National Media No Longer Very High on Harrison Smith

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Minnesota Vikings strong safety Harrison Smith accepted a paycut to remain with the club this season as the 34-year-old enters his 12th NFL season.

Smith is expected to fly around inside Brian Flores’ new-look purple defense when the regular season begins Sunday.

National Media No Longer Very High on Harrison Smith

But a new and odd aspect of Smith’s reputation has emerged — non-Vikings fans don’t think he’s too much of a force to be reckoned with anymore.

No Longer Very High
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Smith has been a member of the Vikings since 2012 and is the longest-tenured player — by far — on the roster. Most fans believed Smith would “be safe” when Minnesota began roster change last March because his skillset should fit wonderfully within Flores’ new defense. But the issue was price, which Smith and Minnesota’s front office successfully mitigated six months ago.

Fast forward to the start of the regular season, and Smith’s ranking among safeties is near an all-time low. Pro Football Network ranked the league’s safeties this week, and Smith curiously checked in at No. 25.

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PFN’s Dalton Miller explained the 25th-best-in-the-business ranking, “Harrison Smith was long one of the most versatile safeties in the league, but that versatility was dissolved in 2022 in favor of specificity. The Vikings’ secondary was a disaster, but little of that fault lies on Harrison’s shoulders.”

Safeties like Camren Kurl (Washington Commanders) and Malik Hooker (Dallas Cowboys) outranked Smith, which many would consider an oddity.

Brian Flores Changed the Vikings Offseason
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“There should be far more alignment versatility in Brian Flores’ defense, which should facilitate success with Smith, who is an excellent pass rusher for the position. He’s in the twilight of his career but still plays at a level deserving of recognition,” Miller concluded.

Smith was the NFL’s 37th-best safety in 2022, according to Pro Football Focus, but the Vikings defense often looked uncoordinated without him. And with Lewis Cine injured for the season early last October, Minnesota would’ve been down to peanuts without Smith on the depth chart. Now, with the aforementioned Flores in charge, Smith will have free reign in the Vikings secondary, likely to be utilized as a pass rusher more frequently to align with Flores’ aggressive modus operandi.

A Lovable Success Story
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Smith leads all NFL safeties in tackles and interceptions since turning pro in 2012 and is second in sacks via the same metric.

Perhaps a rejuvenation with Flores in charge this season will remind national folks that 24 safeties leaguewide aren’t better football players than Smith, who has a fringe Hall of Fame resume.

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