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Packers’ Roster Features Several Draft and Acquisition Steals

Quick question: as they pertain to Green Bay, what do these players have in common: D’Onta Foreman, Samaje Perine, Tarik Cohen, Joe Williams, Donnel Pumphrey, Brian Hill, Jeremy McNichols, and T.J. Logan. I’ll have the answer momentarily.

It astonishes me how many players have excellent college careers, and yet are chosen late in the draft or not drafted at all despite their college exploits. The Packers have feasted of late in acquiring so many unheralded and under-appreciated players.

Matt LaFleur with Aaron Jones

Green Bay Packers head coach Mike LaFleur talks with running back Aaron Jones (33) during organized team activities Tuesday, June 15, 2021, in Green Bay, Wis.


Aaron Jones

Let’s start with Aaron Jones. The guy was Mr. Everything playing for UTEP down in El Paso. He owns most of UTEPs rushing records, and in four years there, and despite some injuries, his rushing average was a gaudy 6.3 yards per carry.

In his final collegiate season in 2016, he was statistically one of the nation’s three best running backs. He tallied seven 100-plus rushing yard games, including three 200-plus yard games and a 300-plus yard contest. He scored at least one touchdown in 11 games, and had 20 TDs on the season. He set his school’s single season records for rushing yards (1,773), carries (229), and rushing average (7.7). Nationally, he ranked fourth in rushing yards and third in yards per game.

That’s not a misprint: Jones averaged 7.7 yards per carry in his final year. He did this despite having very little help. Here’s how I described Jones and UTEP back in early 2019:

“The fifth-rounder out of UTEP was virtually the only talented player in El Paso during his four years with the Miners. Every defense UTEP faced had but one focus: stopping the small but well-built running back and his lightning-quick changes-of-direction. Very few opponents held Jones down. . .From 2013 through 2016, Jones was UTEP football. Though the team had 18 wins and 31 losses in that time, they probably don’t win a half-dozen games without Aaron. Minus Jones, the Miners went winless in 2017.”

Statistically, Jones ranked among the top three collegiate rushers in 2016. Yet, he was still available when the Packers selected him with the 182nd draft pick in 2017 – eighteen running backs preceded him in that draft, including the eight players named in the first paragraph. It was a good year for RBs – the first three chosen were Leonard Fournette, Christian McCaffrey, and Dalvin Cook.

How could 31 NFL teams fail to appreciate Aaron’s talent and ability? It must have been partly due to UTEP not being a college powerhouse. Mostly, though, he was likely overlooked due to his stature: 5’9” and 208 pounds. Whatever the reason, the Packers got a steal (and a bargain) in the 2017 draft, and it’s been paying dividends ever since.

Allen Lazard

Another guy whose talent was overlooked by the rest of the league is Allen Lazard. Allen was a star receiver from 2014 through 2017 at Iowa State. In 48 games played, he racked up 241 catches, for 3,360 yards, (13.9 yard average), and 26 touchdowns. He was second team All-Big 12 in 2015 and first-team in 2016 and 2017. NFL teams picked 32 wide receivers in the 2017 draft – how did this 6’5” 227-pound receiver, and great blocker, fail to be chosen in the first four rounds, much less go undrafted?

While the Packers are to be commended for acquiring and developing Lazard, it could easily not have happened. As TP’s Jason Parker described here, Lazard finally got his chance when Green Bay played Detroit on October 14, 2019. The Pack was already without Davante Adams for the game, and then Geronimo Allison was knocked out on the first play of the second half.

Lazard, who hadn’t been targeted all season and only had one reception in 2018, found himself next man up. Down by nine at home in the fourth quarter, Rodgers hit him for a 35-yard TD to cut the lead to 2. On the final drive of the game, Rodgers found Lazard three more times, putting the Packers in position for the winning field goal as time ran out. The final score was 23-22.

The rest, as they say, is history – and there is plenty more of it to come from Lazard, who is only 25 years old. But for a rash of injuries, Lazard might have ended his pro career with one catch.

Robert Tonyan

Another Packers player who, like Aaron Jones, went unpicked in the 2017 NFL draft, Tonyan labored for five years at Indiana State – and did so largely in obscurity. He actually was a quarterback until the 6’5” 237-pounder found his niche as a receiver in year two. While Tonyan received little notice nationally at Indiana State, in 2014 he caught 54 passes for 747 yards and 4 TDS (6th best in school history) and four touchdowns; in 2015 he had 40 receptions for 601 yards and 6 TDs despite starting just six games; as a junior he received honorable mention on the All-Missouri Valley team; as a senior, he had 56 catches for 699 yards and 10 TDs.

After going undrafted, Detroit snapped him up and signed him to a 3-year $1.66M deal – but then released him before the start of the season. The Packers picked him up for the final four games of 2017 and proceeded to tender him an exclusive-rights contract in 2019.

In May Tonyan signed a tender deal for $3.4 million. It is to the Packers’ credit that they saw the promise that Tonyan held, and had the patience to help him develop. Among Tonyan’s achievements last season, he tied with Travis Kelce for most touchdowns by a tight end, and he had the league-second-best catch rate, 52 catches out of 59 throws for an incredible 88.1 percent (teammate Jamaal Williams beat him by one-tenth of a percentage point). And Big Bob managed all this without being a starter.

After watching him bloom in 2020, Packer fans are eager to see what he has in store for us in 2021.

Green Bay Packers running back Dexter Williams (22), running back A.J. Dillon (28), running back Aaron Jones (33) and running back Kylin Hill (32) participate in training camp Friday, July 30, 2021, in Green Bay, Wis. Dan Powers/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

Kylin Hill

For the current year, let’s start with Kylin Hill, who the Packers latched onto as one of the last four players taken in this year’s draft. In his third season at Mississippi State, all the 5’10” 214-pound RB did was rush for 1,350 yards (5.6 average) and 10 touchdowns. He led the talent-laden SEC in rushing yards per game, and was named second-team all-conference.

According to Fan Nation, Hill fell from being a potential Day 2 pick to one of the last picks of the draft. Likely reasons include: a new head coach installing a pass-heavy offense, a one-game suspension, and Hill then opting out of the rest of the season after just three games. Apparently scouts have short memories, as Hill’s impressive play in his first three years was blotted out by his abbreviated final year.

First of course, Hill needs to make Green Bay’s roster, and he faces some formidable rivals in that quest. It appears, however, based on the buzz out of training camp, that he’ll make the team, and likely even earn some playing time this season. We’ll have to wait to find out if Hill will prove to be another player that the rest of the league overlooked. One thing for sure: his draft placement is not a good measure of his ability.

Shemar Jean-Charles

Here’s a guy out of lower-division Appalachian State, which probably explains why other NFL teams passed on their chances to draft him. GM Gutekunst landed Jean-Charles late in the fifth draft round, at number 178 overall. While like Hill, he’s not yet assured of making the team, there’s been a lot of excitement about him leading up to and at training camp.

How did Shemar do in four active years down in Boone, North Carolina? By the time he finished up there, here are some of his achievements (mostly in 2020): first-team All-American by Walter Camp Football Foundation; All-American via Sporting News and PFF College (second team); semifinalist for the Bednarik Award (nation’s top defender) and Thorpe Award (nation’s top defensive back); PFF’s Sun Belt Player of the Year; nation’s leader as a senior with 16 pass break-ups and 17 passes defended (in 12 games); from 2019-20, his 27 passes defended (PBUs and INTs) were tops in the FBS.

In five years with the program, Shemar helped App State go 52-13, with five bowl wins and four Sun Belt Conference championships; Pro Football focus ranked him the 16th-best player in all of college football in 2020. That’s not a misprint either.

Until Jaire Alexander emerged as a shutdown CB last season, the Packers have lacked a really clingy defensive back for at least half a decade; If Jean-Charles’ ability as a pass defender translates to the pros, the Packers might suddenly have two of the league’s best CBs.


The above five players turned in a great deal of impressive play as collegians, but failed to get the attention at draft time that they appear to have merited. Three of them, Jones, Lazard, and Tonyan, have been instrumental in the Packers garnering a 26-6 regular season record over the past two seasons. Rookies Hill and Jean-Charles are unproven as professionals, though their college exploits strongly suggest that they too have been underrated by the rest of the league.

In this challenging era of salary cap restrictions, the Packers have managed to add several talented and valuable players to their rosters without expending high draft choices or handing out mega-dollar contracts. Both Ted Thompson and Brian Gutekunst have excelled at spotting talent and potential at the bargain rack.

Who knows, maybe in a couple years Packer fans will be singing the praises of some other undrafted rising star or stars, like Iowa’s Jack Heflin (who just popped up on the team’s depth chart as first backup to Kingsley Keke). . .or Virginia Tech’s Yosh Nijman (first backup to David Bakhtiari). . .or Michigan’s Ben Braden (first backup to Lucas Patrick). . .or Baylor’s Henry Black (first backup to Darnell Savage). . .or Colorado’s Kabion Ento. . .or Indiana State’s Dominique Dafney. . .or Ferris State’s Malik Taylor. . ..or Utah State’s Tipa Galeai. . .or Illinois State’s Christian Uphoff. Who among this group will be Green Bay’s next Robert Tonyan or Allen Lazard? What’s your guess?

Rob Born

Smart drafters don’t select the best available players, they fill a team’s positions of greatest need.



  1. Mitch Anthony August 12, 2021

    Another guy whose talent was overlooked by the rest of the league is Allen Lazard. You bet.

    The Green Bay Packers almost overlooked his talent too. Remember, he was stashed on the Practice Squad. He could have very well been the one that got away had someone took the time to look at his pre-season play in 2017 and plucked him away.

    Allen Lazard is nobody’s threat to become a #2 WR, but he is pretty damn good. He’s big, he muscles for the ball in a fight, he may not be lightning quick but he catches footballs, and as Rob mentioned – he has good blocking skills. Hope he’s around for a while.

    1. Dean August 12, 2021

      I believe Rodgers lobbied to get Lazard into the Monday night Detroit game. Seems like the Pack were doing everything possible to lose that game until Allan made a bunch of big time catches. Sure was fun walking out of the stadium after that win.

  2. Dean August 12, 2021

    I like the converted WR to CB – Kabion Ento. He has stood out at training camp this year and 2 years ago when I saw him at practice. Got hurt last year and missed the season but he seems to have made great progress for not playing CB very long.

    1. PF4L August 12, 2021

      Then you might be interested in the new cornerback they just signed.
      WR converted to corner in his Senior season in College (5 picks)
      Dominique Martin

  3. Dean August 12, 2021

    My second choice is Krys Barnes at ILB. Was undrafted last year and was a surprise game one starter last year. He is playing lighter this year.

    1. Mick August 13, 2021

      It will be interesting to see what Joe Barry does with Barnes and new acquisition DeVondre Campbell from the Cardinals; at the ILB position. During the offseason, even Gute acknowledged that the ILB position was a weak spot on the defense. (And has been for a long time)

      1. Mick August 13, 2021

        By the way Rob, another good article!

        1. PED August 13, 2021

          Great article. Thanks Rob! GPG

      2. PF4L August 13, 2021

        Something puzzles me about Campbell, somethings off kilter.
        Here’s a guy, a 4th round draft choice, who started 70 out of 75 games he played. Why….would 2 teams not want to keep him around in his prime?
        Also….why does a starter like that settle for a 1 year 2 million dollar deal. that’s not even close to starter money. That’s the kind of money you sign for, when nobody else wants you.
        That is (should be) Kevin King money
        I’m not trying to bag on him, it just doesn’t make much sense. What’s wrong with him? Is he not personable? His bench press (upper body) weak?
        I checked PFF and he had one season with a decent grade 68.3 a few years back. The rest of his scores? Let me put it this way.
        What does Devin Funchess and MVS’s catch rate have in common with Campbells remaining PFF grades? Hell, one year he graded out under 50.
        But yet….he started all those games and he was easily dismissed in his prime? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
        I just don’t get it

        1. Dean August 13, 2021

          Some guys have not played up to their physical potential. Maybe, a new defensive coordinator or system can help.

          1. Dean August 15, 2021

            It was just one preseason game but ILB Burks looked good the whole 1st half.

          2. PF4L August 15, 2021

            Yes, and if he could play the Texans back ups all year, he might be a Pro Bowl candidate.

  4. PF4L August 12, 2021

    In 2015, some fans in here…Kato, Rebel, etc… were bagging on Rodgers to be benched for Hundley.
    So after the 2015 season i had to have a heart to heart chat with Mr. Rodgers to “straighten his ass out.”
    It went something like this……(think sarcasm)
    PF4L January 30, 2016
    “If Rodgers can get back to the fundamentals that made him great…..” – Shawn

    No kidding. I wish this guy could re-learn his position. The man has lost it, he might be finished. If other Packer players performance had any kind of impact on how he plays, i wouldn’t judge him so harshly. But now i’m pissed.

    I think the problem is probably Olivia. i have no other explanation.

    3,800 yards, 31 td’s, 8 picks, 92.7 passer rating? Are you kidding me with this? You better get your shit together Mr. Rodgers. These #’s may be a great year for Brett Favre or Andrew Luck, but you pull this shit one more time Mister, and it’s a one way Greyhound ticket out of Titletown!

    And don’t give us all that bullshit about the leagues 2nd most dropped passes, how your receivers can’t get open in the 2.1 seconds your 0 line gives you. and don’t you even start whining about getting sacked 46 times, or getting hit 249 times. All that shit is on you, and you alone.

    You get that passer rating north of 115, or win a MVP, or you can ride the pine and you’ll be carrying Hundley’s equipment to the practice field for him.

    Straighten up fucker, and get back to the fundamentals.

  5. PF4L August 13, 2021

    Quick question: as they pertain to Green Bay, what do these players have in common: None of them play for the Green Bay Packers?
    Rob…Robster…my favorite writer here at TP.
    There are thousands of players that have entered the NFL unheralded, but had very nice college careers.
    As long as you have mid and late draft picks and hundreds of UDFA’s signed each year to NFL teams, you will have a minority segment that finds a nice career in the NFL or at the least, a standout season.
    That has been a constant since before i was born.

  6. PF4L August 15, 2021

    Because….it’s entertaining (to me anyway)
    New article this morning before 8:00 AM covering the Packers/Houston game (go figure right?).
    “What we learned: It still isn’t clicking for Josh Jackson”
    “For the last few seasons, it seems like we’ve all been waiting for Josh Jackson to finally emerge and make a big impact for the Packers. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case and his performance Saturday night showed little signs of progress. This preseason was a huge opportunity for him to prove himself and, from the looks of it, his roster spot looks like it’s in jeopardy.

    Although he’s been a difference maker on special teams, Green Bay certainly wants more from him defensively than what they’ve been getting.” – Sarah Kelliher
    What was she expecting?
    The 4th year leap?
    His first interception after 3 seasons?
    Maybe his first FF.
    But at least he’s a “difference maker” on special teams?
    I’m confused….what difference has he made on special teams?
    Did he improve their grades or rankings?
    SMFH…..Can you get me a beer sweet cheeks?
    If we get an article and participation, i will go through the game with views of what i saw.
    For now, i’ll finish reading this other article and the 38 comments posted so far.

    1. PF4L August 15, 2021

      She list Jordan Love as the games MVP….ummmm…No
      Devin Funchess was the clear MVP, without him and that (off throw) circus catch that drive doesn’t happen.
      Honorable mention Jordan Love, Kylin Hill.
      Kylin Hill 22 yard TD pass
      Reality….Hill caught Loves pass 3 yards behind (planned) the line of scrimmage. Much like many of Loves little dink passes in his first two series.
      The play itself….was pulled off masterfully.
      As the play developed, i was like…why did Thompkins run right past Hargreaves. But then, here comes Big Josh Meyers and Patrick Lucas for play designed blocking duty.
      Lucas came up on Hargreaves (wanted nothing to do with anything at that point)
      Meyers came over to block Kamu Hill.
      And forgotten Thompkins picked up safety Eric Murray.
      Damn nice play, excellent execution!!
      I understand that Hill had a shitty game running the ball…i get it, and i don’t care.
      The Packers have 16 offensive lineman on their roster.
      Where is all the great depth we’ve been hearing about?
      None of these fucks can run block?…Really?
      The Packers had…(sit down)..3 yards rushing at halftime…wtf, against the Texans?
      In related….Dexter Williams saved the day on 4 rushes for 32 yards
      Meaning…instead of describing the run game as truly pathetic, it is now described as well below average.
      Deep depth on the O line?
      Yea…ok…maybe we should draft some more lineman?
      This…against the Texans scrubs.
      Everyone, keep your panties on about my take on Love, there are positives to come.

    2. Mick August 15, 2021

      After watching the Texans game last night, Josh Jackson was continually picked on in the passing game. The Texans DC knew that Jackson has been struggling since he was drafted. Now in his 4th year, under 2 different DCs’; it’s plain to see this guy just doesn’t have the foot speed to cover receivers in the NFL. I think that’s why he plays so far off the receiver because he doesn’t trust himself. It’s time to cut bait. At some point in a 4 year span, the light should come on. This is one of those scenarios where GB keeps these type of players too long on the roster, hoping that player will finally break through. Jackson would have been gone in Belichicks’ system after 2 years. We’ve been hearing J. Barry wants to be more aggressive on D, and tighter coverage in the secondary. I just don’t see it with Jackson.

  7. Stiggy August 15, 2021

    Twitter is announcing love the next great qb after throwing a nice strike to Sternberger for 30 yards or so. It was def a nice throw but let’s be honest…

    Had a clean pocket
    Jace wasn’t covered at all giving him a huge window to throw in
    Looked down Jace the entire time.

    I’m not gonna fault love for a good play but that was nothing more than a routine throw even 3rd string qbs should make.

  8. Mitch Anthony August 15, 2021

    Liked what I saw from Jack Heflin. That big guy moved pretty quick to get a shoe string tackle. Keep that up Jack.

    I’ve moved on from Josh Jackson, I hope the Packers do too. I’m willing to give Burks a little more of a chance to prove he should stay but, I dunno. Burks better absolutely light it up in pre-season to show he should stay – after all this time. It cost two mid round draft picks to land Oren Burks, it might finally be time to show it was worth it for more than a special teams player.

    Speaking of special teams. There’s still a lot of work there. A lot. I actually looked for Ron Zook on the sidelines.

    Funchess definitely makes it. Ento should also stick around, there’s some promise there.

  9. PF4L August 15, 2021

    Post game talk…Gary Ellerson was praising Burks last night after the game. Nothing wrong with that, and giving props to Funchess.
    But perspective….what do those two have more than most of the players on that field?
    A) They’ve been able to make and stay on a NFL roster for years.
    B) Experience and playing time in the NFL.
    So yea…they have a leg up and should be able to do some things right?
    Ellerson was excited and bragged that Burks play reminded him of how he played in College.
    He attributed it to Burks being healthy. What?….he hasn’t been healthy at all the last 3 years?
    God bless Gary’s simple mind…..
    But maybe the reason he looked like he did in College is because…..who is he playing against?
    Mitch, Ento got some time at right corner. Hell…i even saw Burks out there and i think Ty Summers.
    My question would be is why did Stokes only play in (14 snaps) the first two series?
    That would have been my first question to LaFleur.
    Stigg…good observation on Love’s staring down his target. against starting caliber NFL players that will bite you in the ass quite a bit.
    But he showed some other good things. Not staring receivers down is a learned art he probably didn’t utilize in College so he has to acquire that skill.
    Plus…i think he is night and day different compared to that other waste…Brett Hundley
    Fun Fact: I thought….J’Mon Moore was sitting at home. He’s a Falcon. His fourth team in the NFL after spending time on the Browns and Texans practice squad the last 2 seasons. His productive days are still owned by Green Bay though.
    2 catches for 15 yards and only 1 fumble.
    I ripped on the Packers having only 3 yards rushing in the first half, but….
    The Falcons….had only 6 yards in the first half, of total offense. WOW.

  10. PF4L August 15, 2021

    This post is to give props to this website, the owner and it’s writers, nothing more to read into it.
    When it’s earned, its earned.
    The owner of another website berated a commenter after he posted this….
    Name withheld
    August 14, 2021 at 11:48 pm

    An incredibly joyous PR spin on a one-sided loss. It also seems charitable to award MVP honors to Love when Funchess was the true standout on offense. Oh, well…
    Response…(not by the author)
    Name withheld
    August 15, 2021 at 12:01 am

    Harold – do you even know what you’re looking at?
    Name withheld…
    August 15, 2021 at 07:35 am

    Thanks for the insulting reply given that you rarely if ever comment on some of the more outrageous statements made by other commentators. My point is simple: I don’t think that any game report that tries to paint a one-sided loss in fairly glowing terms is very illuminating.
    My point is this…..We largely don’t have to worry about JP “stepping in” and bullying readers here.
    (If he did, i’d have to send Kato to go kick his ass.)
    I think if a writer has a problem with a comment, fine….then write a response like an adult if they disagree.
    We have almost unquestionable freedom.
    Even little punk ass cunts like Tommy can post whatever it feels like.
    So….it’s not perfect, but it’s the best thing going.
    In the past i’ve said these same things, and also acknowledged the writers do take their share of shit (mostly from me :).
    But again….they are free to respond.
    I have NO doubt responses in the past/present are made under “new names” whether by a writer or a reader.
    But that’s ok because very few people in here doubt that happens. It’s just not all that respected.
    BTW…i lasted only a few weeks on that other website because i had a fairly sharp mouth :) (hard to believe, i know)
    No i didn’t bring up Moms, sisters and nieces, i leave that up to the LGBTQFSYUE community…(not that there’s anything wrong with that). PC bitches!
    But the kool aid was always flat and warm and frankly… i got a bit of an attitude over it :)
    So in conclusion….hats off JP.
    Thank you.

    1. Cheese August 16, 2021

      I know it’s preseason so I could care less which team wins but at least make it exciting. I went to this game and aside from that one touchdown, the whole game was extremely underwhelming. How someone could turn this into “an incredibly joyous PR spin” is beyond me.
      Some things I noticed at the game-
      -Josh Jackson got beat on that out route A LOT.
      -Funchess had a good showing.
      -Benkert started out slinging it until that fumble.
      -Love ended the night with a 110.4 QBR which gives me a total stat chubby. Heck, they should move on from Rodgers already so we can all finally have a new girlfriend. (This is what sarcasm looks like)
      -Whoever thought it was a good idea to play random 10 second song clips between EVERY. SINGLE. PLAY. needs a kick in the ass. What happened to the “Go Pack Go” melody that leads to crowd chants? It only happened once all game. What happened to the “D”-“FENCE” chant? None at all. You can’t tell me that defense couldn’t have used a little pick me up. Nobody cares about ever changing micro doses of 100 different songs from the past 20 years. AND, if you’re gonna play full songs when both teams practice before the game, you should probably make sure they don’t contain profanity and sexual connotations when the stadium is filled with kids. That doesn’t make for a very “family” environment, Mr. Murphy.
      Yes, it is nice to have a place where we can speak freely. It is better to have freedom and the things that come along with it than the opposite side of that coin. Kudos to TotalPackers.

  11. PF4L August 17, 2021

    Here’s what i noticed…..
    Love looked like a NFL QB in the 3rd (scoring) series after two 3 n outs.
    Benkert looked like a NFL QB firing off ropes before the fumble.
    Kylin Hills catch and run for a TD, plus the execution of that entire play was NFL worthy.
    Now…if you take those two series out of the equation, i would grade the Packers performance at a C -.
    And i think, that is being damn generous.
    It’s a good thing that Love doesn’t have to compete and be compared to Rodgers this pre-season.
    I think he might have his hands full with Benkert.
    We’ll see how that shakes out.
    One thing that i can guarantee (because of course, i know everything :)
    The Packers will keep 3 QB’s again this season…and you can take that to the bank sweetheart.

  12. Tom M August 18, 2021

    Benkert will be on the practice squad. Not on the active roster. We’ll keep just two QB. Just about everyone who played in the second half will be bagging groceries or working construction come September. And that’s for both teams. The preseason is to determine the last 5 to 8 roster spots and to fill out the practice squad. And to stay healthy. That’s why 30 players sat out that game and it only will continue the next two preseason games. If last year showed us anything, it’s these preseason games are as meaningless as your stupid grades.

    1. PF4L August 18, 2021

      Did i say active roster?
      Hmmm….i don’t think i wrote active roster.
      Let me check again….Nope, pretty sure i didn’t say active roster
      I thought i said they will keep 3 QB’s
      But a day you couldn’t make shit up on what i say, would be a day wasted in here for you, right Kitty?
      I can’t make predictions (or make things up) and have a 20% success rate like you do. You are the Master. No wonder why you act like the authority. Maybe because of enlightening post like this….
      Tom M July 11, 2021
      As far as Rashan Gary. He’ll start opposite Za’Darious Smith. You can take that to the bank sweetheart….