Za’Darius Smith – OLB
Sunday’s game against the Green Bay Packers provided Za’Darius Smith with an instant opportunity to get one over on his previous employers. The stud edge rusher was a salary-cap casualty earlier this offseason and made no secret of his desire to make those in power pay for deeming him surplus to requirements in favor of others.
The Minnesota Vikings are expecting a lot from Smith this season. Judging by his competitive debut for the organization, he could reach or even exceed some lofty targets during the campaign.
Smith was an absolute menace flying off the edge en route to one sack and two quarterback hits. His gap discipline against the run also brought much-needed stability in the face of star duo A.J. Dillon and Aaron Jones, widely regarded as one of the league’s best rushing tandems.
There was an infectious enthusiasm to Smith’s approach that was hard not to notice. His fierce drive was matched by playing with a smile on his face, which others on defense seemed to feed off to make life extremely uncomfortable for quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
This meant more to Smith. One didn’t have to examine the build-up or the game much to figure that out.
The Vikings have a prolific edge tandem with Smith and Danielle Hunter. Something that can reap significant rewards providing both players stay healthy in 2022.