The Seahawks signed the former Eagles first-round pick on July 28. The 25-year-old Smith has played all 37 games in his career as a defensive end. But since the Seahawks started training camp, Smith has been working with the linebacker group, according to the Seattle Times.
The initial thought about this is that the Seahawks are trying to get Smith comfortable at linebacker. With his experience at defensive end, he could be a versatile backup. Seattle does not have much depth at linebacker. They have even addressed it even more the past couple with the signing of Mike Morgan. But if Smith can play at linebacker, it could save them a roster spot with his ability to play two positions.
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However, could this be even more than just Seattle adding depth? With Bobby Wagner at middle linebacker and K.J Wright as the weakside linebacker, Seattle is still looking for a starting strongside linebacker. This spot has been an open competition ever since the departure of Bruce Irvin. Could Smith come in and fill that spot? The Seahawks may be able to make it work.
The strongside linebacker in Kris Richard’s defense is primarily used as a pass rusher who will occasionally drop into coverage. With Smith’s experience as a defensive end, he has the ability to rush the quarterback. However, Smith only has four sacks in his three-year career. But with a defense that is loaded with pass rushers and playmakers, it would be very unlikely that Smith would ever be the focus of a pass protection. This could give him more opportunities to get to the quarterback.
All this comes down to if he can get comfortable to drop into coverage. Coming out of college, some of his strengths were his athleticism and agility. If he still has that athleticism, it would make the transition even easier for Smith.
Pete Carroll has never shied away from reclamation projects. Smith is another one of those projects. Smith still has talent, and now he has a lot of pressure to prove that he can become a contributor for a NFL team. If Smith can prove that he can play at linebacker, the Seahawks may have found their third starting linebacker for this year and the future. Smith will be a player to keep track of during training camp and the preseason. Whatever happens with Smith, this is a low-risk, potentially high-reward signing for Seattle.