Rating NFL’s prime 10 safeties of 2022: Kevin Byard, Derwin James headline gifted defensive backs

We’re firmly within the useless zone of the NFL calendar, so what higher technique to cross the time earlier than the beginning of coaching camp than combing via varied positions and rolling out a prime 10 checklist? That is been the duty right here at CBS Sports activities over the previous few days / weeks and as we transfer from the offensive facet of the ball to the defensive facet, we’ll particularly be wanting on the security place and rating our prime gamers from that place group heading into the 2022 season.

As for a way we have decided this checklist, we sifted via varied classes together with primary stats, superior analytics like Professional Soccer Focus’ protection grades, together with Professional Soccer References’s Approximate Worth. As a result of the security place is a little more various than some others with these defensive backs lining up in several areas of the sector in some instances, we additionally tried to incorporate various kinds of safeties all through this checklist to have every enjoying fashion represented.

With all that out of the way in which, let’s leap in.

Honorable mentions: Micah Hyde, Quandre Diggs, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Jeremy Chinn, Jayron Kearse, Jevon Holland, Jamal Adams, Harrison Smith, Marcus Maye, Jimmie Ward

Amos continues to be one of many extra underrated safeties within the NFL. Whereas he doesn’t have many spotlight performs on his résumé, he’s a sound defensive again that’s seemingly all the time within the correct place making him one of many extra well-rounded gamers on this checklist. Final yr, he lined up within the field on 317 snaps, had 573 snaps at free security, and 141 within the slot, highlighting his versatility. He is additionally been Professional Soccer Focus’ highest-graded security over the past two seasons. In 2021, opponents caught simply 58.2% of their targets in opposition to Amos (career-low). That mentioned, the six touchdowns allowed have been lower than perfect. One final feather to place in Amos’ hat is his sturdiness. He began in each regular-season sport for the Packers courting again to 2018 and has performed at the very least 97% of the defensive snaps over that stretch.

headshot image

Be happy to swap in Micah Hyde in right here if you would like as he and Poyer make up arguably the perfect security duo within the NFL and I would not combat you too arduous when you felt one was higher than the opposite. With Poyer touchdown first-team All-Professional honors final season and simply edging out Hyde in Approximate Worth, nevertheless, that is the way in which I’m leaning. Poyer was tied for first amongst safeties in AV final season and was a part of a Buffalo secondary that ranked No. 1 within the NFL in DVOA even with out star nook Tre’Davious White for the again half of the yr. Amongst safeties that performed at the very least 50% of the defensive snaps, Poyer earned the second-best protection grade and allowed a reception fee of simply 48.1%. In 16 video games performed throughout final season, he matched a career-high 5 interceptions and had a career-best three sacks.

headshot image

It’s an finish of an period with Tyrann Mathieu and the Chiefs breaking ties this offseason. Whereas he’ll now not be lurking within the KC secondary, New Orleans is getting one heck of a flexible weapon. The Saints will have the ability to line Mathieu up nevertheless they see match. He primarily lined up as a field security (438 snaps) however had a wholesome quantity of labor as a free security (280 snaps) and within the slot (206). His Approximate Worth ranked eighth within the league final yr amongst safeties and helped him to a second consecutive Professional Bowl nod. At the same time as he heads dwelling to New Orleans and away from the Chiefs, Mathieu ought to nonetheless be among the finest defensive playmakers that the NFL has to supply.

headshot image

Antoine Winfield Jr. wasted no time making a reputation for himself as among the finest younger safeties within the league. He helped the Bucs to a Tremendous Bowl title his rookie yr and adopted that up with a protection grade by PFF that ranked fifth amongst eligible safeties. The 23-year-old has great imaginative and prescient in protection and allowed a passer ranking of simply 63.9 final season. He additionally was not liable for a single landing allowed by the Bucs final season. In contrast to another safeties on this checklist, Winfield primarily lurks as a free security and doesn’t migrate too typically into the slot or line up within the field. Nonetheless, there is not any denying that he is one of many premier cross defenders at his place. What’s even crazier is that he is nearly to enter his third season within the NFL.

headshot image

The sturdy security is one thing of a dying breed with linebackers turning into extra versatile, however Budda Baker is a defensive again that strikes concern into ball carriers. Over his five-year profession, PFF has him tallying 160 stops (tackles that end in a failure by the offense), and is coming off one other All-Professional caliber season in 2021. In 17 video games for the Cardinals, he totaled 98 tackles and two sacks. Whereas he is largely recognized for being one of many extra bodily safeties within the sport and dominant in opposition to the run, he allowed a 78.6 passer ranking in protection final season (career-high). Baker additionally has proven loads of versatility enjoying as a free security, lining up within the field, in addition to within the slot.

headshot image

Williams simply inked a five-year, $ 70 million take care of the Baltimore Ravens this offseason. That deal alone ought to inform you what sort of participant we’re taking a look at right here. The 25-year-old is among the extra constant and elite gamers at his place basically since he is come into the league. He was the seventh-highest graded participant in protection final season amongst eligible safeties, per PFF. Williams additionally allowed a passer ranking of simply 54.2 in 16 video games performed for the Saints in 2021. In contrast to most of those safeties, Williams basically performs solely as a free security, logging 922 snaps behind New Orleans’ secondary final season. Even with out the flexibility, he is somebody that raises the ceiling to your protection when he is within the outfield.

headshot image

Whereas Denver’s secondary wasn’t precisely elite in 2021 (twentieth in opposition to the cross in DVOA), Simmons continued to play at a excessive degree. He was tied for second amongst safeties in Approximate Worth and his 59.4 passer ranking allowed was the eighth-lowest amongst eligible safeties final yr. Simmons ’manufacturing has come down statistically from his profession yr in 2019, however he’s been far more constant over these final three seasons in comparison with the primary half of his six-year NFL profession. The 28-year-old has additionally moved round inside Denver’s protection over time and noticed 310 snaps as a field security in 2021, however largely has labored on the again finish of the secondary, seeing 639 snaps at free security. With the Broncos offense set to be a lot improved this yr with Russell Wilson on the helm, Simmons – together with the remainder of the Denver D – might be in additional advantageous positions this coming season.

headshot image

Bates struggled all through the course of the common season however appeared extra just like the elite security we’ve grown accustomed to within the postseason because the Bengals made their march to a Tremendous Bowl look. Throughout that playoff run, Bates totaled two interceptions, allowed opposing quarterbacks to mix for a 35.6 passer ranking, and opposing receivers hauled in simply 36.4% of their targets in opposition to him. That mirrors the second-team All-Professional play we noticed in 2020, so we cannot hammer Bates down an excessive amount of right here. He ought to nonetheless be thought-about among the many prime safeties that the NFL has to supply. The most important query surrounding him is admittedly extra about his contract standing and his future in Cincinnati.

headshot image

When wholesome, Derwin James is nearly as good as they arrive on the security spot. After being restricted to only 5 video games from 2019 to 2020, the 25-year-old performed 15 video games for the Chargers in 2021 and lit it up. Just like what we noticed from him throughout his rookie season in 2018, James earned first-team All-Professional honors and was an anchor for Los Angeles’ protection. He has proven the power to work all around the discipline and canopy all positions (operating backs, tight ends, and receivers) to an elite diploma. He is unfold round fairly evenly within the field (361 snaps), slot (224), and as a standard free security (326). Regardless of the place LA determined to line him up, James was dominant. He allowed a 71.9 passer ranking general however was even higher when protecting the slot, permitting a 68.4 passer ranking (fifth-best amongst eligible safeties). No matter Brandon Staley must be achieved within the secondary, James can’t simply do it however arguably do it higher than anybody within the league. The most important factor stopping him from being the consensus greatest security within the NFL is well being.

headshot image

Protection is the secret within the NFL and you will have to look arduous to discover a security who is healthier at defending the cross than Byard. The Titans defensive again was the highest-graded security in protection final season by PFF and was tied for No. 1 within the NFL in Approximate Worth amongst gamers at his place. Opposing pass-catchers hauled in simply 63.5% of their targets in opposition to Byard and he piled up the stat sheet, totaling 5 interceptions, 13 cross breakups, 88 tackles, and two compelled fumbles. On prime of his potential in opposition to the cross, the 2021 first-team All-Professional is a positive tackler, solely lacking 2.2% of his sort out makes an attempt final season. Byard has additionally been versatile all through his profession and noticed loads of motion within the field (331 snaps) final season alongside together with his extra acquainted spot manning the outfield because the free security (603 snaps). He additionally logged 161 snaps within the slot. Whereas he is all the time been among the many elite safeties within the NFL, Tennessee lastly establishing some semblance of a cross rush in 2021 allowed Byard to flourish.

Leave a Reply