Za’Darius Smith: The next great Ravens pass rusher?


After losing Pernell McPhee to free agency, the Ravens looked much weaker in the pass rushing department. Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil are getting older, and Courtney Upshaw has not shown any sort of pass rushing ability since he entered the league in 2012.

The future of the Ravens’ pass rush was not bright. However, in the 4th round of the 2015 NFL Draft, they took DE/LB Za’Darius Smith from Kentucky.

Smith came out of college as an edge setter. He is strong and smart, and he seems to always be in the right place. However, since joining the Ravens, he has shown glimpses of terrific pass rushing ability. With solid athleticism and a great motor, Smith always seems to be either in the backfield or pushing the pocket.

The Ravens have gone through a lot of pass rushers in the last few years. Players like Paul Kruger, Arthur Jones, and Pernell McPhee departed for big contracts after proving themselves on the Ravens.

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In the past, players like Adalius Thomas, Bart Scott, and Jarrett Johnson have thrived as linebackers in the Ravens defensive system, despite lower draft positions (Scott was undrafted). Surrounding Smith with veterans like Suggs, Dumervil, Upshaw, and Daryl Smith will help him succeed much easier.

Za’Darius Smith has already made a name for himself in the preseason, tallying a sack and seven tackles. He has been all over the field, hustling and making plays. Both the coaches and the media have clearly taken notice, as he is being talked about more and more.

With a solid group of players around him and a great coaching staff, look for Za’Darius Smith to make an impact early in his career. Great things are coming for the young man, perhaps as early as the 2015 NFL season.

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