Top 10 Minnesota Vikings of 2022: Where does Justin Jefferson rank?

(Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports) Justin Jefferson
(Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports) Justin Jefferson /
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Minnesota Vikings
(Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) Za’Darius Smith /

No. 6: Za’Darius Smith – OLB

This year, the biggest addition to the Vikings comes in at No. 6. Za’Darius Smith is a hard one to place after playing all of 37 snaps last year, but the skill he has shown in previous years gets him this spot.

Big Z is the riskiest one on this list. There is a chance he never returns to the player he was before his back injury, which would leave the Vikings in a tough spot. This, however, is a ranking assuming that is not the case.

Smith and Danielle Hunter were at the top of the league in 2019 in quarterback pressures, and while Smith’s dropped off in 2020, he still owned a top-11 PFF grade among edge rushers.

He still had a top-10 pass-rush grade in 2020 as well, meaning that even though the pressures weren’t there (he still had 59), he was still playing well. Having a pass-rusher like that across from Hunter will do wonders for Minnesota.

Hunter is used to having someone like Everson Griffen on the other side, so with the addition of Smith, Hunter still will not have to do it all solo.

A healthy Smith will be one of the most important pieces in Minnesota this year, and he has the potential to move even higher up in 2023.