Josh Metellus is Going to Play a Critical Role in Minnesota’s Success

Jun 15, 2021; in Eagen, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings safety Josh Metellus (44) breaks up a pass intended for wide receiver Zach Davidson (40) during drills at OTA at TCO Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports

Coming into the season, I believed that Josh Metellus would end up on the roster, largely due to his abilities on special teams. For a little while now, the young safety has made excellent tackles in coverage. What I didn’t anticipate was his role within Ed Donatell’s defense.

Harrison Smith – an All Pro – is an unquestioned starter. The uncertainty seemed to rest in the competition between Camryn Bynum and Lewis Cine. Bynum switched from college corner to NFL safety in 2021. In some limited snaps, Bynum impressed, so many thought he had a legit shot at being the starter opposite Smith. The competition would mostly be with Cine, who was chosen at the end of the first round.

In the end, Bynum earned the starting spot. Many assumed Cine would be the S3 on the team’s depth chart, but that’s a perspective that ended up being misguided. When Smith needed to miss time, it was Metellus who got the start. Folks, he played well in Week 3. He played 100% of the defensive snaps and he piled up 11 tackles.

Obviously, much of our recent focus has been on Cine’s injury. The word is that surgery was positive, so hopefully the young safety is able to get back onto the field soon.

In the meantime, Josh Metellus will get some further opportunity to show that he’s capable of being a strong contributor on defense. Smith and Bynum remain the starters, but Metellus will be the first one off the bench if either need to miss time. Plus, we may even see some of those three-safety looks. Instead of Cine, though, it’ll be Metellus partnering with the starting two.

Metellus was chosen in the 6th round of the 2020 NFL Draft. He is still only 24, so he has plenty of years ahead of him. In college, Metellus played for Michigan. He had 5 interceptions and 9 TFLs over his final two seasons.

The draft profile on the NFL’s website suggested that Metellus would be strong against the run:

Plays downhill in run support. Technical tackler with high finishing rate. Fits gap with quick gather-and-strike talent. May offer positional versatility on the next level. Possesses balance and hips for short-area coverage duties. Foot twitch for transitions from coverage to close-out. Aggressive clawing at catch-point. Strike to jar football loose from receivers. Early recognition and response to play-action. Gets head around to find football downfield.

PFF suggests that Metellus has done well against both the run and pass in 2022. His overall grade is a healthy 77.2, which is 11th-best among safeties. He has played 69 snaps at free safety and 14 in the box. He then has 8 snaps in the slot and 1 out wide. Otherwise, it’s been a lot of plays on special teams.

As the season continues, Josh Metellus will continue being a key contributor on special teams. If there is need, he’ll also get some opportunity with the defense. He has shown that he’s capable of doing both at a high level.