— Story by Kyle Nunnamaker @KMN735
With OTAs currently in progress there were some names and faces that didn’t at some point show up to the “voluntary” workouts. A couple names that pop up are veterans like Fletcher Cox, Jason Peters, and Donnie Jones. These proven vets have their right to miss out on OTAs as they have proven their importance to the team on the gridiron, even though they really should still be there. Oh yeah I almost forgot! The other name that is mentioned when it comes to absentees at OTA’s is Marcus Smith. It probably is not a big concern for the team that he is not working out with his teammates given that he has been invisible for three years now. The veteran is apparently not attending the workouts simply because they are voluntary and he is entitled to his decision, or is he? Let us go back in time and understand why Marcus Smith is entitled to miss OTAs this offseason by looking at the unforgettable work he has accomplished in his NFL career.
It isn’t hard to forget that LB Marcus Smith II was the 26th overall selection in the 2014 NFL Draft by Howie Roseman and the Philadelphia Eagles. Now I’m not sure about you, but a first round selection should make an immediate impact, especially at a position where the team is thin. The Birds had Mychal Kendricks, a washed up Demeco Ryans, a 32 year old Trent Cole, Brandon Graham, and Connor Barwin ahead of Smith on the depth chart so in Chip Kelly’s 3-4 offense the 2014 first rounder would get his chance on the field right? I mean the Birds were big on rotating guys on defense. Well apparently Smith was not impressive enough to get on the field, regardless of a 3-4 rotational style defensive scheme. In fact Marcus finished the season with eight games played, none as a starter, and racked up 1 total tackle on the 6% of snaps he played (68 plays). But even after a nonexistent rookie season, Marcus Smith regained confidence heading into his sophomore season.
Before the 2015-16 NFL season Marcus Smith publicly set the bar high for himself after stating his goals for the upcoming season. Smith was determined to record 10 sacks, 10 tackles for losses, and 4 interceptions as quoted in Jeff McLane’s “Marcus Smith Says His Confidence is Back” from 2015. Well these lofty goals were hard to achieve when Smith once again struggled to get on the field in 2015-16. He was in on 10% of the snaps (126 plays). He came oh so close to achieving his goals by recording 1.5 sacks, 1.5 tackles for losses, and 0 INTs. Only 8.5 sacks, 8.5 TFLs, and 4 INTs away from his goal, Marcus Smith showed tremendous growth though by seeing double the amount of plays he saw in his rookie season, an unbelievable feat for the first round draft pick. Now I will skip his 2016-17 stats as I do not want to put you to sleep, but in his three year career, Smith has mustered up 24 total tackles, 4 sacks, 4.5 TFLs, and 0 INTs in 37 games. So as you can see in three years he is still trying to reach those 2015-16 season goals.
I would say the stud LB from Louisville needs as much practice as he can get so that maybe he could progress to 3 sacks in his 4th season before becoming a free agent. He really is helping his cause as teams around the league are in desperate need of an unproven veteran LB who feels is entitled enough to skip out on voluntary workouts. Marcus Smith II’s career may be on the bubble, but if you ask him he has nothing to prove to anybody as shown by his recent actions, or lack thereof.