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Lunchbreak: Harrison Smith Linking Up with Eric Kendricks, Case Keenum & Adam Thielen for Golf Tourney

Is this 2024 … or 2017?

It might feel like the latter when four former Vikings, who teamed together during the electric 2017 season, reunite this weekend for the second annual NFLPA Classic.

Team Smith will be led by Vikings safety Harrison Smith and also includes Cowboys linebacker Eric Kendricks, Texans quarterback Case Keenum and Panthers receiver Adam Thielen.

Keenum and Smith teamed together for last year's Classic, along with Dawson Knox and Gabe Davis.

Now, it will be key members of the 2017 NFC North Champions, completing the foursome.

According to the NFL Players Association, the tailor-made golf tournament "offers a unique opportunity for 64 NFL players and their families to participate in a memorable, world-class experience while strengthening bonds beyond the gridiron."

The event will take place March 21-23 in Riviera Maya, Mexico, and feature 16 team captains.

In addition to Smith, other captains include Davis, Jacoby Brissett, Austin Ekeler, Aidan Hutchinson, Wil Lutz, Von Miller, Desmond Ridder and former Vikings linebacker Jordan Hicks.

Former Vikings quarterback Joshua Dobbs, who recently signed with the 49ers in free agency, is a part of Brissett's foursome.

The NFLPA Classic is the realization of a vision by JC Tretter, former NFLPA President and nine-year NFL veteran. Last year, 48 players convened in the Bahamas for the inaugural event, where Von Miller's group – that included Vikings tight end T.J. Hockenson – clinched the trophy.

Vikings defense 'taking shape' for 2024

Minnesota has been active throughout the first week-plus of free agency.

Vikings General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and his staff have added a number of new faces to the roster, from former division rival Aaron Jones to cornerback Shaq Griffin.

Analytics site Pro Football Focus recently took a look at "one positive takeaway" for each NFL team thus far into free agency, and PFF's Dalton Wasserman pointed to the Vikings defense that is "starting to take shape." He wrote:

The Vikings lost their best pass rusher, Danielle Hunter, to the Houston Texans, but they set out to make their defense more well-rounded. They have certainly done so by signing Jonathan Greenard, Blake Cashman and Andrew Van Ginkel, among others.

Greenard slides directly into Hunter's defensive end spot after leading the Texans in sacks last season. Cashman also arrives from Houston after posting the eighth-best overall grade among linebackers in 2023. Van Ginkel reunites with [Defensive Coordinator] Brian Flores as an outstanding standup edge rusher who can drop into coverage. The Vikings have added quality and quantity to an ascending defense, allowing them to home in on quarterbacks in the draft.

It's also worth looking at what Wasserman said about the other three NFC North teams.

In looking at the Bears, he said the team has "constructed a roster that is ready for a rookie quarterback." The Bears hold the No. 1 overall selection in the upcoming 2024 NFL Draft.

The most notable transaction was the trade acquisition of wide receiverKeenan Allenin exchange for a 2024 fourth-round pick. That's a tremendous value for a player who ranked 11th at his position in receiving grade in 2023. His presence shouldn't dissuade the Bears from taking another receiver early in the draft, either, as Allen has played primarily in the slot over the past six seasons.

The Bears also beefed up their offense by adding running back D'Andre Swift, tight end Gerald Everett and some offensive line depth.

Wasserman said the Lions "loaded up on defense," and the Packers "swung for the fences" to open up the new league year.

Josh Jacobs arrives from Las Vegas after a tumultuous season that involved a contract dispute and a late start. Jacobs, as well as the Raiders, never found his footing. However, he was the best running back in the league in 2022 with multiple prior years of success behind that. His resurgence could put Green Bay's offense in elite territory.

The Packers entered the new league year with a desperate need for an impact safety. They found the perfect player in Xavier McKinney. He should fit seamlessly into new defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley's system after leading all safeties in coverage grade this past season.

Click here to see all Wasserman's takeaways.