The hope of every general manager, head coach and front office staff is to add a player who makes an immediate impact but is also a franchise cornerstone for years to come.
A panel of ESPN writers recently released their list of each team’s top pick over the last 10 years, and the versatile Smith was the pick for Vikings reporter Courtney Cronin.
The 29th overall pick in the first round of the 2012 draft, Smith has been a foundation piece in Minnesota’s secondary since his rookie year. Widely considered not only the best safety, but one of the best players in the NFL, Smith put together perhaps his best season in 2017. Smith earns this designation because he is without a doubt an irreplaceable piece of Mike Zimmer’s vaunted defense.
Smith recorded 93 total tackles with 10 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks during a 2017 season in which he earned All-Pro honors. He also tied a career-high with five interceptions.
Smith was the NFC Defensive Player of the Week for his Week 16 performance in Green Bay when he nabbed a pair of interceptions to go along with seven total tackles as the Vikings shut out the Packers.
The former Notre Dame standout has appeared in three straight Pro Bowls, although he was snubbed initially last year.
Vikings among handful of NFC teams with lofty goals
The Vikings are coming off a 13-3 season in which they reached the NFC title game and have put together a noteworthy offseason by adding quarterback Kirk Cousins and defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, among others.
That means Minnesota has lofty goals entering the 2018 season, the fifth under Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer.
But the Vikings aren’t the only team in the conference who has…