For basically the entirety of the 2010 and 2011 seasons, the safety play for the Minnesota Vikings was fairly atrocious. But, along with the rest of the defense, the position seemed to come around during the 2012 season, keyed largely by the presence of rookie Harrison Smith.
As part of his Combine press conference, Vikings' General Manager Rick Spielman talked about Smith and some of the other aspects of the safety position for our favorite football team.
Assessment on Harrison Smith and why having a difference making safety is important
"We were very fortunate and felt very good about Harrison last year and moved up into the first round to go get Harrison. I really believe that you have to take care of the middle of your offense and defense and Harrison made a huge difference in our defense on the back end, not only because he's a good football player, but because he's very intelligent. It's going to be interesting to see with some of the things that the offensive coaches did this year on the read option and things like that how are the defensive coaches going to adjust to that. But safeties, because they're playing against move tight ends that are almost like big receivers coming out, do they have the ability to play man coverage against those type of athletes. I think the safety position, it's a good safety class this year as well. But it makes a difference on your back end, especially if that guy is going to be the quarterback of your defense from there. ... Our scheme is interchangeable. We go free and strong, and when we're looking for guys, they have to be able to do both."
On safety competition opposite Harrison Smith
"Jamarca (Sanford) is an unrestricted free agent. We'll meet with his agent down here. We feel very good about some of the depth that we have - Mistral Raymond, Robert Blanton, who had to step in and play last year, stepped in and played very well and was a core special teams player for us. He was a slash-corner that we moved to safety. We'll look at the depth in this draft, as well, to continue to add playmakers. I think a lot of that will determine on what happens with us being able to keep our own players."
On how to evalulate safeties
"We really try to hone in on our division and who we're playing - against Green Bay, against Detroit, against Chicago. Those teams have very good quarterbacks and they have some pretty talented skill guys. Because those are the teams I know we're going to have to face twice a year. So as the coaches determine the scheme we're going to run and as we bring in those players, that's also the determining factor on the type of personnel that we're going to have match up, especially within the division. So yes."
I'm not sure how I feel about the Vikings' safety situation opposite Smith, myself. I'd like to see Robert Blanton get a more extended look, but Jamarca Sanford acquitted himself well at the end of last season and Mistral Raymond was doing alright for himself before an injury early on in the season. I'm sure the Vikings are looking to upgrade at the safety position, but I'm not sure whether they're going to be doing it via free agency or grabbing someone in the NFL Draft.
What do you folks think?