Josh Metellus Defends Teammate’s Snub

Sep 19, 2021; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Minnesota Vikings safety Josh Metellus (44) prior to the game against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Billy Hardiman-USA TODAY Sports.

From an assortment of NFL execs, coaches, and scouts, ESPN ranked the Top 10 current safeties in the business last week, and Harrison Smith was excluded.

The ESPN pecking order plainly didn’t consider long-term performance, and that irritated one teammate of Smith’s — Josh Metellus.

Josh Metellus Defends Teammate’s Snub

For context, these were the NFL’s Top 10 safeties as determined by ESPN’s polling:

  1. Minkah Fitzpatrick (PIT)
  2. Derwin James (LAC)
  3. Justin Simmons (DEN)
  4. Budda Baker (ARI)
  5. Jevon Holland (MIA)
  6. Jessie Bates (ATL)
  7. Kevin Byard (TEN)
  8. Chauncey Gardner-Johnson (PHI)
  9. Talanoa Hufanga (SF)
  10. Antoine Winfield (TB)
Josh Metellus Defends
Dec 4, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings safety Harrison Smith (22) returns an interception off New York Jets quarterback Mike White (not pictured) as cornerback Patrick Peterson. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Then, 12 more safeties were listed as vote-getters, and nary a Smith mention was present. Smith was completely and utterly snubbed from the voting process. Not only was Smith ixnayed from Top 10 safety consideration, he didn’t even fetch Top 22 kudos.

And Metellus simply wasn’t having it. He tweeted last Wednesday, “HOF Harrison Smith too good for the list, huh?”

Tabbed as Offseason
Nov 14, 2021; Inglewood, California, USA; Minnesota Vikings safety Josh Metellus (44) warms up before the game against the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports.

Metellus joined the Vikings in the 6th Round of the 2020 NFL Draft and has been a teammate alongside Smith for three seasons. The man has an intimate view of Smith’s skillset. That evidently inspired the tweet to fire back on the 34-year-old Smith’s behalf.

In defense of the ESPN rankings, though, Smith ranked 37th last year among NFL safeties, according to Pro Football Focus. Per PFF‘s grading system, Smith has indeed ‘lost a step.’ If he had not, his grade would be higher,

Dec 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings safety Harrison Smith (22) warms up before the game against the New York Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Nevertheless, Smith hopes to rejuvenate inside a new Vikings defense this fall, at least regarding PFF scoring. Minnesota parted ways with 2022 defensive coordinator Ed Donatell four days after the Wildcard playoff loss at home to the New York Giants and hired Brian Flores in February. Based on Flores’ blitz-heavy, aggressive mentality, Smith is the perfect fit (at least on paper).

The longtime Viking also accepted a paycut to return in 2023. Smith’s cap hit was apparently too rich for Minnesota’s blood, and he could’ve been released while exploring a different team for his career’s second (and perhaps final) chapter. In the end, the Vikings brass and Smith’s representation met in the middle contractually.

3 Huge Vikings Items
Jan 5, 2020; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Taysom Hill (7) catches a pass for a touchdown against Minnesota Vikings free safety Harrison Smith (22) during the fourth quarter of an NFC Wild Card playoff football game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick Hingle-USA TODAY Sports.

On Metellus, well, he hopes to earn a starter’s job this summer at training camp and in the preseason. He’ll battle veteran Camryn Bynum and second-year defender Lewis Cine for the job opposite Smith in the Vikings secondary.

Smith tied his career-high for interceptions in a single season last year with five.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by