Za’Darius Smith is a bargain and could allow for a more complete Viking defense – The Athletic

The Vikings haven’t done much from a personnel perspective to stand out from their 2021 squad despite losing 8-9. But one of the biggest differences might be in the pass rush ability. With the signing of Za’Darius Smith, the Vikings made a pretty good bet that they could have the best pair of pass rushers in the NFL. After all, Smith and Danielle Hunter took the top two spots in overall pressure in 2019, both being healthy last season.

Without Hunter in the second half of the season, the Vikings had some of the worst performances by their edge rushers in the entire NFL — the cumulative Pro Football Focus score of their non-Hunter edge defensemen was the second-worst in the NFL. Even with Hunter, they ranked 29th among NFL teams in that measurement.

Although the Vikings were able to create pressure without talent at this position, it took a master class in rush design and defensive positioning to create one-on-one matches and unblocked defenders charging the quarterback. With Smith on the roster, the Vikings can be more confident in letting the talent speak for itself and pouring more game-by-game resources into their back-end coverage. As a perceived elite player, Smith could allow for a more complete defense.

But Smith’s market wasn’t the same as other third- or fourth-contract veterans, like von Miller or

https://theathletic.com/3226310/2022/04/04/zadarius-smith-is-a-bargain-and-could-enable-a-more-complete-vikings-defense/?source=rss Za’Darius Smith is a bargain and could allow for a more complete Viking defense – The Athletic

Jake Nichol

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