wolff, and Nate has a year’s head start and had a decent year.

      • Joe from Easton

        I’d take the under on Huff’s yards and push on the TDs. I’ll go with the over on Matthews’ yards and under on his TDs. For Smith I’m taking the over, got a feelin’!

        • JofreyRice

          fair enough. I kind of broke it out with ~4600 passing yards total, a little north of what they posted last year.

          Maclin – 1000
          Cooper – 800
          Matthews – 800
          Sproles – 500
          McCoy -350 (I’d like to see a slightly reduced workload in the screen game, with all these other targets)
          Huff – 400
          Ertz – 500
          Celek – 300

          When I work it all out, it seems a little optimistic. I think they’ll feel the Desean loss. I just watched the Minny game over the weekend, and they had no answer for him. I forgot that he had that one rushing TD called back.

          • Joe from Easton

            Those numbers look fair.

            I broke it down by catches and YPC. For a rookie (presumably) number 4 receiver, I think 25 catches is going to be a fair number and I don’t see him getting 16 YPC, maybe 12-14 so I can see him getting 300-350 yds and 3 TDs.

            I think I’d project Ertz a lot higher than 500 yards… I’d say the over / under on him should be 650 and I’d take the over.

          • JofreyRice

            yeah, I’m not a huge Ertz fan. I’m hoping he makes me one this year. It’s just that he doesn’t strike me as explosive or violent after contact, and his catch radius underwhelms me. There are a lot of plays where he doesn’t correct a slightly errant throw, he just sticks his paw out there and hits it. I feel like you want your 6’5″ TE to do that for you, because he’s not running by anyone. But you could be right–maybe Desean’s absence gives Ertz the opportunity to shine.

          • Joe from Easton

            Fair points, I guess I just have a different analysis of him. I see a big year coming from him. I did a numbers analysis on the great TE’s about 12 weeks into last season and none of them really showed the things you’re looking for (minus Gronk, beast from day 1) in their first year. Ertz as on par with all of them (gates, gonzalez, witten). TE in my opinion is just a slow position for players to develop at. Most of them need to get NFL ready in terms of blocking for a year before they’re comfortable in their scheme. Ertz is going to be bigger and stronger this year and I think that’ll aid him in being the bruiser after the catch that you want to see. His hands are money if you ask me. Also don’t forget he missed all of OTA’s last year so the scheme is more familiar to him now and on top of that Kelly is going to deploy a much different offense than we saw last year. Ertz is going to be a focal point moving forward in my humble opinion.

          • JofreyRice

            Good points. Yeah, I’ve seen similar analysis from Kempski, and Vick spoke very highly about him. I hope he turns out to be another Jason Witten type, that would be awesome.

      • Jerry Pomroy

        I’ve got the over on Smith (think he’s good for 5-6 sacks). I’m gonna go over (under 900 though) on Matthews yds, under on TDs (slightly, say 7). Huff I’m taking the over on both (think he’s good for 500/5).

        • Jerry Pomroy

          Now next year (’15) will be much different story…

        • JofreyRice

          Well, if he can get Cole off the field, as you’ve said you think he might be able to do, I could see it. I think he’ll have a tough time. Checking out that Minny game, Cole played much better than I remembered. Nice explosion from his first step, running down ballcarriers from behind.

          I think they really want a 4 headed monster to get after the passer. In that Vikings game, they were threatening the A gaps with both ILBs and had Barwin and Cole right on the line on most 3rd downs. Davis was able to get guys to Cassel totally free–it’s just that Cassel somehow became Tom Brady for an afternoon; Williams and Fletcher leaving their game in Philly didn’t help, either.

      • cliff henny

        1200 and 9 from rookies would be great. cant wait to see kelly deploy all these weapons. good luck knowing which 5 skilled guys are coming out each series, possibilities seem endless

  • Will

    I can’t wait till TC to see these guys up close…especially all the new Defensive player’s added to the roster…

    • Richard Colton

      Very excited about Watkins. You know 1/2 these receivers are going to be busts. How cool would it be if we somehow nabbed the better sibling?

      • Will

        I think Matthews and Huff both have a positive impact on the Offense this year…do not see either one as a bust possibility…Watkins might put sconces on the bench this year…or Boykin can play outside and Watkins in the slot which should make Boykin and a lot of Eagles fans happy…

        • Richard Colton

          All true. Lets say Sammy Watkins turns out to be a bust and his brother is a star in the making. I give it a 2% chance of happening. How cool would that be? Plus I can finally wear my Watkins jersey in public again.

          • aub32

            One doesn’t have to be a bust. Why can’t they both be great? Sort of like the Baber twins? Although, since we have the one on defense who was overlooked he remains humble and finishes his career rather than leaving early for TV

          • oreofestar

            and our brother wins a bowl :)

          • Richard Colton

            Good comparison, I’ll take that in a heartbeat.

          • Jerry Pomroy

            You gonna tape up the numbers?

          • Richard Colton

            THink I should use electrical or duct? I’m trying to keep it classy.

          • dnabrice

            I would go with something fireproof.

          • Jerry Pomroy

            Well you could use both & create new numbers. Use the duct to make the 37 & then outline in black electrical…

      • Jerry Pomroy

        I can see a scenario where Sammy doesn’t quite live up to his lofty expectations (maybe not quite a bust, bust not an all-pro) and Jaylen surpasses his and becomes our, eh em…Richard Sherman.

        • peteike

          no way Sammy doesnt become a player, you can just tell that dude can ball. Only issue I see is hes stuck in Buffalo so we’ll have to wait until he leaves there in 4 years.

          • Jerry Pomroy

            I’m not saying he won’t be. I’m saying that I can see him not living fully up to the “lofty” expectations and not being all that AND a bag of chips. Maybe just all that, with no chips. He does have EJ as his QB…

          • Amar

            You mean just like CJ Spiller was hands down the most talented playmaker in the draft !

  • Bullwinkle

    There are video interviews with the rookies on philadelphiaeagles.com. I especially liked the one with Huff. He is intense. He is a team player who will do anything to help the team win. In fact, all of the rookies came across that way. They also came across as smart. You can see what Kelly is looking for in a player by listening to these guys.

    • Javi Echie

      Agreed, I seen the interview with Huff and he seems like a good kid that has a good passion for the game. I’m really excited to see what he can do in the slot with the ball in his hands.

    • djack10

      Less talented teams with better attitude beat more talented teams with poor attitude. Just see the “dream team” year for reference.

  • Hanibal Luis

    Smith is saying the right things.

    Let’s hope he gets a strip sack in one of his first few games and start the buzz going, show Philly what he can do.

    • Jerry Pomroy

      Here’s to hoping he becomes Eli’s nemesis in that department for the remainder of little Manning’s career.

  • cliff henny

    excited to see how kelly and Davis use Smith, he sounds like exactly what ’13 LB group needed. hopefully fans dont put too much into Smith’s sack numbers, think it needs to be less player focused, he’ll be doing a lot more than qb hunting. he can rotates in for Cole and Ryans, keeps them fresser, plus Barwin and kendricks can disguise blitz more. i’m hoping for a 4-6 sacks from him to equal another couple for each in rest of group, maybe increasing last years total by 12+. even if Smith gets 2 for the year, if other’s get their’s, i’m happy.

    • DoctorRick

      Sacks are fun but it is maybe even more important to be ale to make the QB move from his spot. The last Superbowl is a great example, the ‘hawks consistently made Peyton move off his spot but I don’t think he was sacked the entire game. Let’s hope that Smith makes opposing QBs remember where he is and that he makes them uncomfortable.

      • Jerry Pomroy

        One understated piece to Smith’s game is his ability to adjust his rush inside when he sees the QB step up in the pocket.

      • cliff henny

        no doubt, nothing better than the Eli special #2, throwing shallow pop fly wobbler cause he got crushed in face or arm hit from behind. #1 is those timing routes, when they arent on same page and he throws it to db standing about 15 yards wide open, those are the funniest.

    • dnabrice

      I don’t think they’ll use Smith to spell Ryans…

      • Jerry Pomroy

        I think Cliff means in sub packages. Smith could certainly be a LB in a 4-2-5.

        • cliff henny

          yup, or 3-3-5, though it’s same players just lined up differently. heck, with Kendricks being so fast, a 3-3-5 can become a 4-1-6, with MK flying back. think Smith’s versatility is really going to be on display on 3rd and longs. same as offense, the addition of SMith and Wadkins/Carroll, talking about hybrid adusting after snap galour defenses.

  • myeaglescantwin

    i’m glad everyone is doubting this guy.

    If he is truly the type of competitor he & chip believe he is, nothing should fuel his fire more than proving Chip right.

    I trust that Chipper is going to be smart and put this kid in the best position to develop and grow. There are very few people in the league that would be a better example of how to carry yourself as a pro than Trent Cole.

  • Chris Jones

    Smith feels like Brandon graham 2.0 but you never know with the draft. Personally I think he will atleast end up a solid starter.

    • Jerry Pomroy

      Two totally different skill sets my man. BG was drafted in the Reid DE mold. An undersized, shoot up the field DE. That doesn’t describe Smith at all as he’s a more fluid athlete perfectly suited for the role he was drafted, but also versatile enough to cross schemes. He doesn’t just do everything, he does it well and almost naturally.

    • cliff henny

      never know, but big difference is Graham was 1 hit wonder, speed around the edge and his injury just sucked the NFL like out of him. Smith can do many different things on the field, so even if he cant develope everything, should be something there Davis can use. but, injuries are the great equalizer.

    • peteike

      saying the exact same things as rookies, absolutely. I would never judge a rookie yet in terms of potential though

    • Reasonableeaglefan

      Funny, I’ve been telling people Dee Ford is the new Brandon Graham. A guy who should be a 4-3 DE that is being asked to play in a 3-4. This time Andy didn’t dump a bad scheme fit, he drafted him for himself. It just shows how determined they are to squeeze Hali for money.

  • Brandon Baltic

    “Barwin is a lock to start once again. Smith will likely begin the season as part of a rotation, although he has a chance to unseat Cole at some point.”

    Uh what? I think it’s the other way around buddy. I like Barwin but he wasn’t nearly as productive and T. Cole last year.

    • jmkrav

      You must only look at sacks as production the

    • Maggie

      Huh? Cole and Barwin do not even play the same role on the D.

      • Brandon Baltic

        Smith can play both sides.

  • SunShine

    Like the mindset that he is carrying. Only way to prove the naysayers wrong is by putting your head down and outworking your peers. I believe if he does that, the intangibles that he possess will definitely take over at some point

  • Glenn

    Some people have criticized the Huff and Hart picks because they are from Oregon. Implying that Kelly is reaching for the Oregon guys because he is familiar with them, and may be bypassing other guys who are more talented. It makes sense to me that he picked these guys because he knows their work ethic and character first hand. These guys are much more likely to be productive right away since there are already familiar with the schemes, and have proven to be effective in those schemes. Smart picks.