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Packers Morning Buzz: 'Underappreciated' Za'Darius Smith even better than expected

Stu Courtney
Packers News
Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Za'Darius Smith (55) pressures Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) during their NFC divisional round playoff football game Sunday, January 12, 2020, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis.

Welcome to your Morning Buzz, rounding up news and views regarding the Green Bay Packers from around the web and here at PackersNews.com.

Not entirely sure how high-priced 2019 free-agent acquisition Za'Darius Smith can be considered "underappreciated," but he gets that designation as Green Bay's representative in this team-by-team analysis from NFL.com's Cynthia Frelund:

Green Bay Packers

Za'Darius Smith, OLB

Smith was a really productive free-agent acquisition in 2019 by the Packers. Next Gen Stats show that he was able to pressure opposing QBs at the second highest overall rate in the NFL (14.8 percent) among those with a minimum of 250 pass rushes. Versatility in alignment also allowed for an extremely efficient use of his skills, as he had even better results when aligned on the interior. His inside pressure rate of 19.4 percent was the highest in the NFL (minimum of 100 interior pass rushes), with the next closest player standing more than five percentage points lower (Stephon Tuitt, 14.1 percent).

You can find Frelund's picks as the "underappreciated" players for all NFC and AFC teams here:

NFL.com's Nick Shook also uses Next Gen Stats to show that Smith ranked behind only Cleveland's Myles Garrett as a "disruptor" last season:

Disruption rate: 17.5%. Sack rate: 2.8%. Total disruptions: 84. Sacks: 13.5.

Smith's disruption total is higher because, in part, he played a full season, but his performance is almost on par with that of Garrett. Smith was the face of a turnaround for the Packers defense, providing immediate returns on the lucrative free-agent deal he inked last offseason. He was a menace, pressuring the QB on 19.4 percent of pass rushes when aligned on the interior. That rate was the highest among all defenders rushing from the interior (minimum 100 interior pass rushes), leading second-place finisher Stephon Tuitt (14.1 percent) by more than 5 percentage points. Smith was second in overall pressure percentage at 14.8 percent, trailing only Garrett. He and Packers DT Kenny Clark combined for 120 QB pressures last season, the most by any teammate duo in the NFL.

Smith is officially in the category of the elite, and luckily for him, he's being paid as such.

The full story is here:

The impressive numbers haven't escaped Smith's attention:

Aaron Rodgers will keep wearing a wrist band listing Packers plays:

Mike Pettine spoke publicly for the first time since the Packers' run-defense debacle in the NFC championship game:

Rob Reischel examines the biggest questions facing the Packers' defense:

Tim Boyle's offseason has been eventful in more ways than one:

Ty Summers has experienced an interesting offseason as well:

The Packers Pro Shop and the 1919 Kitchen and Tap remain closed:

Former Packers receiver Jordy Nelson had an interesting answer when he was asked by Pat McAfee about the possibility of coming out of retirement:

The pressure to win immediately will clearly be on former Packers coach Mike McCarthy:

No surprise, but Vikings co-defensive coordinator Adam Zimmer says he's a bit more laid-back than his father Mike:

And finally .... Big Z and family enjoyed some Memorial Day weekend seafood:

Contact Stu Courtney at (920) 431-8377 or scourtney@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter at @stucourt