Midseason grades for the 2019 Minnesota Vikings defense

(Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
(Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Anthony Harris
(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Anthony Harris /

Grading the Defensive Backs

When it comes to the Vikings’ secondary in the first half of the season, there’s been some good and some bad. When you start with the positives, the conversation begins with Minnesota’s two safeties in Anthony Harris and Harrison Smith.

Smith has been business as usual for the Vikings, delivering hard hits that may not be translating to his stats as he has just one interception and one tackle for loss on the season. However, Harris is having a true breakout season after flashing in relief of Andrew Sendejo last year, ranking 10th in pass rusher productivity at 14.3 and ranking 10th with 50.8 coverage snaps per reception to go with three interceptions.

The issue for Minnesota has been with their cornerbacks. Xavier Rhodes has been a disaster just two years removed from his 2017 All-Pro campaign, allowing 34 receptions on just 40 targets and an opposing passer rating of 124.7 this season, the 10th-highest in the NFL.

Trae Waynes has also struggled this year, allowing three touchdowns which have led to the Vikings’ two starting corner allowing six of the 14 opposing passing touchdowns on the season, tied for seventh in the NFL.

Mackensie Alexander has been brilliant in the slot, but he also missed three games thanks to a dislocated elbow. As Mike Hughes continues to round into form after last year’s knee injury and Holton Hill returns from suspension, Minnesota’s defensive backfield could potentially have a much different look by the time the regular season ends.

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Harris Grade: A

Smith Grade: B

Waynes Grade: C

Rhodes Grade: C-