Maybe the most underrated defensive player in the NFL over the last decade has been Harrison Smith. The starting safety of the Minnesota Vikings has nearly created a Hall of Fame career for himself through both winning seasons and losing seasons. His NFC North rival in Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers had high praise for the former Notre Dame alum calling him “the most difficult player to determine what he’s doing on any play.”
Aside from an injury-riddled season in 2013, Smith has started 144 out of the 145 games he has played in during his great career. The two-time All-Pro selection is coming off a career year in total tackles (114), solo tackles (83) and he tied his career high in sacks with 3.0. He tied his second-most output of QB hits in a season with five. At the age of 32, he also played 100% of snaps for the first time in his career. That is especially impressive consider it was the first NFL season with 17 regular-season games in history.
The six-time Pro-Bowler is one of the most instinctual defensive backs in the game. He is one of the best at reading the opposing quarterbacks eyes and disguising his next move. In regard to the comments Rodgers made about Smith, Minnesota doesn’t beat Rodgers and the Packers at all if he is not out there. It takes a great quarterback like Rodgers to understand the greatness that is put forth by Smith. The Knoxville native has recorded at least 80 tackles in seven of his 10 career seasons. In the three seasons that he didn’t net at least 80 tackles, he caught multiple interceptions. That is extremely consistent.
Harrison Smith has been through a lot in his career. He will be playing for his third head coach in his career in first-year head coach Kevin O’Connell. Smith is still a cornerstone piece of the Vikings franchise. He, along with MLB Eric Kendricks, edge-rushers Za’Darius Smith and Danielle Hunter, and CB Patrick Peterson will be the veteran pieces on defense tasked with leading this talent unit forward in 2022.