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Harrison Smith Named to NFL Network's 'Top 100' for 5th Straight Year


EAGAN, Minn. — In December, Harrison Smith was named to his fifth consecutive Pro Bowl, which made him of 13 players in Vikings history to make five straight appearances in the game.

The do-it-all safety has also now made the NFL Network's Top 100 Players of 2020 list for the fifth straight season, as Smith was unveiled at No. 64 on Monday night.

That was an improvement from the No. 83 spot from 2019. He was 46th in 2018, No. 74 in 2017 and 73rd in 2016.

Smith's versatility left an impression on a pair of his opponents in 2019.

"He's all over the field," said Packers running back Aaron Jones. "Pre-snap, you might see him down on the line of scrimmage. But as soon as the ball hikes, you might see him back in the middle of the field.

"He plays with a lot of energy and flies around," Jones added. "He's hard hitter."

Added Giants tight end Evan Engram: "When you watch him on field, you think of him like a spider, just jumping around the field. The dude is just rangy … he's a hell of a player."

Engram recalled a hit from "Harry The Hitman" in Week 5 during which Smith broke up a pass down the seam.

The tight end, who noted that "had the biggest impact in the game" of any safety he saw in 2019, described what it was like to get popped by Smith.

"That hit, he gave me a nice hit … I thought I had an easy touchdown," Engram said. "As soon as the ball hit my hands … bam, right in the back. He was right there in a split second.

"My eyes were wide open … the ball was coming, and I'm fully relaxed," Engram continued. "As soon as the ball hit my hands, I'm getting rocked. I was shook because when I took my eyes off him, he had outside leverage and was backpedaling.

"That is the hardest I've been hit in my three years," Engram added. "He got a lot of my respect that game."

Smith tied for the team lead with 12 passes defended in 2019. Analytics site Pro Football Focus graded Smith at 91.4 for his play this past season, which trailed only teammate Anthony Harris (91.6) among all safeties.

A pair of Smith's former defensive teammates raved about what it was like to share the field with a player was is seemingly all over it for four quarters.

"It looks like he's freelancing or improving a play, but because he's so into the film and has seen it before, that's why he breaks so fast and hits so hard and knows where to be," said former Vikings defensive end Stephen Weatherly, who is now in Carolina. "He's always in the right place at the right time."

Former Vikings cornerback Trae Waynes, now with the Bengals, added: "We had a joke in the DB room that Harry gets to blitz whenever he wants to. Whenever Harry gets on the line [of scrimmage] … he gets to blitz again.

"He disguises it so well," Waynes added.

Smith recorded 84 total tackles (team stats) with five tackles for loss, a sack, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, and three interceptions.

View the top photos of Vikings S Harrison Smith from the 2019 season.

His 23 career interceptions rank seventh in team history, and he ranks first among all franchise players with four career interception returns for touchdowns.

Linebacker Eric Kendricks was the first Vikings player unveiled on the list as he made his debut at No. 83 on Sunday night.

The series, which was created in 2011, continues on NFL Network on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. (CT) with players 40-31, 30-21 and 20-11 revealed over the course of three, one-hour episodes.

The listing of the players in the 70-61 grouping were as follows:

70. Fred Warner, LB, San Francisco

69. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona

68. Ryan Tannehill, QB, Tennessee

67. Demario Davis, LB, New Orleans

66. Laremy Tunsil, OT, Houston

65. Tyler Lockett, WR, Seattle

64. Smith

63. Preston Smith, LB, Green Bay

62. David Bakhtiari, LB, Green Bay

61. Jarvis Landry, WR, Cleveland