3 Vikings players who could take a step backward in 2021

(Photo by Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports) Adam Thielen
(Photo by Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports) Adam Thielen /
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Minnesota Vikings
(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) Harrison Smith /

Harrison Smith – S

Harrison Smith has been playing at a high level for basically his entire career in the NFL. Without Smith on the field last season, the Vikings’ defense would have easily been the worst unit in the league.

Thanks to how poorly Minnesota’s defense was in 2020, Smith’s impressive numbers weren’t noticed by as many as they probably should have been. The Vikings’ veteran safety finished last season with 89 tackles (most since 2016), 10 pass breakups (second-most since 2017), five interceptions (tying a career-high), and 0.5 sacks.

Despite his impressive production, Smith was basically the only playmaker Minnesota had on defense for most of the 2020 campaign. For 2021, that’s not going to be the case.

Next season, the Vikings’ defense will feature much more talent thanks to additions in free agency and to players returning from injury. Smith will still likely play a significant role in the success of Minnesota’s defense in 2021, but he won’t have to do as much as he was forced to do last season.

So in terms of taking a step back when it comes to Smith, it will more be about his final stats experiencing a dip due to more talent being around him, and not necessarily his actual play on the field.