The folks from Pro Football Focus have put together their annual list of the 101 Top Players in the NFL for the 2017 season, and the Minnesota Vikings are pretty prominently featured, including having one player skyrocket into the Top 5 on the list.
Harrison Smith, who should have been in the conversation for NFL Defensive Player of the Year but wasn’t because he plays for Minnesota, wound up at #3 overall on PFF’s list. He won their Dwight Stephenson Award, which they give to the best player in the regular season regardless of position.
The winner of PFF’s Dwight Stephenson Award for the best player in the regular season regardless of position, Harrison Smith drops a couple of spots in the list due to the playoffs, as where others were spectacular, Smith struggled (like the rest of the Vikings defense) against the Eagles to end his season. That shouldn’t take away from how spectacular he was in the previous 17 games though, as he was the game’s best safety and the joker that allowed the Vikings defense to be so multiple schematically and so good overall. Smith played all over that defense, making plays as a strong safety, deep-lying free safety and a slot corner, giving the Vikings a legitimate matchup weapon on defense.
PFF Elite Stat: In the regular season, Smith was top-15 among safeties in run-stop percentage, tackling efficiency, yards per cover snap allowed and pass-rushing productivity.
We’ll point out one last time that Harrison Smith didn’t even make the initial Pro Bowl squad for this season, but that’s because the Pro Bowl rosters are put together by people that have their heads jammed so far up their asses that it’s difficult for them to breathe properly.
(Cue the “HE SURE DIDN’T LOOK LIKE IT IN THE PLAYOFFS HURR DURR DURR” comments. Whatever.)
Other Vikings that made the list were defensive end Everson Griffen (#51 out of 101), defensive tackle Linval Joseph (#54), and wide receivers Stefon Diggs (#77) and Adam Thielen (#78). Notably absent from the list is cornerback Xavier Rhodes, who wasn’t one of the 11 cornerbacks to make the list this season. The linebacker duo of Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr is nowhere to be seen on the list, either.
Hopefully, when the 2018 version of this list comes around, there will be even more members of the Vikings listed on it.