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SI.com: Harrison Smith #2 Free Safety In NFL

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NFL: Pro Bowl-Team Irvin Practice Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

In three weeks, we’ll be getting ready to tell you that the Minnesota Vikings have taken the field in Mankato for the first practice of their 2016 Training Camp. It’s going to be a long three weeks, but we’ve made it this far. . .we just need to press to the finish.

With that, we bring you another source that has finally chosen to recognize the existence of Vikings’ safety Harrison Smith. Chris Burke of SI.com has ranked his top safeties in the National Football League, and has rated Smith #2 overall at the free safety position, behind only Earl Thomas of the Seattle Seahawks.

Here’s what Burke had to say about Smith:

If there is a defender whose role and value match that of Earl Thomas’s, Smith might be closest. The Notre Dame product just signed a five-year contract extension worth upwards of $10 million per year, and he deserves every penny of it. Minnesota coach Mike Zimmer asks the world of Smith, in all facets—Smith notched 66 tackles, two picks and 1.5 sacks in 13 games last season. The Vikings love to blitz, especially through the A-gap and doing so requires the utmost confidence in Smith to plug any resulting holes along the second and third levels. Smith is only getting better, too, which means he could surpass Thomas (if he hasn’t already) as the defender 31 other teams wish they had.

Smith is now the NFL’s highest-paid safety after his extension, so we’re going to get to watch him continue being awesome for the Vikings for the foreseeable future. It’s nice that we can have a legitimate argument over whether or not Smith is the best player on Minnesota’s defense, but that there really is no argument about where he sits on the hierarchy of safeties in the NFL.