Looking for an under the radar free agent for the New York Jets, we take a look at outside linebacker from the Ravens, Za’Darius Smith.
When we talk about the New York Jets and free agency, we talk a great deal about the big names on the list. Le’Veon Bell is on everyone’s lips, as well he should be. DeMarcus Lawrence, Dee Ford and Matt Paradis are among the names Jets fans are clamoring to see don the Green and White.
But what about the under the radar players? What about the players that we aren’t talking about that could also be an asset? Let’s spend time on players of this nature.
The Jets need a pass rush. We know. The more guys that can get to the quarterback, the better.
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This brought me to outside linebacker from the Baltimore Ravens, Za’Darius Smith.
Smith was drafted in the fourth round of the 2015 draft by the Ravens. He hasn’t been a starter very often but when he has gotten in he made the most of it.
His coming out party came last year. Smith posted 8.5 sacks, 45 total tackles, ten for loss, 25 quarterback hits, two passes defended and a forced fumble.
Keep in mind the fact that he wasn’t a full-time starter. In 2018, Smith started eight games, the most in his career.
According to Pro Football Focus, Smith was on the field for 485 pass rush snaps. With 25 quarterback hits, he laid a hit on the QB 5.1% of the time.
Dee Ford hit the quarterback 4.7% of the time. That is just a little bit of perspective.
Now, does this mean he is going to be the next Dee Ford, or DeMarcus Lawrence? Not necessarily, although he could be. It DOES mean that Za’Darius Smith is quite the productive pass rusher.
Here is a clip of just one of his sacks, this one of Marcus Mariota:
Did anyone else notice the sheer power in the pass rush? Smith just took his opponent right back into the quarterback. He can play with his hand in the dirt as well as standing up.
It’s not always about getting the big name in free agency. They don’t often actually shake free, and when they do, they don’t always perform well. Ask Trumaine Johnson.
It takes the under the radar guy that hasn’t reached his full potential yet that can often become the steal of the free agency period.
Could Za’Darius Smith be that guy for the Jets? It’s possible. It would also be wise for them to fully explore the situation. Mike Maccagnan could find his steal right here.
For more grades, advanced statistics and more at Pro Football Focus, subscribe to PFF’s EDGE or ELITE subscriptions at ProFootballFocus.com.