5 Vikings players who have been pleasant surprises

(Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images) Za'Darius Smith
(Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images) Za'Darius Smith /
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Minnesota Vikings
(Photo by Peter van den Berg-USA TODAY Sports) Za’Darius Smith /

Za’Darius Smith, linebacker

Za’Darius Smith was the big splash the Minnesota Vikings made in free agency to pair with Danielle Hunter as the edge rushers in the new-look defense. However, his success was far from a given.

Coming off an injury, it was hard to know which version of Smith the Vikings would get with their multi-year investment. Thank goodness Smith has been healthy and focused through Minnesota’s first six games.

Heading into the bye week, Smith leads the Vikings in sacks with 5.5 and has been able to get pressure on a regular basis while Hunter has three sacks but has been used more in run support for Minnesota.’

So far, Minnesota’s big investment in former Packers’ defender Za’Darius Smith seems to be a wise one. The team as a whole is still working on meshing as a unit, particularly against mid-range or deep attacks, but Smith will be a welcome part of the unit for many years to come.