Marcus Smith got kind of a raw deal with Eagles

Marcus Smith got kind of a raw deal with Eagles

As we reflect on the biggest draft busts in Eagles history, let’s remember Marcus Smith was almost unanimously considered a reach at the time he was selected No. 26 overall in 2014. Maybe the expectations typically bestowed upon a first-round pick were never entirely fair in the first place.

When we look back at his Eagles career, let’s not forget injuries necessitated Smith move from outside linebacker to inside linebacker just a few weeks into his rookie season, then back again. Nor did Chip Kelly see fit to put Smith on the field in the first place, let alone suit up for half the season. You mean to tell me there was nothing the NFL’s 28th-ranked defense could do with all that athleticism?

Let’s also keep in mind Smith actually showed signs of life under Jim Schwartz in 2016. Of the 61 defensive ends in 4-3 schemes with at least 100 pass-rush opportunities, Smith ranked 43rd in pass-rush productivity, according to Pro Football Focus. He was not completely useless when given an opportunity.

None of which is to say the Eagles made a mistake in releasing Smith on Thursday. Aside from not being very good, he was somebody who clearly didn’t “get it,” too. That was never more evident when he skipped voluntary OTAs this past spring, then explained, “I don’t feel like I missed anything.”

Only the fight for his job.

Smith essentially vacated his roster spot with that decision after managing only 23 tackles and 4.0 sacks in his first three seasons with the Eagles. Nobody needs to feel particularly sorry for a person whose actions suggested he didn’t really want to be here.

It’s not like Smith was ever destined for stardom, either. That much was apparent just watching highlights from his 16.0-sack senior season at Louisville, often coming off the edge untouched against the likes of Rutgers, UConn and Florida International. He was AAC Defensive Player of the Year, not ACC.

Still, I can’t help but wonder if things might’ve turned out slightly different were he not treated as the child Kelly never really wanted from the get-go. Having the chance to learn and play one position – or just to play at all early in his career – could’ve gone a long way. There’s little doubt Smith’s development was stunted at least somewhat by the previous coaching staff.

Perhaps things even would’ve been different for Smith has he simply not been taken in the first round. We’ll never know or understand how much the intense scrutiny contributed to his demeanor, which much like his play on the field, left a lot to be desired.

With all of that in mind, it’s not very difficult to imagine Smith catching on somewhere else and making an impact as a situational pass rusher this season. He’s only 25, packs sub-4.7 speed into a 6-3, 265-pound frame, and once Schwartz simplified the defense and turned him loose at defensive end last season, we saw a marked difference in his performance. Albeit, his performance was still replacement level, but that was a drastic improvement over non-existent.

Should Smith experience even a modicum of success in the NFL, maybe all of the what-ifs from his time with the Eagles will finally be taken seriously. Until then, I doubt too many people really care whether one of the greatest draft busts in franchise history may have got a bit of a raw deal.

Smith also could've been a bust regardless of where he was drafted or how coaches cultivated his talent. Regardless, the Eagles also set him up to fail.

Kevin Hart finally gets his Lombardi Trophy

NBC Sports Philadelphia

Kevin Hart finally gets his Lombardi Trophy

Kevin Hart finally has his Lombardi Trophy.

Hart, a comedian and a native of Philadelphia, had a few too many adult beverages during Super Bowl LII and attempted to get to the stage for the presentation of the trophy. He was unsurprisingly denied.

But Hart refused to accept "no" for an answer.

The lesson here is, if you're big enough of a celebrity to get on the field after your hometown team wins the Super Bowl, you probably have enough coin to just buy your own trophy instead of trying to drunkenly crash the trophy presentation.

On his birthday, Embiid delivers present to fans

On his birthday, Embiid delivers present to fans

Most Sixers fans probably could've predicted the 2-0 result of the Sixers' back-to-back swing against the Knicks and the Nets, but the expenditure of energy it'd take to get there was hard to see coming. One night after needing a fourth-quarter comeback to escape from New York, the Sixers went even further down to the wire against Brooklyn at home, needing a huge final-minute three from Robert Covington and some savvy playing of the foul game from T.J. McConnell to squeak out the 120-116 win.

Both one of the biggest reasons the Nets were able to hang around and one of the biggest reasons the Sixers won anyway was the birthday boy himself, Joel Embiid. JoJo turned 24 yesterday, and he matched that with a 24-point performance -- though he needed 23 shots to get there, only hitting a Kobe-like six of them. But The Process was eminently trustworthy elsewhere in the box score: a career-high 19 boards, four assists (with only one turnover), and most importantly, an immaculate 11-11 from the foul line, where he'd been struggling recently (just 63% from the stripe this month previously). It was about as dominant a performance as our big guy could submit while being an absolute mess from the field.

And he was matched along the way by Ben Simmons. The Fresh Prince didn't notch his third consecutive triple-double, sadly, but he came damn close with his 21-8-12 line -- to go with three big steals and just two turnovers -- his highest-scoring night since he hung 32 on the Bulls in February. We've said it before, but having a superstar to carry your team when they're struggling is the ultimate luxury; having two feels downright immodest. (Simmons since All Stars were announced in late January, btw: 16-8-9 on 58% shooting and under three turnovers, with four triple-doubles and double-digit scoring in 25 out of 25 games.)

So the Sixers move to 38-30, two games up on Milwaukee in the seventh seed, half a game behind Washington at five, a full game behind Cleveland at four, and 1.5 behind Indiana at three. While the Sixers have struggled some against top-level teams in the past month -- going 1-5 in their last six games against playoff-bound opponents -- they've kept pace in the East by taking care of business against the sub-.500 teams, winning their last eight against losing squads, dating back to them taking an L against these Nets in Brooklyn at the end of January. Now they get a couple hard-earned days off before two more home games against lottery-bound squads in Charlotte and Memphis. Trust -- and celebrate -- The Process.