Green Bay Packers pass rusher and linebacker Za'Daruius Smith is a force that teams and fans are beginning to figure out. After a dominant effort on “Monday Night Football” against the Minnesota Vikings, Smith should now be considered one of the best pass rushers in the league.
Smith leads the NFL with 81 quarterback disruptions this season (either QB pressure, hurry or sack), along with 41 tackles, 35 quarterback hits, 17 tackles for loss, and 13.5 sacks.
On Monday night, Smith recorded 10 quarterback disruptions, five tackles for loss, and 3.5 sacks.
Smith currently ranks sixth in the league in sacks and is a major part of the Packers' 12-3 record along with the team's rebirth on the defensive side of the ball.
One minute and 44 seconds showcasing Za'Darius Smith absolutely wrecking last night's game against the Minnesota Vikings pic.twitter.com/VZfTMfvVoe
— Joe Kipp (day 1 christian watson fan) (@joepkipp) December 24, 2019
What is very surprising is that Smith was not selected to the 2020 NFL Pro Bowl—instead New Orleans Saints' Cameron Jordan, San Francisco 49ers' Nick Bosa, and Minnesota Vikings' Danielle Hunter were the selected pass rushers.
As for outside linebackers, Arizona Cardinals' Chandler Jones, Chicago Bears' Khalil Mack, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Shaquil Barrett were voted in.
The Pro-Bowl snub could be a reason for Smith's stellar performance on primetime television and motivation to get his name out there for a potential All-Pro nomination.
After a Pro Bowl snub last week, #Packers LB Za'Darius Smith responds with maybe the best game of his career. David Bakhtiari wants to make sure those who decide All-Pro selections don't mess this one up:
"You're an idiot if you don't vote for him for All-Pro" pic.twitter.com/sx1qRuFMRY
— John Doran (@JohnDoranTV) December 24, 2019
After spending four seasons in Baltimore where he tallied 18.5 sacks—8.5 of which came in a contract year—Smith was signed by Green Bay to a four-year, $66 million contract. The deal was one the Packers took a risk on in trying to reinvent its defense and not let it be the teams downfall. In Smith's first season the contract already looks to be worth it.
But Green Bay also brought another pass rusher to revitalize a defense that seemed to be the weak end of its recent teams: Preston Smith. Smith is 10th in the NFL with 12 sacks.
With a plethora of talent on the defensive side of the ball like linebacker Blake Martinez, cornerbacks Jaire Alexander and Kevin King, and safeties Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage, both Smiths are able to rush the quarterback knowing the trust they have in their teammates.
Having a solid defense is a big boost entering the playoffs, and having Za'Darius Smith being able to rush opposing quarterbacks will make the Packers a strong opponent on either side of the football.
With players like T.J. Watt, Nick Bosa, Aaron Donald and Khalil Mack receiving all the attention, Za'Darius Smith should be in the conversation for Defensive Player of the Year, along with proper Pro Bowl and All-Pro accolades.