David Bakhtiari was named an All-Pro offensive tackle for the fourth consecutive season on Friday morning when the Associated Press unveiled this year’s rosters, but the snubbing of one of his Green Bay Packers teammates seems likely to rub him the wrong way.
While Bakhtiari received five votes at his position and made the second team, there was no such love for Packers outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith after he finished the 2019 season with the most total pressures in the NFL. Smith received just nine votes and finished fifth among edge rushers in the voting behind Chandler Jones (32), T.J. Watt (22), Shaquil Barrett (18) and Cameron Jordan (12). Jones made the first team, while Watt and Barrett were second-teamers.
Bakhtiari was none too pleased when Smith was snubbed from the Pro Bowl roster a few weeks ago, calling the selection process “flawed” for leaving out “the best player on our team.”
Smith finished his first regular season with the Packers as the only player in the NFL with 90 or more pressures while also tallying 17 tackles for loss. He also became just the fourth player to finish a season with at least 37 quarterback hits since the stat started being tracked in 2006, tying for the most in the league with Barrett. His 13.5 sacks, however, were at least one fewer than each of the four voted ahead of him and might have been a deciding factor against him.
Other Packers receiving votes were inside linebacker Blake Martinez, running back Aaron Jones and defensive back Tramon Williams. The Packers were the only of the 12 playoff teams without a first-team All-Pro, not that such a distinction bothers head coach Matt LaFleur.
“I think that’s just a credit to the collective unit, everybody playing together doing their 1/11th,” LaFleur told reporters on Friday. “I’m glad they didn’t ask me because I certainly would have voted for a couple of our guys, but it is what it is.”
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LaFleur Happy With Packers Offensive Line’s Season
It comes as no surprise to LaFleur that Bakhtiari was picked for the All-Pro roster, calling his season, in a word, “outstanding” when speaking with reporters on Friday afternoon. The first-year Packers coach has a lot of faith in both of his veteran tackles, including Bryan Bulaga on the right side.
“You get less concerned about sticking him on an island,” LaFleur said of Bakhtiari and his abilities. “I feel like that on either side with him and Bryan. I’ve been teams where you’ve got to make sure the slide is going a certain way so you’re not on those man-to-man blocks, but when you have two tackles as good as they are, it really doesn’t matter. It’s mostly concept-driven at that point.”
The Packers offensive line has looked good in passing protection this season, drawing compliments from Aaron Rodgers in multiple postgames. According to ESPN statistics, the Packers were the most successful pass-blocking team in the NFL with a 72 percent win rate ahead of Baltimore (69 percent) and Indianapolis (65 percent). Bakhtiari led all NFL tackles with a 96 percent individual pass-block win rate while starting center Corey Linsley (99 percent) also led his position.
The accomplishments of the offensive line are more impressive when you consider two of the five starters weren’t even on the team last season. Billy Turner was one of four major free-agent signings for general manager Brian Gutekunst this past offseason and has lived up to his money at right guard. Meanwhile, rookie Elgton Jenkins has lived beyond his money after allowing no sacks and few pressures during his NFL debut season in 2019.
“I think really our offensive line did a great job all year long,” LaFleur said, “and we need them to play big for us moving forward.”