Not that anyone should get too worked up over Pro Bowl selections, but leaving off Harrison Smith is beyond comprehension.
On Tuesday night, the NFL announced Pro Bowl rosters, which included Vikings Xavier Rhodes, Everson Griffen, Adam Thielen and Anthony Barr.
Clearly the four selected are deserving. Rhodes has matched up with – and shut down – the likes of Antonio Brown, Julio Jones and AJ Green this year. Griffen is one of the league’s fourth leading sacker with 13.0 on the season. Thielen is fifth in receiving yards. And Barr has had a bounce-back year, playing a role in the Vikings slowing down opponents’ running and short passing games.
But Smith is the centerpiece to Mike Zimmer’s defense. He ranks No. 1 by Pro Football Focus ratings among all safeties. His 64 tackles and three interceptions don’t begin to define his value to the No. 2 ranked defense in the NFL. Smith is one of the most versatile defenders in the league, lining up at linebacker, deep safety and slot corner throughout a given game.
Smith’s interception against the Chicago Bears set up the Vikings’ game-winning field goal. Against the Packers he picked up 1.5 sacks and an interception.
The Vikings’ 2012 first-round pick did appear in the Pro Bowl in both 2015 and 2016.
Nose tackle Linval Joseph was also left off the list. He ranks 13th among all NFL defensive tackles, but third by PFF ratings among NFC nose tackles.
Joseph has 3.5 sacks and 36 tackles this season while heading up one of the league’s elite run defenses.