[NOTE FROM ADAM:  I am thrilled that Branden Lemke has once again agreed to lend us his talents here at VT, this time he will be providing us with ten "bold predictions" for you all to mull over as the season fast approaches.  This is his first installment.  I know I've been way too absent this week, but I promise I'll be back to normal in just a few short days.  Thanks for hanging in there.]

Hey everybody! If you’re like me, right now you’re anxiously awaiting the arrival of the 2013 NFL season. For the first time since 2009, Vikings fans have a lot of reason for hope this time of year (Last year at this time nobody thought we’d finish 10-6, and if you did you’re a football genius). Leading up to the start of the season, I’m going to give you 10 bold predictions of what you will hopefully see over the course of the 2013 season. Some of you may remember me doing this a couple years ago when I worked with Adam at Vikings Gab. I looked up my bold predictions from 2011 and it turns out I was right about half of them! I’m shooting for a better ratio this time around.

There’s no question the Vikings struck gold in 2012 by trading up in the first round to select safety Harrison Smith out of Notre Dame. Many were skeptical at first because the 2012 safety class was viewed as a fairly weak class, and some fans and experts thought it might have just been a desperation shot by the Vikings, trying to fill a glaring need in the secondary. It didn’t take Smith long to show everyone that despite a weak safety class, he was for real.

We saw his talent on display throughout the entire 2012 season. He delivered one hard hitting tackle after another, and finished with 3 interceptions on the year, 2 of them for touchdowns. I was honestly surprised Smith wasn’t more highly considered for Defensive Rookie Of The Year, and I felt he could have been a pro bowler this year. In 2013, I think Smith is poised for a breakout year. He’s already become one of the main leaders in our secondary, and his play will be huge for the Vikings. I think Smith will finish in the area of 80 tackles, 4-5 interceptions, and a couple forced fumbles. Hopefully we can see more defensive touchdowns from him as well.  I think the Pro Bowl is a place he’ll belong after the season is said and done, hopefully voters feel the same way when the Pro Bowl ballots are out.