An early look at the Vikings’ top 2019 training camp battles

(Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images) Brandon Zylstra
(Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images) Brandon Zylstra /
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(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) Jayron Kearse
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) Jayron Kearse /


This is going to be an interesting battle as the third and fourth safety job could be up for grabs. I say “could” because there are rumblings the team could move Jayron Kearse to linebacker.

If they truly do that, this competition becomes very intriguing. If he stays at safety or works in a dual role capacity, then there is probably just one spot in this positional group that will be up for the taking this summer.

The Vikings kept five safeties a season ago, but it’s unlikely they do that once again as they seem to have more talent at cornerback. If Minnesota keeps four safeties for 2019, and for the sake of this article we will say that Kearse stays at safety, then it’s going to be a battle between two guys for one position.

It’ll come down to rookie Marcus Epps versus former AAF member, Derron Smith. It’s really hard to give either guy an edge in this battle.

Epps does have the benefit of being a sixth-round draft pick. Teams often times give draft selections a longer leash, as they don’t want their pick to be wasted, especially after their first training camp with the team.

Smith has an edge in this contest because of his experience. He had been in the NFL for three years before sitting out the 2018 season. He played in 38 career games but had just 17 tackles. Smith had 21 tackles and 3 interceptions in his stint in the AAF, and that performance earned him the attention of the Vikings and his contract with the team.

This battle should be wide open as the rookie will take on the veteran with nothing left to lose. How they adapt to the defense in training camp and the preseason will ultimately determine who the fourth safety on the Vikings will be in 2019.