Eagles Wake-Up Call: The Marcus Smith Question

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

As explained here, we’re going to try something new for the Wake-Up Call in the offseason. Each day, we will choose a reader question and make that the topic of the morning post. You can submit your questions in a variety of ways: in the comments section, on Twitter (@Tim_McManus and @SheilKapadia), via e-mail (tmcmanus@phillymag.com and skapadia@phillymag.com) or on Facebook. We’ll choose one each day and answer it.

We’ll go through the questions once a month and randomly select a reader for a free Birds 24/7 t-shirt.

Let’s get to today’s question:

Since the events of last week, this has been one of the more common questions I’ve received.

First, let’s get something straight. Tom Gamble was not fired because drafting Marcus Smith II was his idea. And I don’t believe any of the changes that took place are directly related to the fact that Smith didn’t show much of anything as a rookie. That would be an awfully short-sighted approach.

Was it encouraging first year? Of course not. But to write Smith off completely at this point would be silly.

Having said that, the process by which the Eagles arrived at the Smith pick probably had plenty to do with last week’s changes. By all accounts, the team targeted six players in the first round. The last of the six, Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, went off the board right before the Eagles picked.

At that point, there didn’t seem to be much of a plan. The team traded back and eventually settled on Smith. He filled a need, fit their scheme and possessed athletic upside.

Recently, a report suggested that Chip Kelly wanted to take Jordan Matthews in the first round. Maybe that’s true. But any attempts to separate Kelly from the Smith pick seem like a stretch. Look at the Josh Huff and Taylor Hart selections. Nothing got done without Kelly’s stamp of approval. He was at Louisville’s Pro Day, scouting Smith, and he had to sign off on the pick.

At the same time, Roseman certainly had a voice, and there is no evidence suggesting he was against the Smith selection.

Roseman has talked often in the past about formulating a draft board and sticking with it. Don’t reach because of need or because there’s a run at a certain position. That’s how mistakes are made. But it doesn’t seem like that same approach was used last year. If it was, why would Roseman have had to convince Kelly to wait on Hart? Wouldn’t they have already formed opinions and put together the board? Plucking names and making picks would then have been pretty simple.

Had this been simply about Jeffrey Lurie not trusting Roseman as a talent evaluator, Lurie wouldn’t have scoffed at the idea that the GM might not return when asked after the Giants game.

The moves of last week had more to do with the Kelly-Roseman relationship and the flawed process than who ultimately pulled the trigger on the first-round pick.


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Jeff McLane of the Inquirer offers his thoughts on the new power structure:

As for Kelly’s expanded role, if there’s one person who could handle the load it’s apparently him. He will now be responsible for not only all that coaching entails but also overseeing the personnel department. That’s a lot to be in charge of. But Kelly sleeps, eats and drinks football. He’s single. He has no kids. Football is his life.

And here’s Tommy Lawlor of Iggles Blitz:

There are a couple of differing theories here. The first says that draft value is important. You figure out which players you want and then try to figure out what the other 31 teams think of the player. Is this someone that you can wait on or do you need to be aggressive? This isn’t about looking for bargains. The point is to try not to overpay since you have limited resources. If you can get a player in the 5th round, wait. Use your 4th round pick on someone else.

The other theory is about targeting your players and then going to get them. The Seahawks coveted Russell Wilson. They showed great discipline in waiting to the 3rd round to take him. Think about how different that franchise is if Wilson isn’t there, but Nick Foles or Kirk Cousins is their QB. They got very lucky that someone didn’t step in early for Wilson.


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