Positional Rankings: Safeties

Offense · Defense
Safeties · Cornerbacks · Inside Linebackers · Outside Linebackers · Tackle · End

Pete Prisco ranks his top NFL players at each position. BlaqOptic provided his list of top safeties. Also check out Prisco's Top 50

1. Ed Reed, RavensBlaqOptic's Rankings

Games played: 16 Tackles: 41
Interceptions: 9 Touchdowns: 3
Analysis: He isn't the big hitter some of the other safeties can be, but he's the best playmaker of them all. And he's a willing tackler.
1. Troy Polamalu, Steelers
Comment: Polamalu does it all. He hasn't been healthy for two straight seasons, but went to two straight unearned Pro Bowls. Last year, he was the best safety in the NFL. Polamalu displayed Zone Coverage range comaprable to, but not as good as Ed Reed. He also displayed strong Man Coverage and the ability to make plays in the box, evidenced by 73 Tackles and four run stuffs.
2. Adrian Wilson, Cardinals

Games played: 15 Tackles: 75
Interceptions: 2 Touchdowns: 0
Analysis: He showed his value to the nation last year during the Cardinals' Super run. He's a violent tackler and excels in the blitz game.
2. Kerry Rhodes, Jets
Comment: While Troy Polamalu was making unwarranted Pro Bowl and All-Pro teams, Rhodes was the guy playing at the level that everyone believed Polamalu had been playing at. Rhodes is so good that in Mangini's system he was simply a "Safety" because he could play both roles well. He showed strong Zone and Man coverage, as well as an ability to time blitzes and stuff the run.
3. Troy Polamalu, Steelers

Games played: 16 Tackles: 73
Interceptions: 7 Touchdowns: 0
Analysis: He bounced back from a sub-par 2007 season to have a good 2008 season. He's improved in pass protection greatly from his early days.
3. Ed Reed, Ravens
Comment: If you prefer a prototypical free safety that merely picks off passes, than Reed is your guy and the best safety in the NFL. If you want a playmaker that can score once he gets the ball in his hands, than Reed is by far the best safety. However, if you want a guy who has an all-around game with coverage ability and can play in the box while blitzing at an elite level, then he isn't your guy. He's only got Zone Coverage left in the tank.
4. Bob Sanders, Colts

Games played: 6 Tackles: 39
Interceptions: 1 Touchdowns: 0
Analysis: The only thing that has held him back has been the injuries. If he can stay healthy, he can be as good as any at this position.
4. Adrian Wilson, Cardinals
Comment: Wilson is an absolute monster in the box. In fact, he's 1.5 sacks and two interceptions away from becoming the fourth member of the 20-20 Club. He has 38 plays behind the line of scrimmage since 2005. The 2nd best guy, Kerry Rhodes, is 11 entire plays behind the line of scrimmage behind Wilson. That's how dominating he is. He could easily be higher if not for the fact that his Zone Coverage isn't very strong.
5. O.J. Atogwe, Rams

Games played: 16 Tackles: 85
Interceptions: 5 Touchdowns: 1
Analysis: Shocked to see him this high? You shouldn't be. He's this good. He's improved as a tackler each of the past two seasons.
5. Chris Hope, Titans
Comment: Hope is a guy who usually doesn't get the love he should, but he's one hell of a safety. In Pittsburgh, he allowed Troy Polamalu to flourish in the box. In Tennessee, he's the guy in the box now. Hope has played both safety positions at a high level. He is one of the hardest hitting safeties I have ever seen. He has some of the best range in Zone Coverage, and maneuvers well in the box. He's just not incredibly flashy.
6. Michael Griffin, Titans

Games played: 16 Tackles: 75
Interceptions: 7 Touchdowns: 1
Analysis: In his second season, he showed why he was a first-round pick. He's a good tackler and has good range.
6. Michael Griffin, Titans
Comment: Griffin was part of a draft class that included Tanard Jackson, LaRon Landry and Reggie Nelson. These players will look inferior to Griffin if he continues to play like this. Griffin has excellent range in both Zone and Man Coverage and could become the league's premier free safety for years if he tackles better and shed blocks better when he comes into the box.
7. Quintin Mikell, Eagles

Games played: 16 Tackles: 93
Interceptions: 3 Touchdowns: 0
Analysis: He outplayed Brian Dawkins last season, but nobody noticed. They will now that Dawkins is gone.
7. Yeremiah Bell, Dolphins
Comment: If Bob Sanders gets credit for revolutionizing the Colts' rush defense, then Bell should get the same credit for the Dolphins. In 2005, Bell was primarily a special teamer and Miami was ranked No. 17 against the run. The following year, he became the starter after five games and the Dolphins shot up to No. 8.
8. LaRon Landry, Redskins

Games played: 16 Tackles: 65
Interceptions: 2 Touchdowns: 0
Analysis: Coming into his third season he has proved to be a better cover player than expected. He's on the verge of really breaking out.
8. Nick Collins, Packers
Comment: Collins is a guy that impressed many at the Combine and showed off his blazing 40 time, but he didn't do much until last year. While a lot of guys take advantage of overthrown and underthrown passes, Collins was actually undercutting well thrown passes and then housing them last season. It looks as if he finally understands coverage responsibilities and he's working with a good secondary. What's not to like?
9. Nick Collins, Packers

Games played: 16 Tackles: 72
Interceptions: 7 Touchdowns: 3
Analysis: He's a good cover safety, which is a must in this era, but he isn't a great tackler. He needs to tackle better.
9. Bob Sanders, Colts
Comment: Sanders is one strong player in the box, but not better than Bell, Dawkins, Polamalu, Rhodes or Wilson. Being the 6th best in the box as a strong safety isn't bad. There's no denying that Sanders also has a Dawkins like mentality and wants to be a leader. Sanders knows how to track down the ball carrier. He could be higher on the list if he could stay healthy and was more of a playmaker.
10. Donte Whitner, Bills

Games played: 13 Tackles: 61
Interceptions: 0 Touchdowns: 0
Analysis: He's a rangy safety who provides a leadership to the back four. He has a chance, if he tackles better, to be an elite safety.
10. Brian Dawkins, Broncos
Comment: If B-Dawk hadn't gone to Denver this year he wouldn't be on this list. Denver has shown an ability to take old "over-the-top" safeties and revitalize them by placing them in the box. Jim Johnson utilized a three-safety set, which placed Dawkins in the box. When doing so, Dawkins had three sacks, seven stuffs and six forced fumbles. He can play this way at a high level. Just don't ask him to drop 10+ yards. John Lynch did well in Denver his last three years doing this.