It seems like such a long time ago now, but the Senior Bowl is always an important aspect of the evaluation process for the Vikings. That aspect became even more important this year because the Vikings were assigned to coach the North squad.
While there’s no question coaching in the Senior Bowl is a taxing endeavor for many parts of the organization, there’s also no doubt that coaching in the Senior Bowl can give a team a significant advantage in the pre-draft player evaluation process. Having players sit in team meetings and run through the coaching staff’s position drills gives coaches and scouts the kind of up-close look they normally would not see.
“That was the one huge advantage of being able to coach the Senior Bowl because we got to know those players inside and out and know what they are about,” Vikings GM Rick Spielman said. “How they are in a meeting room. How they are out on the field. Our coaches know what it’s like to coach that player so that was a huge advantage for us and we know exactly what we are getting in Harrison Smith.”
Smith did enough at Notre Dame to warrant consideration as a 1st-round pick in this year’s draft. But it sounds like the Vikings experience with Smith at the Senior Bowl was more than enough to create significant interest in the 6-2, 214-pound safety.
“I thought I played well and did a good job and tried to do what they wanted me to do,” Smith said late Thursday night after being selected with the 29th overall pick. “But they never said anything about that they were going to draft me; there were a lot of good players down there. I think it was just trying to get to know each other well and at the end of the day, I think they think I’m a good fit for them and I 100 percent agree.”
Why is Smith a good fit for the Vikings? Oh, let Spielman count the ways.
“I think he can do both, and that’s the thing that’s most appealing,” Spielman responded when asked if Smith was better versus the pass or run. “I know that he’s very aggressive in run support, very smart football player, very smart with his angles. Big safety that plays fast, but I also know how smart he is in coverage. Just watching the angles he takes to break on a pass, the anticipation to watch the quarterback and get a jump on a throw as its coming out. He has a lot of those instincts, that ability to make plays because he’s so smart and so instinctive.”
Tags: Harrison Smith, Leslie Frazier
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