Packers 2021 roster preview: Za’Darius Smith a leader on defense

Green Bay Packers, Za'Darius Smith (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Green Bay Packers, Za'Darius Smith (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

Za’Darius Smith was signed by the Green Bay Packers two years ago to help fix the pass rush.

It’s fair to say Smith has gone a long way to achieving that with double-digit sacks in consecutive seasons, while also quickly becoming a leader on defense.

Smith is one of the Packers’ most important defensive players and is set for another big year in 2021.

2020 stats

Smith started all 16 games, making 12.5 sacks, 23 quarterback hits, and he forced four fumbles.

2020 review

Smith proved his debut season in Green Bay was no fluke. His numbers weren’t quite as good as the year prior, but they were close. For the second year in a row he hit double-digit sacks.

According to Pro Football Reference, he also had 12 hurries, 11 quarterback knockdowns, and 39 pressures.

Where Smith really made a difference was with turnovers. He forced four fumbles last season compared to one the year prior, as well as making two fumble recoveries compared to zero in 2019.

Smith is a game-changer, an excellent pass rusher, and a great leader.

Will he make the roster?

Yes, 100 percent. Not only that, Smith is one of the most important players on the entire Packers roster.

What to expect in 2021

Entering his third year in Green Bay, Smith is again going to be so important to this defense. He’s their best pass rusher, makes game-changing turnovers, and is also one of the leaders in the locker room.

He’s produced double-digit sacks in consecutive seasons and helped turn around a Packers pass rush that had been struggling before he arrived.

A Pro Bowler in each of the past two seasons, Smith has shown the Baltimore Ravens why they made a mistake to let him hit free agency in 2019, and why general manager Brian Gutekunst was correct to give him a big contract.

Smith is a star and will be key to the success of a new-look defense led by Joe Barry.