While the NFL Network is in the midst of their Top 100 player listings, the folks from Pro Football Focus have also been putting together their own list, this one of their Top 50 players for 2018. While you would expect the purple to have multiple players on the list, it turns out that there’s only one member of the team that broke into the top 50.
Harrison Smith, who should have gotten significantly more consideration for Defensive Player of the Year last season than he actually got, is listed at #15 on PFF’s list for the upcoming season.
In 2017, Smith didn’t just post the highest grade of any safety in the game (97.0), he posted the highest single-season grade we have ever seen from a player at that position since PFF has been grading every snap of every NFL game (2006). Smith graded well in all facets of the game and has a complete skill set that allows the Vikings’ defense to play any scheme they want on a play-by-play basis, knowing that they have the shape-shifting keystone on which to build the rest of the defense.
Smith is the best safety in the National Football League right now. I’m not sure if that’s even a debatable statement at this point (despite the fact that, had it not been for extenuating circumstances, he wouldn’t have even been named to the Pro Bowl in 2017). As PFF mentions, with all the talent that the Vikings have on the defensive side of the ball, it’s Smith’s versatility that really allows Mike Zimmer and George Edwards to do all the things they want to do. Smith is just now hitting his prime and is locked into a contract for the foreseeable future, so the Vikings will have him as a foundation to build around for at least the next few seasons.
Personally, though, I’m still surprised that no other players made the PFF list. PFF’s grading system has always been a bit of a mystery, but that just seems off. Looking at the list, are there any Vikings that you think should have been included that weren’t?