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S Harrison Smith: Scouting Report

1st Round: Pick 29

Harrison Smith
College: Notre Dame
Position: Safety
Height/Weight: 6’2/213 lbs.

Scouting Reports

Eric Galko
Optimum Scouting

Report completed by Alex Smith
Final Grade: 7.6/10

Able to play either safety position, covering the deep middle from the free or playing inside the box at strong safety, Harrison Smith’s experience and versatility will undoubtedly make him a hot commodity at the 2012 NFL Draft. As a hard working, 2-time captain at Notre Dame with extensive starter experience, Smith possesses the ideal mental makeup and the leadership qualities to be a long-term starter at the NFL level. Has enough size to match up with tight ends, shows the foot quickness to stick with running backs in man coverage, and more importantly displays the range necessary to cover large amounts of grass. Excellent read and react defender that plays the ball in front of him very well. Runs well for his size and has plus instincts and feel for the game; was always the most active defender in games studied, constantly getting his head in on the action for assisted tackles. Attacks the alley under control and on time. Works through trash and locates ball carrier very well from within the box, and is as reliable a tackler as you will find. Slides down off of initial contact when squaring up for solo tackles, but fires his hips and hands to consistently wrap the ball carrier to the dirt. Sees a running lane and is quick to fill it, occasionally flashing closing speed and heavy hitting power to hit and stick the runner in the hole. Does a great job of disguising coverages with presnap alignments, and even showed effectiveness in blitzing situations, with a plus first step and anticipation of the snap. Attacks the ball aggressively in air and continually put on display excellent ball skills. Plays with a rare blend of instincts and high football IQ. Smith can expect to be taken off the board before the end of the second round, but could go as high as the late first, due to the lack of elite talent at safety. Addressed concerns over his athleticism with an NFL combine workout that exhibited plus athletic ability and explosiveness, cementing his status as 2nd best safety in this draft class. Though a bit tightly wound and upright, Smith has the tools and experience teams want.

Dane Brugler

A four-year starter, Harrison Smith was a highly regarded recruit out of HS, choosing Notre Dame overTennessee, Stanford andAuburn. After redshirting in 2007, he soon earned his way onto the field at both OLB and SS in 2008 as a true freshman (13 gp/9 st), recording 57 tkls, 8.5 tfl, 3.5 sacks, and 7 pbu. Smith started all 12 games in 2009 as a sophomore at both LB and S (12 gp/12 st – 6 S, 6 OLB), finishing with 69 tkls, 6.5 tfl, 4 pbu and 1 FF. He had his most productive season in 2010 as a junior (13 gp/13 st), finishing second on the team with 91 tkls and led the Irish with 7 INTs (fourth in the FBS) and 7 pbu. Smith returned in 2011 as a senior captain (13 gp/13 st), recording 90 tkls, 3.0 tfl, 1 FF and a career-best 10 pbu, but didn’t record an INT.

STRENGTHS: Smith looks the part with prototypical size and strength for a SS – long arms with a filled-out frame. He is extremely strong with natural power to make punishing hits – physical striker who enjoys contact. Smith fills the run lanes hard and is a downhill athlete with an aggressive nature at the POA. He plays fast and closes in a flash with conviction and determination – fast in pursuit. Smith makes plays at all levels of the field and has strong hands to make shoe-string tackles. He read/reacts quickly and does a nice job reading the eyes of the QB. Smith is a big-time competitor and leader, never giving up on plays – goes hard at full speed. He is very active pre-snap and shows natural awareness. Smith played both OLB and S in college with 47 career starts, showing steady improvement over his time inSouth Bend. He was very productive at Notre Dame, leaving as the only player in school history to register more than 200 tkls, 15 tfl and 15 pbu over his career – finished with 307 tkls, 18.5 tfl and 28 pbu.

WEAKNESSES: Smith is an upright athlete who lacks ideal body flexibility and natural explosion to hold up in coverage or space. He has tight hips and struggles to turn and quickly change directions – plays stiff. Smith needs to be a more technically-sound tackler, often going for the knockout hit or FF instead of wrapping up – hits too high and loses leverage, allowing ballcarriers to pick up extra yds. He plays overaggressive and moves too fast for his eyes – missed tackles in space and over runs plays. Smith has streaky instincts and doesn’t see things as quick as he needs to – still has a lot of developing to do. He needs to play under control and disciplined – too many unnecessary facemask penalties on his record. Smith has poor footwork and feel in man coverage and is too hands-on when left on an island – will attract pass interference penalties. He still made too many mistakes as a senior and didn’t register an INT in 2011 after seven in 2010.

OVERALL: Smith is a hybrid LB/S prospect with the build, straight-line speed and natural power to turn heads – downhill defender whose shortcomings athletically are exposed in coverage. He is a much better player facing the action, struggling with his back to the ball – frustrating prospect because he shows flashes with his natural skill and playmaking ability, but is too inconsistent verse both the run and pass. Smith is rough around the edges and is far from starting in the NFL because of his limitations in coverage and mental mistakes, but he should excel on special teams coverage with his closing and hitting ability – an in-the-box safety prospect who will impress physically, but shouldn’t be drafted in the top-60 picks on draft weekend.



To be honest, I wasn’t a a huge fan of the pick last night but I am starting to warm up to it. Vikings arguably have the worst set of safeties is all of the league so Smith is an immediate upgrade and starter. I thought the Vikings could target a WR or CB on a trade up but they felt the drop off for safety after Smith was too much to pass on. Smith should help out a struggling secondary that ranked towards the bottom in 2011 and seems like a great fit for the tampa-2 scheme the Vikings run.

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5 Responses to “S Harrison Smith: Scouting Report”

  1. SDViking says:

    I felt the same at the time of the pick. I was really hoping we’d take Hill there but I can see why we took Smith.

    That being said, does anyone know more details on the trade that didn’t happen between JAX and us? Apparently there was almost an agreement to trade down again from 4.

    Also, any word on what we are thinking for round 2? WR is still a need and I’m interested to see if Hill/Jeffries fall if we’d package our 3rd and 5th to move up.

    If we don’t, I hope we grab McNutt or Trumaine Johnson in round 3.


    • Randy Perrin says:

      From what I hear is the Vikes didn’t want to go anywhere beyond pick 5 in fear of Kalil being gone.

      For 2nd round, don’t be surprised if Vikes trade up for Jeffery. Heard they really like him and he’s a target of theirs. I wouldnt count out Hill or Randle either but I believe Jeffery is their guy if they go receiver.

      Plenty of talented players left so hopefully Spielman can keep up his good work after a real solid round 1.

  2. VikingJohn says:

    This is a good pick. Only 3 S’s on the roster and Frampton is a special teamer? I would say it was one of our needed positions.
    Now get Wr, Cb and some Lb’s. Not much depth at linebacker
    Go Vikes

  3. […] is the scouting report for you on the Vikings new Safety Harrison Smith. Enjoyed this post? Subscribe to Vikings Gab via RSS Feed or E-mail and receive daily news updates […]

  4. Mark Trice says:

    Now let’s get the rest of our picks signed before training camp beings …. All of us Viking fans do not want any hold outs during camp !!

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