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Za’Darius Smith cracks NFL’s top 100 players

A nice honor for the former Wildcat.

Cleveland Browns Offseason Workout Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

The dog days of the NFL offseason are almost over, and with the nearing of the new season comes fresh rankings of the league’s best players.

One of those that is slowly being released by is a listing of the league’s top players. For the third time in four seasons, former Kentucky Wildcats standout Za’Darius Smith has seen him named shown as a top-100 player.

Here’s what Christian Gonzales wrote under Smith’s No. 84 ranking. Smith is just behind offensive lineman Terron Armstead and just in front of offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil, two well-known tackles.

“Smith has made three out of the last four Pro Bowls on two different teams. In his eighth season, the pass rusher led the Vikings with 24 QB hits and 15 tackles for loss. Smith was only one of two Vikings (Danielle Hunter) in 2022 to record 10 or more sacks. Despite his trade to Cleveland this offseason, Smith has proven he can still pressure quarterbacks in the pocket,” Gonzales wrote.

Smith ended the 2019, 2020, and 2022 seasons with 10 or more sacks in each. He posted 44 tackles and 10 sacks last season before being dealt to the Cleveland Browns.

Before his pro career, Smith transferred to Kentucky from East Mississippi Community College, had a productive two-year career, then was taken in the fourth round of the 2015 NFL Draft.

He spent four seasons in Baltimore before breaking out as a star defensive end in Green Bay. His first two seasons with the Packers, Smith totaled 26 sacks and 107 tackles. Smith missed most of the 2021 season.

Smith will join superstar defensive end Myles Garrett on a ferocious defensive line for Cleveland. On a team led by All-Pro Nick Chubb, expectations are once again high after a disappointing 2022 campaign for the Browns.