The Green Bay Packers have not been known to be big players in free-agency as of late. Former general manager, Ted Thompson, had always taken the draft and development approach. After the Packers relieved him of duty, they hired Brian Gutekunst to take the job. Not only was he a big spender in the off season, he also kept an eye on what was available during the year. These are the Packers 2019 free agent grades.
5. Tyler Ervin: Running Back/Returner: C
Although he only played in four games for the Packers, his impact was huge. He was explosive in the return game (26.7 yards per kick return and 9.6 yards per punt return). Ervin only had six offensive touches, but made the most of them by averaging 8.8 yards per touch. His return ability brought explosiveness to a special teams unit that lacked such ability all year.
Billy Turner: Offensive Guard: C+
After terrible guard play in 2018, the Packers signed Billy Turner to solidify the guard position. He only missed one snap this season on offense and brought very physical play to the offensive line. Although he isn’t great, he’s a capable starter who should hold down the position for a few more years.
Adrian Amos: Safety: B
Gutekunst signed Adrian Amos to fill a giant hole in our secondary. The safety position was, by far, the weakest link on the Packers defense in 2018. Amos came in with a huge pick in week one, and finished the year with 81 total tackles, one sack, two interceptions, and eight passes defensed. He brought veteran leadership and steady play to the defense.
Preston Smith: Outside Linebacker: B+
The Packers went big in free agency at pass rusher. Smith showed his worth early, compiling 1.5 sacks in week one, including the game sealing sack on fourth down. On the year, he finished with 56 total tackles, 12 sacks, four passes defensed, one interception, and one forced fumble.
Za’Darius Smith: Outside Linebacker: A
Za’Darius Smith was absolutely dominant this year. He finished with 55 total tackles, 13.5 sacks, and a forced fumble. Those stats don’t nearly show the impact he made. Per Pro Football Focus, he finished with 93 total quarterback pressures, which was the most in the NFL this season. He also finished with 37 quarterback hits, which is the most in Packers history since the NFL started tracking the stat in 2006. Smith also became just the fourth player in NFL history to record at least 37 hits in a season, joining J.J. Watt, Aaron Donald, and Shaquil Barrett. Not only was he a team leader, he became a fan favorite. Za’Darius will be a top pass rusher for years to come.
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