Eagles Sign First-Round LB Nolan Smith

Both of the Eagles’ first-round picks in the 2023 draft are now officially on the books. The team announced on Monday that they have signed edge rusher Nolan Smith to his four-year rookie deal.

Smith was one of multiple former Georgia defenders to be selected by the Eagles this year, joining fellow first-rounder Jalen Carter and fourth-round corner Kelee Ringo in that regard. With Smith now signed, only the latter has yet to ink his first NFL deal out of Philadelphia’s seven-man class.

Smith was a consistent contributor on the Bulldogs’ vaunted defense, a unit which was key in leading the team to consecutive national championships. The 6-3, 235-pounder’s best season came in 2021, when he totaled 4.5 sacks and eight tackles for loss. Those figures fell slightly to three and seven, respectively, last year. Smith still found himself squarely on the first-round radar given his skillset against the pass and run.

A very strong performance at the Combine led many to believe he would be one of the top edge rushers to hear his name called on draft night. Instead, Smith fell to the No. 30 slot before the Eagles added him to a draft class which already included Carter, the class’ top defensive tackle. The latter was the draft’s most polarizing figure, but Smith will join the Eagles with one of the safest floors in the class given the praise he has received on and off the field.

Size was raised as a potential concern for Smith, though his frame has yielded Haason Reddick comparisons. The veteran enjoyed a highly successful first campaign in Philadelphia last season, recording 16 sacks and a league-leading five forced fumbles. Reddick will once again be a key member of the Eagles’ pass rush, though they had several contributors in 2022 en route to registering 69 regular season sacks.

Smith will look to carve out a role alongside Reddick and the likes of Brandon Graham and Josh Sweat in his rookie season. With Graham likely nearing the end of his career, an increased role could emerge for Smith down the road, but in the immediate future he will join a deep edge rushing group aiming to repeat the Eagles’ success from last year.

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