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Harrison Smith, Xavier Rhodes named AP First-Team All-Pros

Minnesota Vikings defensive backs Harrison Smith and Xavier Rhodes were named to the 2017 Associated Press First-Team All-Pro squad.

The end-of-season awards keep coming for the Minnesota Vikings.

The Associated Press announced its annual All-Pro roster Friday morning and it included two of the leaders of Mike Zimmer’s vaunted Vikings defense on the first team and two more Vikings on the second team.

Harrison Smith was named an All-Pro for the first time in his career following a phenomenal fifth season as a pro. He started al 16 regular season contests and recorded 61 tackles, 1.5 sacks, five interceptions and 12 pass deflections.

Smith’s 2017 season was praised heavily by the team at Pro Football Focus. His season grade of 98.8 was the highest grade of any player in the NFL this season and it’s the highest grade awarded to any safety since PFF began its grading system in 2006.

According to BJ Reidell’s coverage chart, Smith allowed 26 completions on 51 targets for 251 yards, one touchdown and five interceptions in coverage this season. Those numbers net a passer rating allowed of 32.27, which is less than the passer rating for throwing an incomplete pass on every single snap (39.6). It’s also worth noting that Smith’s lone touchdown “allowed” was a shovel pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster in Minnesota’s Week 2 loss to Pittsburgh.

https://twitter.com/RobertReidell/status/948772660959481857

Smith’s value is truly impossible to quantify due to his unbelievable versatility. Per an article on our sister site by author Nicholas Smith, the All-Pro safety found himself lined up at six different positions throughout the season.

image via an article on purplePTSD.com

Unfortunately, Smith was not voted into the Pro Bowl for some absurd reason. He is regarded by many as the best player in the NFL this season. But, hey, at least the Associated Press got it right.

Xavier Rhodes also earned All-Pro recognition after an incredible fourth season in which he elevated himself into elite shutdown cornerback status with two interceptions and 10 passes deflected. Vikings fans had seen flashes of this level of play over the past couple of seasons, particularly when he locked down Odell Beckham Jr. on Monday Night Football last season.

Rhodes went head-to-head with a heavy slate of elite receivers in 2017, including Antonio Brown, Mike Evans, Michael Thomas and Julio Jones — and he locked them down, too.

  • Week 1 vs. Michael Thomas: 2 receptions on 3 targets, 23 yards
  • Week 2 vs. Antonio Brown: 3 receptions on 8 targets, 28 yards
  • Week 3 vs. Mike Evans: 4 receptions on 9 targets, 36 yards
  • Week 13 vs. Julio Jones: 1 reception on 3 targets, 13 yards

Rhodes’ ability to shut down one side of the field and force the opposition to use only half of the field gave Zimmer’s defense a huge boost all season long. Overall, Rhodes allowed 44 completions on 82 targets for 511 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions for a passer rating of 69.18 — all while facing No. 1 wide receivers week in and week out.

Rhodes was also listed as an extra defensive back on the AP’s Second All-Pro roster. So, yes, Rhodes earned both first and second team All-Pro honors.

Wide receiver Adam Thielen and defensive end Everson Griffen also earned recognition as second team All-Pros. Thielen’s career season included 91 receptions for 1,276 yards, good enough for fourth in the NFL. Meanwhile, Griffen racked up 13 sacks to lead the Vikings.

Smith and Rhodes have acted as cornerstones not just for the Vikings secondary, but for the entire defense and the entire team. Minnesota’s 13-3 record is largely reflected on the performance of its stars on the defensive end. No team can rank No. 1 in yards allowed, No 1 in points allowed and No. 1 in NFL history in third-down defense without elite play sprinkled all over its defense.

Good on the Associated Press for recognizing greatness.

Stats courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com and BJ Reidell’s coverage chart.

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Drew Mahowald

Drew Mahowald is the No. 1 Jim Kleinsasser fan and No. 1 Little Caesars pizza enthusiast on planet Earth. That about sums it up.

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3 Comments

  1. Nicholas Smith’s article about Smith over at purplePTSD.com was excellent. Superb, detailed analysis, perfectly chosen examples, and written without excess verbiage but with a fan’s passion and joy. Top marks!

  2. I will say I was a bit surprised that Linval Joseph didn’t even make the AP’s second team. You watch loads more football than me, Drew, and probably follow the rest of the league more closely, too, so do you think the AP got the right four DT’s on their All-Pro team?

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