PHILADELPHIA – Few would have blinked if the Philadelphia Eagles drafted Georgia edge rusher Nolan Smith at No. 10 overall on Thursday night.
It took a little longer than that but the Eagles got their fourth Georgia defensive star over the last two years when they pulled the trigger on Smith at No. 30.
Philadelphia GM Howie Roseman listened to offers for the pick but he heard nothing that he liked more than Smith, an undersized blur with Von Miller-like bend off the edge.
Smith arrived in South Philadelphia Friday with enthusiasm, energy, and natural leadership skills. He shared the dais at the NovaCare Complex with his Bulldogs teammate Jalen Carter, the ultra-talented defensive tackle the Eagles selected at No. 9 overall despite some off-the-field issues that scared some other teams off.
Smith didn’t hesitate to defend Carter.
“I always stood up for him because I know that’s not him,” Smith said with Carter sitting to his right. “I know Jalen. I know JC — I don’t call him Jalen, I call him JC88. JC’s one of those guys you can really count on. Not only do his job, but he’ll do his job plus more and then come dap you up.”
Rewind back to 2022 and Smith is the fourth Georgia defender taken by the Eagles with nose tackle Jordan Davis taken off the board in the first round last April and Nakobe Dean selected in the third round.
“I’d say one thing that we show at Georgia is we have a culture program, so we believe in a culture, and they believe in a culture here at the Eagles,” Smith said. “You felt that walking in the building.”
Ironically Dean fell from potential late first-round pick to a third-rounder in 2022 due to a partially torn pec and Smith may have taken a hit for the same reason. The film and athleticism check all the boxes when it comes to Smith but some were scared off by his size (6-foot-2 and 235 pounds) and a pec injury that derailed his last college season in October.
If Smith was disappointed after slipping from potential top-15 pick to No. 30 he hid it well.
“I’m blessed to be here. I would say I go the best opportunity of all,” Smith said. “I’m playing with three of my teammates and I just won back-to-back nationals [championships] with this one [Carter]. I’m not worried about no number (of where I was picked). I’m just happy I’m here with my Dawgs.”