Having started some good dialogue around CB’s, I thought I would take a crack at ranking the teams in the area of Safeties. Now, just so people stop the hate mail (I’m not really getting any hate mail, but it seemed appropriate to make my point), this is one person’s opinion and it’s no better or worse than yours. Someone once told me, opinions are like rear ends…everyone has one. The analysis was based on the starters’ history and any obvious proven quality depth. I did weigh accolades and awards, but I also looked at how those players benefited from great pass rushes or suffered from poor ones. Anyhow, here goes;
1. Colts: This one was easy because both Bob Sanders (defensive player of the year) and Antoine Bethea made the Pro Bowl, but beyond that, they would have done so on any team. Sanders is widely recognized as the heart and soul of a defense that was the best the Colts have had since they moved to Indy. Matt Giordano has starting experience and is solid. Bottom line: I’m a Cowboys fan through and through, but show me a fan who doesn’t like watching Bob Sanders hurl his body into a guy 50 pounds heavier than him and I’ll show you a fan who doesn’t really appreciate the game of football.
2. Ravens: Ed Reed is still the premier ballhawk in game and Dawan (cousin of more heralded Redskins’ LaRon) Landry has been a revelation since being picked in the 5th round of the ’06 draft. The Ravens also drafted Tom Zbikowski of Notre Dame to add some hitting power to the position.
3. Vikings: With Darren Sharper and Madieu Williams, the Vikes have two studs (is it me or do the Vikings have one heck of a scary defense on paper?) patrolling their deep secondary. Williams can cover any TE and Sharper makes a lot of plays, though he is getting on in years. Maybe that’s why they drafted Tyrell Johnson, an athletic freak with great small school numbers who lots of Cowboys draftniks were hoping to land. Michael Boulware is a proven player who has flashed some pop.
4. Seahawks: Having the benefit of NFL Sunday Ticket (God Bless America, I just love it) on both a 65-inch and 42-inch TV each with their own DVR, I get to watch a lot of football. There are two reasons the Seahawks allowed only 15 (yep, 15) TD passes last year. One is good CB play and the other is good SS/FS play. Deon Grant and Brian Russell were seemingly never out of position (why does the name of a certain Safety always come to mind when I use the words, ‘out of position’?) and seemed to know exactly what the other was doing. As if that wasn’t enough, Jordan Babineaux would come in and give some poor WR a lick whenever he got a chance. This is a great secondary, probably the best four starting DB’s in football.
5. Cowboys: This is where I get a lot of people saying I am crazy for ranking Dallas this high and that I am a Homer. Maybe you’re right, but Ken Hamlin was everything you could ever want in a Free Agency addition last year. Despite Roy Williams’ deficiencies in coverage, there is no better in-the-box safety (including Polamalu, Rodney Harrison and Donte Whitner) anywhere. Look, I know it’s not Charlie Waters and Cliff Harris, but the NFL isn’t loaded with great Safety tandems. If Pat Watkins could learn to read keys a bit better, he could make up for his sub-par ball skills and minor hip stiffness. It remains to be seen what losing Keith Davis will mean.
6. Titans: Chris Hope and ex-Longhorn Michael Griffin are both big in run support. They would rank higher if Griffin wasn’t going into just his sophomore season. Vincent Fuller is a proven player who does what he gets paid to do.
Teams that could have ranked higher; Arizona has a great player in Adrian Wilson and an unknown in Antrel Rolle (moving from CB), Bucs Safeties Jermaine Phillips and Tanard Jackson are both good, not great and the Steelers with Polamalu and Ryan Clark who can’t seem to both be healthy at the same time.
Okay, your turn...