Shortly after I wrote the blog bout the signings of Zadarius Smith and Adrian Amos, the Packers decided to also sign OLB Preston Smith from the Washington Redskins and versatile OL Billy Turner from Denver Broncos. Let’s start with Preston Smith first.
Smith was a second round pick by the Washington Redskins out of Mississippi State in 2015. In his four years, Smith has never missed a game and started everyone one since year two. For Packer fans, that is huge. It seems like very year we are the most injured team in the NFL and lord know Clay Matthews and Nick Perry were constantly out with injuries. His availability alone is an upgrade. Smith has racked up 4 INTS, 13 PD, 4 FF, 3 FR, 24.5 sacks, 164 tackles, 29 TFL, and 59 QB hits. He also has 103 QB pressures in the last two years.
Preston and Za’Darious Smith are both only 26 and the past two years they have combined for 25 sacks. Matthews and Perry? 32 and 28 respectively and only 19.5 sacks. The Packers got much better on the edge, and they got much younger. I love that we got both starting OLB locked up for the next few years, and picking a edge rusher in the draft is now a luxury for us. I fully expect the Packers to go front 7 with one of their three picks in the top 44. You can never have enough pass rushers in this league and getting another edge rusher, or interior guy who specializes at rushing the QB in the draft would be perfect.
The front 7 of this defense is now set besides the other ILB position. We have Za’Darius Smith (OLB), Kenny Clark (DL), Mike Daniels (DL), Preston Smith (OLB), Blake Martinez (ILB), and ? The question mark is a big one. The Packers could target guys like Devin White (LSU) or Devin Bush (Michigan) in the draft, or go after another ILB in free agency like Zach Brown (WAS) who just go released today. Remember, the Packers linebackers coach is Washington’s old linebackers coach, don’t be surprised for the Packers to show interest. Personally I would like them to take White or Bush. Both guys are more instinctive, hit harder, and fly to the ball faster than Martinez.
The Packers then signed another HUGE overlooked need by most experts, and that is on the offensive line. They signed OL Billy Turner from Denver who was a third round pick in the 2014 NFL draft by the Miami Dolphins. Turner has been all over the place in just five years, the played three years with the Dolphins, then a short stint with the Baltimore Ravens, before playing in Denver the past three years. He is actually a small school guy, when to North Dakota St. and won three national championships there, but he is a big guy at 6’5 315 LBS. He was never really a starter in the league but he can play many positions and is very solid. For the Broncos last year he started four games at right tackle and seven at left guard. Now with Bulaga being out at least a few games every year it seems, and the guard positions being huge needs for the Packers, this is a good pickup. I would expect the Packers to try and start him at one of the guard positions week 1.
Regarding the O-Line prospects in the NFL Draft, its thin at the top but the Packers could take a guy like Cody Ford from Oklahoma at pick #12 who is also a versatile prospect. It’s hard to find “highlight” videos of offensive linemen, so here’s the best I got.