Sep 29, 2013; London, UNITED KINGDOM; Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Heath Miller (83) is tackled by Minnesota Vikings safeties Harrison Smith (22) and Mistral Raymond (41) in the NFL International Series game at Wembley Stadium. The Vikings defeated the Steelers 34-27. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota Vikings Position Battle: Safeties

It’s that time of year where a team is loaded up on talent at many positions.  Sadly, not all of those players will go on to make the 53 man roster or the practice squad.  This the the final installment in the Minnesota Vikings position battle series and is all about the safeties!

Let’s take a look at the safeties currently on the roster:

Here’s a quick breakdown of each of these guys:

Aug 15, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles safety Kurt Coleman (42) during the second quarter against the Carolina Panthers at Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles defeated the Panthers 14-9. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Kurt Coleman is a former member of the Philadelphia Eagles who was drafted in the seventh round of the 2010 NFL Draft.  He came to the Minnesota Vikings this year to compete for a starting job.  He is best known for his October 16, 2011 game against the Washington Redskins, where he intercepted Rex Grossman three times and was named Defensive Player of the Week.

Harrison Smith is a fan favorite.  His hard hitting style can terrify wide receivers and intimidate ball carriers.  In addition to his hard hits, Smith has also shown the ability to be a ball hawk.  In his 24 games played, he has 5 interceptions and two fumble recoveries.  Smith should be considered the only “safe” starter at safety.

Brandan Bishop was an undrafted free agent pickup of the team last year.  He stuck with the squad through the year and hopes to make a name for himself this year.  He has good size and speed for a safety, but is facing a lot of competition from more experienced and more refined players for a job. He will need to play very well this preseason to earn a spot on the roster.

Antone Exum was a 6th round draft pick in this year’s draft.  A torn ACL in 2013 really made his draft stock plummet.  Had he remained healthy, some experts saw him as a potential early 2nd round pick.  Exum played all over in the secondary while attending Virginia Tech.  He will need to prove that he’s healthy and play at a high level in order to win a starting job or roster spot.

Dec 15, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings safety Harrison Smith (22) talks with safety Jamarca Sanford (33) during a timeout in the game with the Philadelphia Eagles at Mall of America Field at H.H.H. Metrodome. The Vikings win 48-30. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Jamarca Sanford has been with the Minnesota Vikings for five seasons, but only really flashed well in 2011 when he had two interceptions and two fumble recoveries in his first year as a starter.  Since then, we’ve seen him lose the starting job on a couple occasions and will have to win over this new coaching staff in order to get the starting nod again.

Andrew Sendejo was impressive in his time as a starter last year.  He got his first career interception and tallied over 50 tackles in his 10 games started.  Prior to his opporutnity, Sendejo was seen primarily as a special teamer who could play safety in a pinch, but now it appears that he is much more valuable than that.  I expect him to continue to impress this year.

Robert Blanton is a converted cornerback who was a former teammate of Harrison Smith at Notre Dame.  Although he started 3 games last year, it’s hard to know what to expect from him.  Blanton is a young player who is still growing and developing, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if ends up the odd man out, but I’d expect another team to be interested in him if he doesn’t make the cut.

Mistral Raymond was a 6th round pick of the Minnesota Vikings in 2011.  Since then, he’s played in 32 games for the team and started 10 of those.  His stat line isn’t very impressive though, amassing only 1 interception, 1 fumble recovery and 34 tackles in that time.  Raymond will have to step up in a big way in order to win a spot with the team.

My Prediction

Here are the players I see making the 53 man roster:

  • Harrison Smith
  • Mistral Raymond
  • Andrew Sendejo
  • Antone Exum
  • Kurt Coleman

Analysis of My Prediction

The only two players that I don’t have currently see making the Minnesota Vikings 53 man roster are Brandan Bishop and Robert Blanton.  I’m really high on the rookie Exum coming over and fighting for the starting job immediately.  Kurt Coleman is another guy that could be a surprise from the Eagles.  However, the real competition, in my opinion, will come from Andrew Sendejo.  I really like the idea of those two guys as the starting safeties going into this year.  After there, there are a lot of serviceable players who can be effective special teamers, backups, or rotational players.

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Tags: Andrew Sendejo Antone Exum Harrison Smith Kurt Coleman Minnesota Vikings Mistral Raymond

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