The ranking of the worst positions of the Vikings this offseason
June 9, 2021; Minnesota Vikings defensive back Patrick Peterson (7) and defensive back Harrison Smith (22) talk during OTA drills at the TCO Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
There have been many rankings on various sites. Some of them are better than others.
Some, like PFF and NFL Next Gen Stats, use data, while others are entirely subjective. Both of these methods are useful for evaluating players. However, some leaderboards are absolutely disrespectful to certain players.
ProFootballNetwork.com’s Dalton Miller ranked the 32 best safeties in the NFL, and a Viking made a list.
Smith has been the Vikings’ top defenseman for most of the past decade. He had arguments with setters Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen, linebacker Eric Kendricks and cornerback Xavier Rhodes. The latter was among the best in the field in his post in 2017.
However, Smith has been the most consistent of the group, as he essentially plays at an elite level every season. Over the past two years, he’s occasionally kept a young secondary and still managed to produce. Now he is 33 but shows no signs of slowing down.
Per PFF, Smith has been a top 15 safe in the NFL in all but two of his ten NFL seasons, including 2021. In four campaigns, he has finished top 5 safe and was even the first in 2017.
Miller still ranked Vikings star Smith at 16. Not the 16th best player in the league, but the 16th best player in his position. Vikings fans know how valuable he is. And they certainly know there aren’t 15 best safeties in the NFL.
“…Coverage is king in the NFL, so it’s hard to break into the top 10 if you can’t consistently produce in your specific team’s coverage pattern.” This will be very important to remember for a few of the top 10 players.”
– Dalton Miller on his ranking
Since Smith was drafted by the Vikings in 2012, he’s ranked third in interceptions, trailing only longtime Seahawk Richard Sherman and current Baltimore Raven Marcus Peters with 29 catches. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Smith has led the league in “Ball Hawk Rate” since 2018. He doesn’t just lead the league; he destroyed opponents and led by a wide margin.
What makes the ranking even worse is that he is ranked six places behind former Viking Jayron Kearse. The current Dallas Cowboy has had a great 2021 season, but putting him above Smith is an overstatement.
The lack of attention could eventually cost the former Notre Dame star a Hall of Fame bust, as he has only been named to the All-Pro first team once in his career. Smith doesn’t make splashy plays that appear weekly on flagship shows. He’s not surrounded by the hype of other players, but his game is still elite, and NFL royalty recognizes that. Just like rival QB Aaron Rodgers when he praised him.
“He [Harrison Smith] is definitely the complete package.. he’s the hardest player to figure out what he’s doing on any game.”
Bill Belichick has said similar things in the past.
NFL football savants know how good the Vikings defenseman is. It’s time for analysts to finally catch up and appreciate Smith’s greatness. He will again be the middle man in the secondary of the purple team in 2022. Adding to his role is the fact that he will play alongside a rookie who needs mentorship. The veteran is the best person to teach Lewis Cine about football.
Janik Eckardt is a football fan who loves numbers and statistics. He chose the Vikings as his favorite team, despite the fact that Christian Ponder was the quarterback at the time. He is a walking football encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms and classic rock is his favorite genre of music. Follow him on Twitter if you like Vikings: @JanikEckardt