Question Of The Week

VT Question of the Week: Which Defensive Player Will Stand Out in 2015?

Which Defensive Player will Have the Most Standout Season for the Vikings in 2015?

Andy: Sharrif Floyd 
He won’t standout the most on the stat sheet, but I think he’s in line for a very productive junior season for the Minnesota Fightin’ Vikings. We’ve seen flashes of brilliance his first two campaigns, but I think 2015 is where he’ll consistently become that disruptive force of nature that Mike Zimmer can hang his hat on in the middle.

Brent: Harrison Smith
Smith is coming off an excellent 2014 in which he was the 2nd-ranked safety by PFF standards. His versatility is important to Zimmer’s defense, and I think they’ll get even more creative with how they use Smith in 2015. Not only does Smith move around a lot, he’s also the last line of defense over the top of the secondary. Trusting Smith to be right deep down field allows the Vikings to be aggressive with their front seven. There are plenty of arguments for Anthony Barr and Everson Griffen—hell, throw Xavier Rhodes’ name into the ring as well. At the end of the day, I think Smith’s involvement in stopping both the run and pass gives him the most opportunity to make plays and have an impact.

Lindsey: Anthony Barr
This question is way too hard to answer (yes … I’m the one that chose the question…). A lot of defensive guys had a breakout season last year, including Everson Griffen and Xavier Rhodes. However, I’m really expecting to see Barr pick up exactly where he left off last year before his injury. Barr immediately came in as a rookie with a calm, confident presence (similar to Teddy Bridgewater’s demeanor, in my opinion), and he wasn’t rattled at all by the limelight or hype of his freshman year. He’s one of those guys who is football minded to the core. Barr’s impact on the team’s defense was unmistakable, and I think he’ll only get better.

Carl: Everson Griffen
The Vikings opened their wallet last year and gave Everson Griffen a five-year, $42.5-million wad of cash after just one career start. Griffen got off to a slow start in 2014, but he turned it on by recording a sack in eight different games and collecting 11 on the season. His rare combination of size and speed can wreak havoc in a number of different ways along the defensive front. Griffen is a cornerstone that Mike Zimmer can continue to build a defense around over the next four years. Griffen’s best football is still ahead of him, and I think he will earn his money in 2015 en route to being named Vikings defensive MVP.

Adam: Anthony Barr
There is a lot to love about where this defense is heading, and it is hard to pick just one “standout” performance from 2014, let alone predict one for 2015. Everson Griffen, Harrison Smith and Xavier Rhodes are all playing top-tier football at this point in their careers. I can’t help but zero in on last year’s top draft choice, Anthony Barr, in answering this question, however. Prior to injury, this guy was on his way to being the top defensive rookie in the NFL and I see the potential for him to become one of the best in the league overall. A sophomore slump would sure be a bummer to see play out, but I’m thinking Barr is going to turn some heads in 2015 and take another step in establishing himself as a feared centerpiece in Mike Zimmer’s defense.

Arif: Harrison Smith
Fully healthy (and in a contract year), Smith can prove over the course of a full season that he’s a top-three safety in the NFL. His skill set is expanding, and he could have a year with over eight combined sacks and interceptions, which would just be a curious and awesome statistic. His versatility and power should be huge assets.

Austin: Harrison Smith
With welcome offseason additions on the defensive side of the ball, Mike Zimmer’s unit is set to make tremendous strides in 2015. One player (not named Everson Griffen) is well on his way to becoming the league’s best at the position — Harrison Smith. After a 2014 season that saw him record 71 tackles, 3 sacks, and 5 interceptions, Smith is poised for a superstar season. Expect Zimmer to line Smith up all over the field next year, taking advantage of his abilities as a run defender and free safety in coverage. 2015 will be the year of Harrison Smith, and not just in Minnesota.

Brett: Anthony Barr
Barr was hand picked in last year’s draft specifically for Mike Zimmer’s defense. There were a lot of question marks surrounding the inexperienced, yet super-athletic, linebacker from UCLA and it was expected Barr would need a year or two to get acclimated to playing at an NFL level. However, Zimmer, the defensive mastermind he is, was able to utilize Barr’s raw talent and make him a critical piece of the Vikings defense almost immediately. Having only played 12 games in the 2014 season, Anthony Barr was ranked the eighth best 4-3 outside linebacker by Pro Football Focus. I truly believe that another year under the tutelage of Zimmer will really benefit Barr, who struggled at times in coverage, and establish him as an elite outside linebacker.


Who is YOUR pick? Take our poll!


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Lindsey Young

Lindsey Young (Featured Columnist) is a graduate of University of Northwestern – St. Paul and is an avid Minnesota sports fan[atic]. It’s been argued females don’t know much about sports, but she begs to differ. Her work has been featured on Bleacher Report,, and Fox Sports North. In addition to her work with VT, Lindsey is a contributing writer for Canis Hoopus, runs a bi-monthly fan feature for and is a freelance writer for You can read her blog at Making the Call and follow her on Twitter.

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    1. Xavier? I think his name was mentioned a few times. He certainly could have a break out year, no doubt. From my perspective though, Smith has the biggest impact in both run and pass defense.

    2. I definitely think Xavier will have a strong year, but we just all went with our No. 1 pick for this one. No doubt, though, several of us mentioned Rhodes as being in the running 🙂

      1. The problem with Corners is in their best year you’ll hear the least about them.

    1. Randy Gregory might fall to us: ‘just a little weed’ ya know. Given the way THC can inhibit the multiplication of glial cells, esp. astrocytes, and thus prevent toxic symptoms from concussions and brain tumors, I suspect the NFL will eventually moderate its policy, first w.r.t. medicinal prescriptions, naturally.

  1. Xavier is a stud, but I think he might be a year away from being at the top of his game. I still have a few question marks on him. Can he stay healthy? Can he show me some ball skills? He does a great job breaking up the pass and disrupting plays, but I would like to see more than just 1 INT.

    Harrison was certainly our most valuable DB last season, 92 total tackles, 5 picks and 3 sacks is going to be hard to top.

    If the Vikings can land 1 or 2 more great player in the draft, this defensive unit could easily become a top five defense for years to come. I am very excited about the direction Zimmer has the D going!

      1. #2 CB by what standard? He was ranked 29th in overall PFF grades, 14th in just coverage.

  2. I picked Audie Cole. I think xman and all the others listed will be pro bowl caliber players and I am not saying he will be better. But I think they will all be better because not only will Audie win the Mike spot. He will play like he played the final game last season. I remember his big pre season plays his rookie season and knew he would develop into a stud. I could easily see him leading the team in tackles. I also stand behind drafting Beasley would make our defense outright scary but if Scherrff is there at 11 they cant pass. But I love Beasley’s potential. The CB out of Michigan State would be the third choice if those two or gone. Anyway that’s another topic. LOL

    1. I have to say I like that pick — gutsy, but I like it. Audie showed some great stuff in the last couple games last season, and I think he’s going to play a much bigger role in 2015!

  3. I had to go with Harrison. Seems to be everywhere on the field, flying around with reckless abandon, hitting people like he hates them.
    Plus, the guy where’s Paul Krause’s old number.
    Last year was the first year in a LONG time that I was not nervous towards the end of close games.
    I actually had faith that our defense would hold their own and they did.
    Another year or 2 with Coach Zimmer and this defense will be in the top 5, guaranteed.

  4. I like Anthony Barr this year to make a big impact. The defense didn’t quite seem to have the teeth it did when Barr was healthy. He’s only going to get more confident in the scheme and the position in year two. All of your picks are definitely valid arguments but I think Barr rises to Pro-Bowl status this year.

  5. This was really hard; wow that’s a good thing! I honestly thought about picking each of the options. Plus you could probably add Rhodes.