A large bodied safety who even saw time as a linebacker early in his college career, Harrison Smith is an interesting prospect with potential to play either free or strong safety in the NFL. A four year starter for Notre Dame, Smith accumulated an impressive 309 tackles in his college career, including two consecutive years of 90+ tackles. He also added 7 interceptions in 2010, but none in his other three years, and could struggle if asked to play man coverage against wide receivers at the pro-level. By all accounts he’s a smart player with a prototypical build (6’2” and 213lbs) and at worst should be a backup level player or special team daemon.
Safety was an area that clearly needed addressing in the draft for the Vikings, so their trade back into the first round to select a player with Smith’s calibre in no surprise. The incumbent starting strong safety, Jamarca Sanford, did himself no favours last year ranking as the worst at his position in the NFL (-17.7), while the projected starter opposite him is last year’s sixth round selection, Mistral Raymond, who hardly lit the world alight either (-0.9). Having been an exceptionally productive college player and a now virtual lock for a 1,000+ snap season on a team that could find itself trailing in games (and having the clock run down against them), I like Smith’s upside instantly as a late round flyer and DB3/4.