NFL’s Top 5 Safeties Entering the 2014 Season
The thing about creating lists is that they are 1) highly subjective and hence, 2) produce tons of debate, counter-arguments, conjecture about omissions, and scrutiny regarding ranking one player over another. To be sure, there is no way to cleanly separate opinions, tastes, inherent biases (opinions) apart from film, team schemes and individual ability (facts), but one thing is for certain: numbers don’t lie, particularly those that cannot be massaged to suit one’s argument over another.
And as such, here are the Top 5 Safeties Heading into the 2014 Season:
1. Earl Thomas, Seattle Seahawks.
What DOESN’T Thomas do? He covers sideline to sideline in pass defense, he stuffs the run. He covers slot receivers at times. He takes on tight ends. He hits guys who have 40-50 lbs on him as if they were small WRs. And he has great hands to pick off passes and return punts. All at a supremely high level. Earl Thomas is unquestionably the best safety in the NFL.
2. Eric Berry, Kansas City Chiefs.
Eric Berry is not far behind Thomas. He does everything that Thomas does, and has just as much top end speed. There isn’t much separation between the two, although Thomas is a bit more versatile, overall.
3. Jairus Byrd, New Orleans Saints.
When guys play in Buffalo for years, they tend to fly under the radar. The Bills have consistently churned out talented individual defensive players and now have a collection on defense that is pretty damn good — except Byrd is now a member of the New Orleans Saints. Along with Kenny Vaccaro, he is expected to form a very tough tandem of hard-hitting/ball-hawking safety play. He is routinely atop the NFL leaders in interceptions for very good reason.
4. Antrel Rolle, New York Football Giants.
Rolle was the best player for the Giants in 2013, and has brought a swaggering presence somewhat similar to that of Richard Sherman (although not always backing it up as Sherman does, but plays harder and smarter than anyone on the defensive side of the football for the past four seasons). He still flat out makes plays at every level: in the box, blitzing, down short in coverage and playing centerfield. The quintessential safety, even at the age of 32.
5. Kam Chancellor, Seattle Seahawks.
Eric Weddle, San Diego Chargers.
Bernard Pollard, Tennessee Titans.
TJ Ward, Denver Broncos.
Aaron Williams, Buffalo Bills.
Devin McCourty, New England Patriots.