Meet the Most Underrated Viking from a National Viewpoint

Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings two major free-agent moves in 2022, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s first year on the job, involved outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith and defensive tackle Harrison Phillips.

Well, Smith was traded to the Cleveland Browns on Friday night, and Phillips is evidently the Vikings most underrated player.

Meet the Most Underrated Viking from a National Viewpoint

That’s the word from Pro Football Focus, an entity that identified such a player from each NFL team this week.

'Horrible Harry' Was Pretty Wonderful on Tuesday
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Phillips played all 17 games in his first year as a Viking, an impressive feat as many of his defensive teammates battled injury. And he did so as a “strong silent type” that even Tony Soprano would commend. Minnesota’s defense needed all the consistency it could find last year, ranking 27th per defensive DVOA last year, 30th in points allowed, and 31st in yards allowed to opponents.

PFF‘s William Moy tabbed Phillips as the Vikings most underrated citizen and explained, “Phillips struggled as a pass-rusher last season, but he was stout against the run. He was one of 28 interior defenders last season to log at least 300 snaps defending the run and among that group, he ranked seventh with a 73.8 run defense grade. Phillips was 10th in positive grade rate when stopping the run while also posting the seventh-best negative grade rate.”

Meet the Most
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Phillips fetched a 72.0 grade from PFF, the 29th-best mark among 77 qualifying interior defenders. He specialized in stopping the run — a 73.8 run defense grade — with a 59.4 pass-rushing score.

Too, Phillips will be back in 2023 inside a Minnesota defense that has otherwise undergone significant change. Eric Kendricks (Los Angeles Chargers), Za’Darius Smith (Cleveland Browns), Davlin Tomlinson (Cleveland Browns), Patrick Peterson (Pittsburgh Steelers), and Duke Shelley (Las Vegas Raiders) all vamoosed, as the aforementioned Adofo-Mensah pivoted to youth, speed, and affordability on defense.

Pretty Wonderful on Tuesday
Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports.

Nicknamed Horrible Harry, the Vikings defensive tackle will line up this season alongside Danielle Hunter, newcomers Marcus Davenport and Dean Lowry, and perhaps Khyiris Tonga. The Vikings parted ways with Ed Donatell four days after a disappointing loss to the New York Giants in the playoffs and hired Brian Flores from Miami Dolphins fame to lead the 2023 defense.

Phillips tabulated 59 total tackles, 6 QB hits, 3 tackles for loss, and 1.5 sacks in 2022. He also embraced the role of a defensive leader and is considered “one of the good guys” in the Vikings locker room and community, so don’t let the Horrible Harry moniker mislead.

The Vikings open mandatory minicamp in one month.


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,’ and The Doors (the band).

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

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