I don’t know who Doug Farrar is, but we should all love him unconditionally.
For USA Today’s Touchdown Wire, Farrar tabbed former Kentucky Wildcat and current Green Bay Packers outside linebacker, Za’Darius Smith, as the TOP edge defender in the entire NFL for the coming season, and he doesn’t believe it will be a particularly close race, either.
Okay, back to football. Continuing the positional lists @MarkSchofield and myself are doing this month, here's my list of the NFL's top 11 edge defenders, with a little help on defining what makes a good pass-rusher from @MitchSchwartz71. https://t.co/8cCGZOluvs
— Doug Farrar (@NFL_DougFarrar) July 17, 2020
Here’s what Farrar had to say about Smith’s impressive 2019 campaign and his future going forward.
It’s not that Smith was unspectacular during his four seasons with the Ravens — he put up 18.5 sacks in that time, including 8.5 and 61 total pressures in 2018. But after he signed a four-year, $66 million contract with the Packers in March, 2019, all hell broke loose. Paired with fellow free-agent acquisition Preston Smith on the edge, and the perennially underrated Kenny Clark on the inside, Smith was able to work opposing offensive linemen as never before. The 15.5 sacks in the 2019 season were nice, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. Smith led the NFL with 105 total pressures, the most by any edge defender since Von Miller matched that total in 2015, and he did it from all over the field — everywhere from wide-nine end to inside linebacker. Wherever he aligned, trouble was coming for opposing quarterbacks. As great as he was on the edge, he was perhaps more effective inside the tackles.
There was no edge defender more effective in 2019 than Za’Darius Smith, and there’s no reason to think the same won’t be true in 2020.
It’s no secret that Smith exploded onto the scene in 2019 with his tenacious ability to chase after the quarterback. This was just his first season with the Packers, as well. It’s easy to understand why so many have high hopes for Smith going into next season (even if Madden doesn’t think so).