When the Philadelphia Eagles opted not to go after a pass rusher in free agency, they pinned their hopes to first-round pick Marcus Smith, a linebacker from Louisville.
Through two preseason games, the returns on Smith aren’t promising—no sacks in 119 snaps, including 73 of the Eagles’ 81 defensive plays against the New England Patriots on Friday.
“Marcus got a real extended look,” Kelly told 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.”
Kelly said there were “bright spots” from Smith against the Patriots, but there were other times when he looked “overwhelmed,” which is never something you want to hear about the first-round draft pick you are banking on to improve your pass rush.
Smith had 14½ sacks as a senior at Louisville last season—second in FBS behind the 15 racked up Trent Murphy of Stanford.
Smith also had 42 tackles–18½ for loss—and forced four fumbles.
He had two sacks in Louisville’s 36-9 thrashing of Miami in the Russell Athletic Bowl on Dec. 28. In three seasons with the Cardinals, Smith had 24 sacks.
The Eagles took Smith with the 26th overall pick in May’s draft. In two preseason games, Smith has four tackles and one pass breakup.