There are more mid-season awards to be handed out, as Chris Wesseling and Matt Harmon from NFL.com have put together their Midseason All-Pro teams. They selected players on both offense and defense, and while no members of the Minnesota Vikings made the cut on the offensive side of the ball, the defense has plenty of purple on it.
Defensive end Everson Griffen and safety Harrison Smith were unanimous selections to the squad. . .well, as much as two writers choosing a player can be “unanimous,” I suppose. Cornerback Xavier Rhodes also made the team, although he was only selected by one of the two writers.
We’ll start with Griffen, who Wesseling paired with Jacksonville Jaguars’ defensive end Calais Campbell and Harmon paired with Dallas Cowboys’ defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence.
Wesseling: It doesn't matter who your left tackle is -- he had better get some help from a chip blocker, or it's a going to a long afternoon against Griffen's relentless speed rush, bull rush and spin move. Griffen is the beating heart of the NFL's most disruptive defensive line, also featuring run-stuffer Linval Joseph and emerging star Danielle Hunter.
Harmon: Feel free to get upset at this statement, but Griffen has been the most dominant player in the NFL this season. His 45 pressures currently lead the NFL by a wide-margin, and he should be squarely in the Defensive Player of the Year discussion.
SB Nation recently did their own NFL Mid-Season Awards. In the Defensive Player of the Year voting, Griffen got exactly one vote. . .mine. That may or may not make me a homer, but that really doesn’t concern me. Those of us that watch the Vikings every week know full well that Griffen is a monster, and has been almost unblockable over the first half of the season. I expect him to have a second half of the season every bit as big as the first half.
Smith was also selected by both Wesseling and Harmon. Harmon paired the NFL’s best safety up with Buffalo Bills’ safety Micah Hyde, while Wesseling put him with Seattle Seahawks’ safety Earl Thomas.
Wesseling: Smith recently authored a phenomenal seven-day stretch, sealing the Vikings' Week 5 victory over the Bears with an instinctual interception of Mitchell Trubisky before notching 1.5 sacks and a spectacular diving pick in the Week 6 win over the Packers. There's no weakness in his game.
Harmon: Smith is one of the many studs littering the Vikings' defense. Opposing teams have attempted just one pass down the deep middle of the field against Minnesota, and the team ranks inside the top five in passer rating allowed in the intermediate middle.
When it comes to Rhodes, only Harmon decided to include him on his squad, and then only as a spare defensive back rather than as a cornerback. Each writer picked two corners, two safeties, and an extra DB.
Harmon: The top-notch cornerback started off 2017 with a bang in two shadow coverage games. Rhodes covered Antonio Brown on 71.4 percent of the Steeler receiver's pass plays in Week 2, allowing just three catches for 28 yards on eight targets. Rhodes followed that up by giving up just five catches for 53 yards on nine targets to the Buccaneers' Mike Evans in Week 3. He's earned his "Rhodes Closed" nickname with no touchdowns allowed on the year.
It’s always nice to see members of the purple get some recognition. Hopefully all three of these players. . .and maybe a few more. . .will be on the All-Pro teams at the end of the season as well.