The Eagles selected Georgia EDGE rusher Nolan Smith with the 30th overall pick of the 2023 NFL Draft Thursday night.
The pick follows after the Eagles selected Smith’s teammate, Jalen Carter, with the ninth overall pick.
Smith will join former Bulldogs Carter, Jordan Davis and Nakobe Dean on the Eagles.
Smith is a bit undersized at 6-foot-2, 238 pounds for a pass rusher, but he’s a quick-twitch athlete who plays much bigger than his size.
Last season with the Bulldogs, Smith played in eight games and had 18 tackles and three sacks. He suffered a season-ending torn-pectoral muscle last year.
Smith, 22, is undersized but has special speed that could make him a really dangerous player at the NFL level. At least that’s what the Eagles are hoping.
At the Combine in February, Smith ran an insane 4.39 in the 40-yard dash. To put that time into perspective, it’s actually faster than Tennessee wideout Jalin Hyatt, a speedy receiver who will likely be drafted before Day 2 is over.
And it’s not just pure speed either. Smith also had a vertical jump of over 41 inches and a broad jump of 128 inches. Freakish athleticism.
Smith blew up the NFL Combine, where he ran a 4.39 40-yard dash at 240 pounds, had a 41.5″ vertical, and a 10’8″ broad jump. Smith had 20 career tackles for a loss and 12.5 sacks at Georgia. He will plug into a defense that already has Haason Reddick, who many compare Smith to, as well as Brandon Graham.
The Eagles’ defensive line after Day 1 of the NFL Draft is an elite group. Reddick, Davis, Graham, Fletcher Cox, Carter, and now Smith is a group that will give offenses fits.
The representation of exclusively Power Five players in the first round comes just one year after players from AAC schools like Cincinnati, Tulsa were taken in the first round in addition to former FCS players from Chattanooga and Northern Iowa.
Alabama, Georgia and Ohio State led the way in team representation with three players apiece picked in the first round while Iowa and Clemson also had two players picked. This marked the first year in which the first 15 players all came from the same three conferences, and that number eventually grew to 16 before the New England Patriots took cornerback Christian Gonzalez of Oregon with the No. 17 pick. Until then, all draftees came from the Big 12, Big Ten or SEC.
It was a banner night for the Iowa schools as Iowa State saw a player picked in the first round for the first time since 1973 when EDGE rusher Will McDonald IV went No. 15 overall to the Jets. Iowa also saw its tally of first-round picks from the past five years rise to six with EDGE rusher Lukas Van Ness and linebacker Jack Campbell taken in the first round.
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