Florida State LB Telvin Smith reportedly visited the Eagles; thoughts on his fit in the Birds' defense
The Eagles reportedly brought Florida State LB Telvin Smith in for a visit, according to Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post. Smith is a very interesting player. At 6'3, 218, it makes sense for teams to want to convert Smith to safety. In speaking with Smith at the Senior Bowl, he was clear that he wants no part of moving to safety. "I'm a linebacker," said Smith. He'd be a very undersized, but very explosive linebacker in the pros. His spider chart:
Smith is a very intelligent player. He reads screens really well, and understands offensive line play. On blitzes, he does a good job patiently letting opposing offensive linemen commit to their blocks, then he'll explode through the line after the QB when a lane opens up. Slower LBs typically can't do that effectively, but an explosive player like Smith can.
He is also a very passionate player. That's clear when watching him. You might even call him a hot head, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, as long he can control it. I'll take a player who cares way too much over one who doesn't care enough any day. At the Senior Bowl, Smith could be heard loudly barking out assignments and getting his teammates lined up properly.
For a guy his size, you would think he would struggle with shedding blocks once linemen get their hands on him, but he does a better job disengaging than a 218 pound LB should. However, he's not a thumper by any stretch. Even if he were a safety, Smith would not be considered a guy who can lay the wood the same way other safeties like Louisville's Calvin Pryor, Washington State's Deone Bucannon and FSU's Lamarcus Joyner can. If you watch a highlight reel of Smith, you'll see him get a few nice hits, but more often than not, when he gets a good shot on a ball carrier, they typically fall forward anyway. He'll also occasionally over-run and whiff on plays on the perimeter, Mychal Kendricks style.
Smith's real value projects as a cover linebacker, although that is somewhat overstated. He's small in terms of weight, but in terms of height, at 6'3, he can match up with any opposing TE in the passing game, and has the ability to run with anyone. However, he's not as polished there as is perceived, but there's room for improvement at the next level.
Smith is a special athlete. Watch this INT, and what he does with it after he has the ball in his hands, keeping in mind that again, he's a linebacker.
At 218 pounds, it's hard to imagine Smith being able to play ILB in a 3-4, so his fit with the Eagles seems doubtful. He could contribute on special teams immediately (he played specials at FSU), and be a very effective situational passing down player in Philly's scheme, but is a specialized player who may not be able to play all 3 downs in a 3-4 worth a pick in... say, the 3rd round? Or if you try to bulk him up, do you risk losing his explosiveness? That's what the Eagles will have to figure out with Smith. It's certainly interesting that they brought him in for a visit.
On a side note, at the Senior Bowl, Smith went out of his way at a banquet dinner to approach me and tell me I look like Kurt Warner.
Very affable, funny guy.
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