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Pro Football Focus names Harrison Smith Defensive Player of the Year

Because, really, what other choices were there?

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Chicago Bears v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

The best safety in the National Football League got a pretty nifty piece of recognition this weekend from the folks over at Pro Football Focus.

The analytics site declared Minnesota Vikings’ safety Harrison Smith to be their Defensive Player of the Year on Tuesday.

It doesn’t appear that it was a hard choice for them to make. According to their article where they declare Smith the award winner, they point out that he was their top-rated safety in both run support and in coverage.

Smith’s all-around game makes life easier on the entire Vikings defense. Every coverage can be played, defenses can be disguised and other players can play to their strengths due to Smith’s ability to play multiple roles to perfection. He’s no stranger to success, as 2017 represented the third year in which he graded above the elite 90.0 mark, and he has two others at 85.0-plus in his six-year career. But this was Smith’s best year on record, and it translated to the Vikings defense as a whole.

When evaluating safeties, there are often two ways to look at them: Do they make plays (add value) or do they avoid mistakes (minimize value loss). For Smith, he was able to do both, in all phases of the game, from all levels of the field. That is defensive player of the year value, and that’s why Harrison Smith is PFF’s DPOY for 2017.

Smith finally got named to the Pro Bowl earlier this week as an injury replacement. The fact that it took an injury to someone else to get him that honor, along with the suggestion that there are three safeties in the NFC that are better, is just stupid. It’s stupid with a capital DERR. Maybe next year the people that put the initial Pro Bowl rosters together can be a little less stupid and get it right the first time. I wouldn’t place a sizeable wager on that or anything, but we can always hope.

I don’t know how much actual steam Harrison Smith might have on being named the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year, which I believe is going to be named at the NFL Honors show the night before the Super Bowl. But, he should certainly be on the short list, and the honor he received from PFF this week is pretty solid proof of that.