Who would have held up a No. 1 jersey at the introductory press conference on Friday?
Turns out, it would still have been linebacker
General manager Howie Roseman revealed to reporters that Smith was the highest-ranked player on the team's board when the Eagles went on the clock at No. 22 on Thursday. The Eagles felt that they could slide down a couple of selections and still come away with a top talent like Smith.
"I think, for us, that was a big part of us trading down initially and getting that value, making sure we got another pick. We didn’t want to get too greedy, because we didn’t want to be in no man’s land when we got to a pick later on and all the players that we were targeting were gone and then we’re picking from the next tier of guys," Roseman said. "It made us feel really good to be able to get the value, move back to 26, entertain some calls and then get a player that we were really excited about getting."
In fact, Roseman was "certain" after talking with other teams following Thursday night’s first round that Smith wouldn't have been available for the Eagles' next pick at No. 54. Roseman would have been "very concerned" if the Eagles' pick was even 10 spots past where they selected Smith at No. 26. This draft was light on top-tier pass rushers, according to Roseman, and Kansas City's selection of Auburn linebacker Dee Ford at No. 23 could have been the start of a run on those players picked.
What will further aid in Smith's transition from college to the NFL, according to Roseman, is the veteran presence at the outside linebacker position with players like
"We did a study of the edge rushers over the last six or seven years, since (2008) actually, and looked at those guys and saw that it was a good situation because we do have some veterans on this football team. So there wasn’t a situation where he had to come in and go and play 1,000 snaps this year," Roseman said. "But at the same time, having a chance to go and compete, it’s funny sometimes when you watch the tape, we talked about projections last week with 4-3 defensive ends and seeing him in coach (Charlie Strong’s) system, seeing his ability to play in space and rush the passer and set the edge, it makes us feel a lot more certain than guys that you’re transitioning from 4-3 defensive end."
The Eagles got the best player at their draft spot with Smith. Now, the Eagles will continue to use that approach as the second day of the NFL Draft is here to continue to shape the roster for 2014 and beyond.