Nolan Smith has jumped right in. The 30th overall selection in the 2023 NFL Draft, Smith was eager to get into the classroom, dig deep into the playbook and translate all of that onto the practice field with the intent to take his game to the next level.
"I'm a sponge," he said. "I'm soaking up everything, learning as much as I can. I know I have a long ways to go to get to where I want to be."
One thing he doesn't have to worry about is the business side of his rookie season. Smith became the sixth Eagles' 2023 draft pick to sign his contract, doing so on Monday morning at the NovaCare Complex to kick off another week of the team's offseason program. Only fourth-round draft pick cornerback Kelee Ringo is unsigned.
Smith is an explosive edge player who showed at Georgia that he's able to impact games in every way. He's athletic enough to cover in space, he wins with his speed in the pass-rush game, and he is tough and tenacious setting the edge and making a positive difference stopping the run. The Eagles have a deep and talented front seven, and they expect that when Smith is on the field he will be part of a group that is going to attack opposing quarterbacks in waves and with relentlessness.
How much playing time Smith earns, of course, remains to be seen. But it is a certainty that he has high goals for himself. That's just the way he is.
"The sky's the limit always," he said the day after the Eagles made him a first-round draft pick after his outstanding career at the University of Georgia. "I don't want to set any goals or set anything, but just to be a group that works together and rushes as one unit … I just can't wait to follow and learn the different things that they do here in Philly."
Smith immediately cited working with position coach Jeremiah Washburn upon speaking to the media at the Rookie Camp the Eagles held the week following the NFL Draft, saying that Washburn was working with Smith to refine the smaller things in his game. You can be sure that the process has continued in the days and weeks of practice that have ensued since. Now that the contract part of his rookie season is out of the way, it's all football, all the time for Smith as he looks to impact the defense.