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Nolan Smith is officially a member of the Philadelphia Eagles after signing his rookie contract on Monday.
Philadelphia Eagles @Eagles
We signed LB Nolan Smith.#FlyEaglesFly pic.twitter.com/QGnvTCi6Ba
Smith’s four-year deal is expected to be worth $11.99 million with a $5.72 million signing bonus, according to Spotter.
The Eagles used their second first-round pick (No. 30 overall) to select Smith. Defensive tackle Jalen Carter, who played with Smith at Georgia, is their top pick at No. 9.
Smith was limited to eight games last season after suffering a torn pectoral muscle in an Oct. 29 win over Florida. He had 21 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks in 46 games over four seasons with the Bulldogs.
Despite the injury, Smith is considered one of the top defensive players in the 2023 NFL draft due to his elite athletic traits.
Kent Lee Platte @MathBomb
Nolan Smith was drafted with pick 30 in round 1 of the 2023 draft class. He scored 9.23 #RAS at possibly 10.00. It ranks 127 out of 1634 DE from 1987 to 2023. https://t.co/BIg4GGtOwC pic.twitter.com/8mzUYu5DHk
The only notable concern expressed about Smith is his size. she ranks in the 17th percentile or below among all edge rushers in height (6’2″), weight (238 pounds) and arm length (32⅝”).
While these measurements may have scared some teams away from drafting Smith early in the first round, the Eagles have experience getting high levels of production from a small edge-rusher.
Haason Reddick, who is smaller than Smith (6’1″ and 237 pounds), set career highs with 26 quarterback hits and 16 sacks for Philadelphia in 2022.
A big reason the Eagles were successful last season was because the depth of their defensive line allowed them to rotate players and keep them fresh later in games.
Four players on that defensive line recorded at least 11 sacks last year. Their 70 sacks as a team is tied for third most in NFL history. Javon Hargrave left as a free agent to sign with the San Francisco 49ers.
The combination of Carter and Jordan Davis will likely be tasked with replacing Hargrave’s production at defensive tackle.
Smith will be part of the Eagles’ pass-rush rotation at outside linebacker in defensive coordinator Sean Desai’s scheme. He should have a chance to step into the starting lineup quickly if his athletic attributes translate into in-game performance.