The Minnesota Vikings announced Friday that two defensive backs from the Alliance of American Football (AAF) league have signed.
The AAF put a sudden halt to all league operations earlier this week, putting every player in the league up for grabs to NFL teams who have had the past two months to watch them compete in the professional league.
A duo from the San Antonio Commanders is now signed with the Vikings: safety Derron Smith and cornerback Duke Thomas.
Smith, originally drafted by the Bengals in the sixth round of the 2015 NFL Draft, played two seasons in the NFL before being waived three games into the 2017 season. He had 21 tackles in eight games with the San Antonio this season.
At Fresno State, Smith intercepted six passes as a sophomore and seven more during his junior season. His 15 career interceptions are tied for third most in Fresno State history.
Smith flashed some brilliance in the AAF, being named the player of the year by Pro Football Focus. More on his eight games of dominant coverage:
"On 309 snaps in coverage, Smith led the league at any position on defense with his 93.2 coverage grade as he intercepted three passes and broke up another five. He stuck his head in on 37 total tackles and missed just three while his eight defensive stops were a top-10 figure among safeties. His prowess in the secondary for the Commanders make him a legitimate candidate to potentially land a spot in the NFL this next season."
Thomas signed with the Texans as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Texas in 2016, later spending time with the Eagles, 49ers and Cowboys. He led San Antonio's AAF team with 22 tackles, one interception and a fumble recovery this season.