Za’Darius Smith – LB
Za’Darius Smith was a Vikings destroyer a season ago and there is no real reason to think it’ll be any different in 2020.
In his two games against Minnesota last year, Smith had 12 tackle (five for a loss), six quarterback hits, and 3.5 sacks. He was more than the Vikings offensive line could handle and Kirk Cousins continues to still hear the Green Bay pass rusher bearing down on him when he closes his eyes at his 9:30 p.m. bedtime.
The issue for the Vikings is their offensive line. This is an area of Minnesota’s roster that is potentially even worse than what it was a season ago. The Vikings will have the same starting tackles and starting center this year, but the guard positions have some new faces.
After starting at left guard for Minnesota last year, Pat Elflein has kicked over to the right side and that is a major downgrade from Josh Kline from a season ago. Dakota Dozier takes over at left guard and while he has to be better than what Elflein was last year, that isn’t saying a whole lot.
This group hasn’t exactly gotten rave reviews during the Vikings training camp this summer and Cousins saw plenty of pressure during the dress rehearsal scrimmage a few weeks back.
Hopefully, Minnesota can game plan for Smith by having a tight end chip him at all times or have fullback C.J. Ham specifically honed in on wherever the Packers pass rusher lines up and then go after him.
If Smith can generate the same type of pressure that he did his two games against the Vikings last year, it’ll be a long and ugly day for the Minnesota offense.