The Vikings added their first defensive player of the 2019 NFL Draft on Saturday by picking Cameron Smith.Minnesota took the Southern Cal linebacker with the 162nd overall pick of the draft.
In the fifth round of the 2019 NFL Draft, the Minnesota Vikings added former USC linebacker Cameron Smith, who should help improve the team’s defensive depth.
Depth on the defensive side of the ball is something that many felt the Minnesota Vikings would look to improve with some of their selections in the 2019 NFL Draft.Looking at how the Vikings added all offensive players with their first four picks of the draft, it was pretty obvious that Minnesota wasn’t too worried about any of their starters on defense for the 2019 season. However, a number of Vikings defenders did miss time with injuries last year and as a result, the unit wasn’t as dominating as it was in 2017.
So in an effort to prevent that from happening again next season, Minnesota boosted the talent level of their defensive depth with some of their selections in this year’s NFL Draft. One of these picks came in the fifth round when the Vikings selected former USC linebacker Cameron Smith. “I really wanted to be part of this organization,’’ Browing said of why he chose the Vikings. “I formed relations (during the draft process) with (assistant head coach/offensive adviser Gary) Kubiak and I just felt like it was my best option.’’
Kubiak knows plenty about reserve quarterbacks. He was John Elway’s backup in Denver from 1983-91.
For someone on the Vikings who has known Browning the longest, the guy to turn to is linebacker Cameron Smith, taken out of USC in the fifth round of the draft. The two are both from the Sacramento, Calif., area and competed against each other in youth ball, high school and in college.
“I’ve been playing against Cameron Smith since we were like nine,’’ Browning said. “It’s kind of cool.’’
One game Smith wants to forget came in 2014 when his Granite Bay High team lost to Browning’s Folsom High team 63-0. Browning threw five touchdowns for Folsom, which went 16-0 that season and won the California state title. It’s been over five months since USC’s football season ended. In the time since, some former Trojans have been on what’s felt like a nearly half-year job interview.
For guys like Cameron Smith, it’s been a long series of workouts, combines, meetings with teams and then, most frustratingly, waiting. But now we’ve reached NFL Draft week, with the three-day event beginning with the first round Thursday.
And after the long, arduous process, Smith is wondering how the time went so quickly. “For some reason, life just keeps going by faster and faster,” Smith said. “I’m going to enjoy being with my friends as long as I can and see where it goes from there.”
The first big milestone Smith crossed was his workout at the NFL Combine in late February, where he ran a 4.69-second 40-yard dash and jumped 39 inches in the vertical jump. Like several other prospects, Smith got some unexpected questions, like how he’d rate himself in Madden or what’s something illegal he’s done that he never got caught doing.
In March, he attended USC’s pro day but limited his participation in drills. From there, Smith went into some individual meetings with teams. He worked out with the Titans and Saints, went to a Chargers pro-day camp and had a three-hour sit-down with Panthers linebackers coach Steve Russ.
The Vikings got a steal with Cameron Smith. I am a huge USC fan and watched him a lot. When healthy, he is a dominant football player. Where and how do you think the Vikings will use him? Great edge rusher in my opinion.
The Vikings obviously have two studs at linebacker with Anthony Barr and Erik Kendricks. With the defense in sub packages on more than half of the snaps, there aren’t a lot of game reps to go around for linebackers not named Barr and Kendricks. The team likes Ben Gedeon and there’s quality depth behind the top three with Kentrell Brothers and Eric Wilson. With that being said, Smith did play both inside and outside linebacker at USC, so that only increases his chances of seeing the field on defense. However, it’ll be on special teams where Smith will likely see his first and most significant opportunity to contribute.