Smith tunes out criticism over his selection

PHILADELPHIA -- Marcus Smith heard the whispers.

He just chose not to listen.

After Smith was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles with the No. 26 overall pick in the first round of the NFL draft, criticism came in all forms. But the ever-improving linebacker was simply focused on joining the Eagles.

He paid no attention to the outside chatter.

"I know a lot of fans want to figure out why the Eagles picked me," Smith said Friday afternoon during a break in the Eagles' rookie minicamp. "I feel like I can become a great player and I feel like I can become the player coach [Chip] Kelly wants me to be."

Smith recorded 14.5 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss as a senior linebacker at Louisville but was projected by most experts to be at least a second-round pick.

Following the selection, most experts questioned the Eagles' choice.

"It doesn't bother me," Smith said. "It just puts a chip on my shoulder. It makes me want to prove to people even more why they picked me."

Smith plans on leaning on the veterans in the locker room and taking in as much as he can, especially during this first minicamp.

"The guys who have already been there, they know what's going on," Smith said. "I don't know too much what's going on right now. You just try to get up under their wing and take everything from them because they know everything. They've been in the NFL. This is just my first year."

Smith began his career at Louisville as a quarterback and wound up becoming one of the most dangerous pass rushers in the country by the time he was a senior.

The next step is accomplishing the same feat in the NFL, and he's not worried about the critics.

"It's been a great experience and it's what I've dreamed of," Smith said.