NFL Top 10 Safeties 2011
After reviewing the film from 2010 and taking recent history into account, here are the top 10 safeties in pro football heading into 2011.
Friendly Disclaimer: The following list is influenced largely -– but not strictly -– by film study of all 32 teams from the 2010 season. Stats weren’t acknowledged, but players with poor numbers generally don’t make top 10 lists anyway. Vague enough for you? Criteria for Top 10 lists tend to be. That’s why most of you will have no trouble finding some disagreement with what you’re about to read.
(Last year’s ranking in parenthesis.)
10. O.J. Atogwe, Redskins (NR)
Solid role player, but not a big-time creator.
9. Roman Harper, Saints (7)
Stupendous in the box but not so much in space. Save for the Wild Card disaster in Seattle, that’s been just fine in New Orleans’ scheme.
8. Jim Leonhard, Jets (NR)
A Swiss Army Knife in Rex Ryan’s pocket.
7. Malcolm Jenkins, Saints (NR)
Superb natural talent who can cover the slot man-to-man and make rangy plays from centerfield. If he can learn to harness his mental and physical aggressive instincts, he’ll be elite.
6. Eric Berry, Chiefs (not in league)
Extremely physical young whiz who eats up a lot of ground in a hurry. At this point, the writing on the wall is in all caps: FUTURE SUPERSTAR.
5. Nick Collins, Packers (5)
Classic rangy free safety. Understands angles and route combinations.
4. Antoine Bethea, Colts (6)
About as flashy as a Tuesday afternoon in Lubbock, TX, but there’s something to be said for calendar-like consistency. Indy’s secondary has survived gobs of injuries over the years because its centerfielder does everything well.
3. Antrel Rolle, Giants (8)
Played the role of Charles Woodson in New York last season. All-around versatility is a huge asset.
2. Ed Reed, Ravens (2)
Nothing new to report here.
1. Troy Polamalu, Steelers (1)
A future first ballot Hall of Famer. Great as he is, just for fun as an aside, let’s ponder this question: What would his reputation be if he didn’t have long hair?
On the cusp:
Kenny Phillips, Giants; Brian Dawkins, Broncos; Michael Griffin, Titans
Dropped from list:
Darren Sharper, Saints (3)
Brian Dawkins, Broncos (4)
Brandon Meriweather, Patriots (9)
Adrian Wilson, Cardinals (10)
Sharper and Dawkins are both aging. Meriweather, for some reason, stopped listening to his coaches early last year (he rebounded down the stretch, but not drastically enough). Wilson’s severe limitations in coverage make him a de facto linebacker.
Youngster who could burst onto next year’s list:
Earl Thomas, Seahawks
Took advantage of a few playmaking opportunities as a first-round rookie last season. Quick closing speed compensates for his underwhelming girth.