Movie Quote of the Day:
“There seems to be no sign of intelligent life anywhere.”
– Buzz Lightyear, Toy Story (1995)
NFL analysts, experts, players, etc. have been releasing their own rankings for the top players in the NFL. The NFL Network just released their Top 100 that is voted on by the players. Also, Mike Miller at Bleacher Report has been coming out with his own rankings of the Top 1,000 players in the NFL.
I decided to create my own version of this, but I’m going to put it together by position (except punters and fullbacks because nobody cares about them) and it’ll only be 100 players. I’m not even sure I can name 1,000 people that I know in the real world let alone the NFL. I’m also going to add honorable mentions and what I like to call the “Rising Star” of each position. Another thing I added when creating these lists is that the players have to currently be on a team. No free agents.
My list for today involves strong safeties. Strong safeties differ from free safeties because they’re typically not known for their pass coverage ability. Strong safeties are bigger and much more physical than a free safety. They’re found closer to the line of scrimmage, whereas free safeties are found deeper in the defense. The job for a strong safety is mainly to help stop the run game, and help in pass coverage on passing downs. They could also be described as a quicker linebacker. Here’s my list:
Rising Star: Johnathan Cyprien, Jacksonville Jaguars
2014 stats: 114 total tackles and three pass deflections
Cyprien has been in the NFL for two seasons and has been under the radar amongst strong safeties. In his two seasons, he has 218 total tackles, nine pass deflections, one interception, and two forced fumbles. Cyprien isn’t known for his pass coverage, he’s known for his ability to stop opposing run games. I honestly believe that Cyprien could be the next Kam Chancellor.
Honorable Mention: Eric Berry, Kansas City Chiefs
2014 stats: 37 total tackles and two pass deflections
Berry has had his share of injuries that have caused him to miss playing time. Last year he suffered a different kind of injury. He missed over half of last season after being diagnosed with lymphoma. If it weren’t for that, he’d definitely be number two on my list. There is good news though, just a few days ago, Berry beat lymphoma and has been cleared to play by the NFL. Berry has 289 total tackles, 5.5 sacks, eight interceptions, and two forced fumbles in his career. He’s also a 3x Pro Bowler (2010, 2012, and 2013) and was named First-team All-Pro in 2013. I currently have a loved one suffering of lymphoma, so I’ll be openly cheering for Berry to have the best bounce back season a player could have.
Top 5 Strong Safeties:
5. Reshad Jones, Miami Dolphins
2014 stats: 80 total tackles, one sack, seven pass deflections, and three interceptions
Jones has been another under the radar player for Miami; it took him a few seasons to develop. Jones earned the starting strong safety job in 2012, and he’s emerged as a pretty good player. Jones hasn’t earned any honors so far in his career, but his stats could change your mind. Jones has 371 total tackles, 6.5 sacks, 26 pass deflections, 10 interceptions, and three forced fumbles in five seasons. Had Jones not been suspended for the first four games of last season, he probably would’ve had a Pro Bowl season.
4. T.J. Ward, Denver Broncos
2014 stats: 74 total tackles, two sacks, five pass deflections, and two interceptions
Ward signed with Denver last season after becoming a star in Cleveland. Like most strong safeties, Ward is known for his abilities against the run. He’s a 2x Pro Bowler (2013 and 2014) and Second-team All-Pro in 2013. The Pro Football Writers of America also named him on the 2010 All-Rookie team. Ward as 416 total tackles, 5.5 sacks, seven interceptions, and five forced fumbles in his career.
3. Antoine Bethea, San Francisco 49ers
2014 stats: 86 total tackles, one sack, 10 pass deflections, and four interceptions
Bethea signed with San Francisco last season to help replace Donte Whitner, who left for Cleveland. Bethea turned 31 a few days ago, but that’s not slowing down his production. He has 892 total tackles, 4.5 sacks, 18 interceptions, and six forced fumbles in his career. Bethea is a 3x Pro Bowler (2007, 2009, and 2014). He also earned Team MVP for the 49ers last season.
2. Donte Whitner, Cleveland Browns
2014 stats: 106 total tackles, four pass deflections, one interception, and two forced fumbles
There was a time when Whitner wanted to change his last name to Hitner because of how hard he hits players. He’s definitely a hitter. I’ll never forget the playoff game between the 49ers and the Packers a few years ago. Whitner was trying to make a play against Eddie Lacy and the viewers could tell he put everything he could into that hit, and Lacy just bounced off and ran for another 10 or so yards for a first down. Against any other running back, that might’ve been one of the biggest hits I’ve ever seen in football. Whitner likes to be physical in the run game. He has 775 total tackles, 1.5 sacks, 11 interceptions, and nine forced fumbles in his nine NFL seasons. He’s also a 3x Pro Bowler (2012-2014).
1. Kam Chancellor, Seattle Seahawks
2014 stats: 78 total tackles, six pass deflections, and one interception
Chancellor shouldn’t be classified as a strong safety. The dude is 6’3 235 pounds, he’s a linebacker and an absolute monster. I hate saying it because of two reasons: 1. He plays for Seattle and 2. He went to college at Virginia Tech. I’m resisting the urge to vomit as you’re reading this now.
Chancellor is the most complete strong safety in the NFL. He’s exceptional at both pass coverage and stopping the run. He has 440 total tackles, two sacks, eight interceptions, 30 pass deflections, and six forced fumbles in his NFL career. He is a 3x Pro Bowler (2011, 2013, and 2014) and also 2x Second-team All-Pro (2013 and 2014). Not just him, but all strong safeties get screwed out of First-team All-Pro honors because the All-Pro team has safeties as one big category. So, most of the time, those honors go to free safeties. Chancellor’s the best strong safety in the NFL, I think it would be unanimous if you put it to a vote.
All stats from: http://www.nfl.com/stats/player
Monday: Running Backs
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