Minnesota Vikings: Harrison Smith is NFL’s #2 free safety


Harrison Smith is one of the most important parts of the Minnesota Vikings defense, and that was recognized when he was the ranked as the NFL’s #2 safety.

The Minnesota Vikings are a team built around two things: a powerful run-based offense and a smothering defense. One of the key pieces of the puzzle on the defensive side of the ball is Harrison Smith.

Related Story: Is Harrison Smith worthy of his big contract?

This offseason, the Vikings rewarded Smith’s great play with a massive contract extension which made him the NFL’s highest paid safety. While this deal made many NFL fans around the world scratch their heads, those who have watched Smith’s play realized just how important it was to ensure the safety stayed with the team.

Recently, Sports Illustrated’s Chris Burke did a ranking of the NFL’s top free safeties and Harrison Smith earned the number 2 position behind only Earl Thomas. This is a huge honor, but an awkward one since Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer doesn’t designate between free or strong safeties.

Despite that, Burke had some very nice things to say about Smith in the article:

"“Minnesota coach Mike Zimmer asks the world of Smith, in all facets — Smith notched 66 tackles, two picks and 1.5 sacks in 13 games last season. The Vikings love to blitz, especially through the A-gap and doing so requires the utmost confidence in Smith to plug any resulting holes along the second and third levels. Smith is only getting better, too, which means he could surpass Thomas (if he hasn’t already) as the defender 31 other teams wish they had.”"

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Burke went on in the article to talk about all of the different things that Harrison Smith does for the Minnesota Vikings. Whether it is run defense, coverage skills, quarterback blitzing or other assignments, Smith excels and impresses.

"“Safety is a premier position, even more so in a modern NFL that forces players there to handle wildly varying chores from down to down. Need deep help? Slot coverage? An extra blitzer? A little run defense? All of those abilities must be on a safety’s resume these days (or there at least must be otherworldly potential in one area). On top of their own duties, safeties have to be cornerbacks and linebackers as well. “"

Next: Vikings game-by-game 2016 season preview

Harrison Smith and the Minnesota Vikings will take the field during the 2016 NFL season to continue pushing for the biggest prize in the National Football League. Hopefully, Smith’s great play coupled with a young, athletic players and veteran mentors can keep the team’s defense as a major threat for many, many years to come.