Could this be the missing piece to the Tennessee Titans pass rush?
Pop quiz, what is your favorite Marcus Smith play in the NFL?
If anyone reading this had an answer off the top of their heads I would be surprised. Most people remember Smith being the surprising first round pick in the draft a few years ago and haven’t heard his name since.
Now to be fair, that usually only means bad things for a first round pass rusher. Still, I think that everyone needs to take a step back and look at the data on Marcus Smith before rushing to a conclusion.
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First off, what does this team need more than anything else? I would argue that the answer is clearly a 3rd pass rusher.
Even more so I think they need someone who specifically can play stand up OLB behind Brian Orakpo. I don’t want to get too detailed, but ideally you have one stand up rusher and one with their hand in the dirt in this scheme.
With Derrick Morgan and Kevin Dodd a pretty good 1-2 punch at the base end position, the Titans need a guy who can stand up behind Orakpo. Enter Marcus Smith.
I reached out to Jim Cobern who everyone should follow and engage with, he is great at responding and is one of the best (if not the best) analytics experts out there in my opinion.
I asked him if he had any data on Smith. When I mentioned the Titans didn’t necessarily need a starter, just someone to fill the role we talked about earlier this is what he sent back:
“His production has not been good up to this point. But I would not be surprised with a Jerry Hughes/Pernell McPhee like second half.”
So in case you have trouble reading that, what it boils down to is that Smith has the production to beat the Pro Bowl threshold based off of decades of data. He also brings borderline All-Pro athleticism to the table, though his flexibility score only clears the Pro Bowl threshold.
That is hard to find in a pass rusher available on July 26th, and it is even rarer to find in a 25 year old free agent.
I’m going to try to add some GIFs to this article later to show why Marcus Smith actually looked like a real EDGE player in college and how if the Titans could get him back to that, they could have a steal on their hands.
However, right now the GIF service I use isn’t working so check my Twitter to see those when the website starts to work.
The quick notes are this, Smith isn’t someone you want out there to set the edge all the time (though he can kinda do that too) he is a designated pass rusher. Think about using him like the Pittsburgh Steelers use James Harrison or how the Arizona Cardinals/Atlanta Falcons used Dwight Freeney.
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Now, Marcus Smith doesn’t have anywhere near the pedigree of those guys, but he could fill the role all the same. If he can do that, it would save this team a lot of stress and it would let Brian Orakpo rest for a series and come back 100% the next series, which would be devastating to other teams.