Editor's Note: With the offseason in full swing, the focus is now shifting to the 2016 season, where the Cowboys have one of the toughest schedules in the NFL. Not only do the Cowboys face five playoff teams but many of the top players in football. So the writers of DallasCowboys.com have ranked the Top 50 players expected to be on the field this season, including the Cowboys. Today, we continue the list with Vikings safety Harrison Smith.)
Name: Harrison Smith
Height/Weight: 6-2 / 211
Experience: 4 seasons
College: Notre Dame
2016 vs. Cowboys:The Cowboys will travel to Minnesota for their first-ever game at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on Thursday, Dec. 1.
What's the Deal: The deal for Smith, is the one he just signed earlier this month. Smith is one of eth NFL's highest-paid safeties, earning a five-year extension worth $51.25 million. Smith's contract pays him about $10.25 million per season. Other than Eric Berry's one-year franchise tag salary of $10.8 million per season, Smith annually makes more than any other safety in the league.
Smith is coming off his first Pro Bowl of his career in 2015, despite seeing his numbers drop somewhat from the previous year. Still, with another interception return for a touchdown, Smith now has four career scores in four seasons.
Expect This: With former Cowboys' DC Mike Zimmer now running the show in Minnesota, the Vikings will most certainly have a stout defensive unit. Smith is one the team's top defenders, finding himself around the ball both as a tackler and turnover-machine. Expect him to give the Cowboys a variety of looks both as a blitzer and run supporter and a deep-coverage defender. Smith's versatility is used as a weapon for the Vikings.
Previous Meetings: Smith has never faced the Cowboys, having missed the 2013 regular-season matchup at AT&T Stadium. Dallas won the game 27-23 with a last-minute drive by Tony Romo, who hit Dwayne Harris over the middle for a go-ahead touchdown in the final seconds. Several plays were made over the middle of Minnesota's defense in the last drive, an area usually covered by Smith, who missed half of the season with a toe injury.
Bryan Broaddus Scouting Report:
- Shows the ability to play up or back. Very physical at the point of attack. Is always around the ball mixing it up.
- Can carry the back up the field in coverage. Beats blockers to the point to make tackles. Fights through trash to get to the ball. Can jam the receiver at the line. Does things that makes receivers mad at him. Plays with physical toughness and strength.
- His pedal has some tightness to it when he has to play deep. He's a much better player when he can come forward. When he sees it, he is gone. Make him turn and head up the field, that's where he tends to have his struggles.[embeddedad0]
- Outstanding football intelligence. Hard guy to fool with movement. Appears to always be in the right place. Tends to play faster than his timed speed. Has improved his range and ability to cover ground since his days at Notre Dame. Reacts well.
- Overall, has good body control and balance but there are snaps where you see him miss in space when going for a tackle. Can be an explosive hitter. Strikes on the move.
- Plays more underneath zone coverage than deep. Reactions are good when the ball is thrown in his area.
- Not much up and down in his overall play. Very steady and consistent. Plays with poise and instincts. Ball tends to come his way. Creates turnovers with his positioning. This is one of those players that makes those around him better.
The writers of DallasCowboys.com have ranked the Top 50 players expected to be on the field this season, including the Cowboys.