|First Round draft pick Harrison Smith will provide an improvement |
to last season's terrible backside coverage
We will continue our position series with a look at the safety position. This position caused many issues for a terrible Vikings defense last season. The backend of the defense was extremely weak and many teams exploited that weakness. The Viking felt this issue needed to be addressed this offseason, so they drafted Notre Dame saftey Harrison Smith in the first round. Smith was an excellent draft pick for the Vikings. He was a big 6' 2" physical cornerback when he played in the Big East conference. His Notre Dame coaches have said he was the leader of the defense at Notre Dame. He worked to get everyone lined up in the correct position. This is the type of leadership the Vikings need to turn the defense around.
Jamarca Sanford started last season and is in his forth season as a Viking. Sanford was a terrible tackler last season and was not a legitimate option as a starting safety. Sanford I feel can make a contribution on special teams and is better suited to do so. He is a hard hitter and was great on special teams earlier in his career.
I would like to see the Vikings start Mistral Raymond alongside Harrison Smith. Raymond was drafted out of South Florida. Per Vikings.com, Mistral was the first USF player drafted by the Minnesota Vikings. Which is a fact I did not realize until reading about his past. I really liked how he was always around the ball last season. I think with a year under his belt he will be able to execute and make big plays for the Vikings.
The Vikings also drafted Robert Blanton out of Notre Dame this season. When he was drafted he was listed as a cornerback, but Coach Frazier would like to convert him into a safety. I like this thought due to Blanton's stature. He is physically built and reminds me of Ike Taylor of the Pittsburgh Steelers. He hits hard like Taylor and is always around the ball. I remember watching Notre Dame play Michigan State on NBC last year. Blanton made an interception and made several phenomenal cuts to get to the endzone. I really like the thought of having Blanton on the roster because he makes things happen.
Eric Frampton is listed as a safety, but has been primarily a special teams ace. Last season he recorded 20 tackles, the most in his career. I have always liked Frampton on special teams, but feel like his time may be over and that there may be better options on special teams. At training camp I will be watching for players who will compete with Frampton for his job.
Overall, I feel like the players drafted and those who have gained a year of experience will help improve the safety position sooner rather than later. Which is a must when playing in a league where passing is so prevalent.