Senior season boosts Marcus Smith

PHILADELPHIA -- Louisville linebacker Marcus Smith wasn't projected by many experts to be selected in the first round of the NFL draft.

Even Smith knew why.

"Maybe because of my junior film," Smith said on a conference call.

Four sacks and 29 tackles were hardly eye-popping numbers. So Smith returned for his senior season and wound up with 14.5 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss, much-improved statistics.

It was more than that.

At 6-foot-3, 251 pounds, Smith got bigger, stronger and faster. And it resulted with the Philadelphia Eagles taking him with the No. 26 overall pick in the first round. They traded down four spots with the Cleveland Browns to grab Smith.

"I think with my ability, I can be a double-digit sack guy," Smith said. "Once I get into camp and get rolling, I think I can be a double-digit sack guy. I really do."

The Eagles may have rated Smith higher than others, but they're ecstatic with the selection.

"His ceiling is very, very high," Eagles coach Chip Kelly said. "We're excited. He's a tough, hard-nosed football player. New to the position. Similar to Lane Johnson, you're getting a guy who has a huge upside because he hasn't played the position very long."

Long before Kelly watched Smith play at Louisville's pro day, he saw him help Louisville dominate Temple at Lincoln Financial Field, also the home of the Eagles.

Smith eventually completed his Louisville career with 24 sacks but was projected in the second round or later in virtually every mock draft.

"All you need is one team to love you," Smith said. "I know the Eagles will take care of me and I'm happy to be a part of this great organization."