The Eagles drafted linebacker Marcus Smith in the first round of May’s draft in hopes of boosting a pass rush that registered an underwhelming 37 sacks last season.
They’ve given Smith a lot of time on the field during the first two preseason games, he played 73 of 81 defensive snaps against the Patriots last Friday, but they’ve yet to see him get home on one of his rushes. Coach Chip Kelly said he saw “bright spots” from Smith against New England, but that there were also moments when he looked “overwhelmed” and that the team needs to get more out of him in general.
“Marcus got a real extended look,” Kelly said, via the Philadelphia Daily News. “He’s got a burst. He’s got some speed coming off the edge. But if you’re going to play that many plays, we’re going to need more production out of you. He’s still working at it. He still has a lot of things to improve at.”
There’s going to be a learning curve for any rookie, but there’s a bit more pressure on Smith because the Eagles didn’t do much else to boost their pass rush this offseason. While they like what they’ve seen from linebacker Travis Long, chances are that Trent Cole and Connor Barwin are going to have to produce more than they did last season if Smith doesn’t turn the corner quickly.