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Lunchbreak: Hall of Fame Safeties Weigh in on Harrison Smith's Canton Chances 

Will Harrison Smith one day end up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame?

A pair of former safeties currently part of Canton's greats gave Smith their vote of confidence.

Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press recently spoke with former Packers safety LeRoy Butler, who will be inducted this weekend. Tomasson wrote:

Butler said he long has admired Smith. With a few more good seasons he believes Smith, entering his 11thyear, would have solid Hall of Fame credentials.

Butler, who played for the Packers from 1990-2001, told Tomasson he loves the way Smith "comes up to the line of scrimmage, and he can play away from it."

"He's a smart guy," Butler said. "He's a smart guy. I'm a big fan of his. A huge fan."

Steve Atwater, who spent most of his career with the Broncos and was inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2020, believes Smith plays with a style similar to his.

"He's fearless," Atwater told Tomasson. "I think safeties who are physical safeties, that's a very good trait. And he's very smart. He's not a highly penalized guy; he plays within the rules. Most definitely, I'm a fan of his."

Smith, 33, was flattered when he heard what Butler and Atwater said. He said he followed both players and remembers watching them play in Super Bowl XXXII in January 1998. In that game, Atwater's Broncos defeated Butler's Packers 31-24.

"That's a huge compliment," Smith said. "I grew up watching (Atwater) and LeRoy, so those were some of the first guys I watched. I loved watching them play. … Those were guys who paved the way, changed the game, and they could do it all."

To read Tomasson's story in its entirety, click here.

Vikings have 8th-easiest QB opponent schedule in 2022

Which NFL teams are facing the most top-tier quarterbacks through the 2022 regular season?

The Athletic's Mike Sando recently delved into that question, providing the following explanation on his process:

The Kansas City Chiefs play the toughest schedule of opposing quarterbacks this season. The Washington Commanders face the easiest.

I've stacked the league 1-32 using 2022 Quarterback Tiers results while setting aside games against the Cleveland Browns until Deshaun Watson's status is resolved.

The results for all 32 teams are below, beginning with the Chiefs, whose schedule projects as the toughest whether Watson or Jacoby Brissett is the starter, and when games against Cleveland are removed.

According to Sando's formula, the Vikings have the eighth-easiest QB opponent schedule in the league.

The Vikings went into last season with what projected as the third-toughest schedule of opposing quarterbacks, using 2021 Tiers results. They split with [Aaron] Rodgers, beat [Russell] Wilson and beat [Justin] Herbert. The schedule projects as softer this season and could get softer if [Matt] Ryan continues his recent decline, and if [Kyler] Murray begins fading around midseason (the Vikings play Arizona in the Cardinals eighth game of the season).

The Vikings play two Tier 1 quarterbacks (Rodgers and Josh Allen) and three Tier 2 (Murray, Ryan and Dak Prescott). They are slated to play the most games against Tier 3 QBs, having five of them on their schedule: Mac Jones (Patriots), Jalen Hurts (Eagles), Carson Wentz (Commanders), Jared Goff (Lions) and Jameis Winston (Saints).

And finally, Minnesota is slated to face four Tier 4 passers: Justin Fields (Bears), Tua Tagovailoa (Dolphins), Zach Wilson (Jets) and Daniel Jones (Giants).