Is The Harrison Smith Era Coming To An End In Minnesota?

Since drafting Harrison Smith with the 29th Overall Pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, the Minnesota Vikings have had nothing short of greatness shining in front of them for the past 10 years. Since entering the league, Harrison Smith has led the NFL in interceptions since 2012 with 33, tied with Richard Sherman. Smith is second in the NFL for sacks by a defensive back with 16.5, trailing only Jamaal Adams with 21.5.

Smith has 6x Pro Bowl appearances, 1x All-Pro year, and was nominated for Defensive Player of the Year in 2018. Harrison Smith has received the honors of being one of the best safeties to play during the 2010s and has gained respect from his peers and other players around the league.

Nicknamed ‘Harry the Hitman’ for the hard hits he delivers to receivers and quarterbacks when blitzing, Smith is a truly unique player, and a rare talent to find on the football field.

This season, Smith has put up the same Pro Bowl, All-Pro numbers he has in the past. He currently has 72 tackles, 5 interceptions, 10 passes defended, and 58 yards allowed. Smith hasn’t gotten to the quarterback for a hit or sack yet but has been very useful on blitzes this season, causing pressure on the quarterback, hurrying the quarterback, and getting to the running back when needed.

Despite Smith still having an outstanding season, Vikings fans can’t help but think if it’s time to move on from Smith, as the youngsters on the rosters have begun to shine in the absence of first round pick Lewis Cine.

Second-year safety Camryn Bynum, who the Vikings took in the 4th round in the 2021 NFL Draft, has been having a great season in place of Cine. Through Week 13 Bynum has 56 tackles, 2 interceptions, and 2 fumble recoveries (both of which from tackles he assisted on but was not credited with the forced fumble).

Bynum is young, and has proved that he has what it takes to be a good starting safety in this league. Smith is still under contract for the 2023 NFL season, but with Lewis Cine returning, and an already youthful Vikings team; is this the end of the road for Harrison Smith in a Vikings’ jersey?

Cine is a great young safety who will definitely be playing next year for the Vikings because his injury this year kept him from playing. If the Vikings keep Smith, Cine and Bynum will have to fight for the starting job, but the Vikings might want to evaluate how Cine plays on the field before looking towards the future with Harrison Smith.

The NFL has begun its turn towards relying on younger players, following the NBA, NHL, and a lot of different soccer leagues who do the same. Even if he ends up staying another year, Harrison Smith might just be its next victim.
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