Lunchbreak: PFF Ranks Smith in Top 25 of NFL’s Best Players Entering 2019

It’s no secret Harrison Smith has established himself as one of the best players in the league at his position.

Thanks to his ability to read plays before the snap, plus his versatility to play anywhere on the field, opposing quarterbacks always have to account for the Vikings safety before the snap.

Smith’s continued success was highlighted by Pro Football Focus. The analytics website recently began a countdown of the top 50 players in the league entering the 2019 season.

Smith landed at No. 21 on the list. PFF wrote:

Among the 70 NFL safeties with 2,000-plus defensive snaps played in the last five years (2014-18), only Earl Thomas (93.6) has earned a higher overall grade than Smith (92.6). The Vikings standout also ranks first in run-defense grade (96.4) and fourth in coverage grade (93.6) among the same group of qualifiers.

Smith has been named to four straight Pro Bowls and was also a First-Team All-Pro selection in 2017, when PFF graded him as the best player in the league.

PFF writer Sam Monson had plenty of praise for the former first-round pick at the time.

When you turn on the tape, you see a player at the heart of every meaningful play on the best defense in the NFL, and somebody that was far more influential than any other safety during the 2017 season.

Because he is a safety, Smith stands no chance of garnering any kind of MVP recognition, but if you look purely at the best players in the game this season, there is little doubt that he was one of the best in the game, and in PFF’s opinion, the best in the entire league.

Smith is entering his eighth season in the NFL and is slated to make his 100th career start in Week 2 at Green Bay.

The former Notre Dame standout ranks first in franchise history with four career pick-sixes.

McDermott welcomes competition at long snapper

Whether it’s at the backup quarterback spot, along the offensive and defensive lines or with a crowded wide receiver group, there will be no shortage of competition for roster spots during training camp.

But you can also add long snapper into the mix, as the Vikings currently have a pair of them on the roster in Kevin McDermott and Austin Cutting.

McDermott has been with the Vikings since the 2015 season. Cutting was a seventh-round selection out of the Air Force Academy.

Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press recently caught up with McDermott to get his take on the competition.

For now, McDermott is ready to continue what he said has been a respectful battle with Cutting.

“I don’t look at it as he’s my enemy,” McDermott said. “I look at it as he’s a teammate, and if he has a question, we go over things and I help try to explain stuff to him. I’m trying to learn things from him, and we’ll go down the path and see what happens.”

McDermott has missed one regular-season game in four seasons in Minnesota.

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