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Vikings' Harrison Smith voted top NFL safety by AP panel

Harrison Smith has been making his mark for years with giant hits and take hold of interceptions for the Minnesota Vikings.

As a key piece of one of the most NFL’s best defenses, the playmaking protection was once voted the highest participant within the league at his place by means of a panel of 10 writers for The Related Press.

“The unbiased analysts at Professional Soccer Center of attention rated Smith’s efficiency in 2017 the best possible by means of any participant at any place within the league,” Minneapolis-based AP author Dave Campbell stated. “This 12 months, the three-time Professional Bowl pick out has 3 interceptions and 3 sacks in 9 video games. No participant within the NFL hit either one of the ones marks over all the 2017 season.

“With Earl Thomas out for the 12 months, it is simple to look Smith as the highest protection within the league.”

The AP electorate overwhelmingly agreed. Smith gained 97 elements in a 10-points-to-one-point machine, garnering 8 of 10 first-place votes. He completed 2nd on one poll and 3rd at the different to simply outdistance the New York Giants’ Landon Collins, who had 69 elements.

“Now not handiest is Smith the transparent chief at this place, in particular along with his talents in protection,” stated New York-based author Barry Wilner, “however he is most certainly Minnesota’s most useful defensive participant.”

That is announcing so much, in particular with a group that comes with defensive finish Danielle Hunter, who leads the NFL with 11½ sacks.

“Smith is an elite cross defender who can bat away a throw or pick out off a cross on one play, then sack the QB at the subsequent,” Washington-based Howard Fendrich stated.

Smith completed 2nd in final 12 months’s vote casting, with Thomas profitable. The injured Seahawks big name, who is out for the season with a damaged left leg, had 59 elements — and gained one first-place vote, from Bay Space-based Josh Dubow — to complete 3rd this 12 months.

“Thomas continues to be the benchmark at protection regardless of a season-ending damage,” Dubow stated.

There have been 28 avid gamers who gained no less than one vote, however Smith and Collins had been the one safeties to look on all 10 ballots.

Collins jumped up two spots after completing fourth final 12 months. He does not have any interceptions but this season, however has firmly established himself as one of the most absolute best at his place.

“Yeah, he is on a group with one win (coming into Week 10), however Collins is robust tackler and cross defender,” New York-based Simmi Buttar stated.

Tennessee’s Kevin Byard is fourth with 54 elements, however gained the opposite first-place vote from Nashville-based Teresa M. Walker.

“Byard is simply getting higher with each and every sport,” Walker stated, “and he was once lovely excellent in 2017 when he was once an All-Professional who tied for the league lead with 8 interceptions and led the NFL with 10 takeaways.”

Byard has two interceptions this season, and led to rather a stir along with his big name activate his most up-to-date pick out. After intercepting Dak Prescott’s cross Monday night time in Tennessee’s 28-14 victory at Dallas, Byard ran to the 50-yard line at AT&T Stadium and danced along with his teammates at the Cowboys’ big name brand.

“He will have to’ve left the Cowboys big name stomp to Terrell Owens,” stated Philadelphia-based Rob Maaddi. “However Byard is a ball magnet and not an unknown across the league, even to Deion Sanders.”

Sanders and Byard were given right into a Twitter feud within the offseason about who the league’s best protection is. Top Time picked Tyrann Mathieu, who did not end within the AP’s best 10.

New England’s Devin McCourty was once 5th with 38 elements, and has been a fashion of consistency for Invoice Belichick’s protection.

“Any person who can stick see you later (9 years) on a revolving door that’s the Patriots’ protection is a unique performer,” Wilner stated.

McCourty was once adopted by means of Washington’s D.J. Swearinger, who had 36 elements.

“Swearinger does the whole thing smartly, from protection to run beef up to dashing the passer,” stated Dubow, who had him ranked 2nd on his poll.

The Jets’ Jamal Adams (24 elements), Los Angeles Chargers rookie Derwin James (21), Baltimore’s Eric Weddle (20) and Kansas Town’s Eric Berry (19) rounded out the highest 10.

Berry seemed on six ballots regardless of having now not performed since final 12 months’s season opener.

“He may well be No. 1 if he had performed a down this season,” Fendrich stated. “If he recovers sufficient from the heel damage that has stored him out for each and every sport to this point, he can be a giant issue within the playoffs for the Chiefs.”

———

The scores:

1. Harrison Smith, Vikings

2. Landon Collins, Giants

three. Earl Thomas, Seahawks

four. Kevin Byard, Titans

five. Devin McCourty, Patriots

6. D.J. Swearinger, Redskins

7. Jamal Adams, Jets

eight. Derwin James, Chargers

nine. Eric Weddle, Ravens

10. Eric Berry, Chiefs

———

Extra AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP—NFL

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