2012 NFL Draft Recap: Where Will Harrison Smith Fit into the Vikings' Secondary?

Andrew GardaFeatured ColumnistMay 3, 2012

Among the odder moments for many media members at Radio City Music Hall during the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft was the move by the Vikings to trade back into the first round for safety Harrison Smith.

I've talked about this before, but there are no indications he wouldn't be there with the Vikings' second round pick.

The Giants had safety issues they pretty much solved with Antrel Rolle and Kenny Phillips, the Niners weren't aiming at a safety, the Rams and Colts were not looking at defense and I've checked with contacts in Denver and Smith was not a player they were interested in.

That aside, the Vikings took no chances that someone could move up for him, and you have to respect that. You like a guy—you get a guy.

With that settled (as much as it ever will be), where does Smith fit into the plans of the Vikings in 2012 and beyond?

Smith is a solid safety with good range and instincts who has a bit of a ball hawk in him. When the ball travels, he gets to it quickly and is often one of the first defenders in the area to arrive.

He's not particularly fast, but he plays faster than he times, in part because he reads plays so well.

On the downside, he doesn't have a great first step and doesn't look natural or smooth backpedaling.

He's no great cover guy, but his instincts and awareness allow him to make plays on the ball, especially in zone defense.

As it stands he's probably better than either Mistral Raymond or Jamarca Sanford, and he should fight immediately for a starting spot. He's likely to play free safety, so it's safe to assume Raymond is the one in more danger.

In a division with Matt Stafford, Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler throwing the ball to Calvin Johnson, Greg Jennings and Brandon Marshall, the Vikings need their best players on the field.

In short order, Harrison Smith will be one of those players.