We’ve reached the finale, hopefully just in time for this work stoppage to end so that we can return to writing stuff that actually matters (if any of it actually matters). Here are the league’s top 10 safeties as of right now.
Quarterbacks (May 9)
Running backs (May 13)
Receivers (May 17)
Tight ends (June 1)
Offensive tackles (June 9)
Guards (June 14)
Centers (June 17)
Pass rushers (June 24)
Run stoppers (June 28)
Inside linebackers (June 30)
Cornerbacks (July 5)
1. Troy Polamalu, Pittsburgh Steelers
He’s flawed, but that’s part of his game. Polamalu takes too many chances, gets beat too often and sometimes hurts his team, but he’s also the NFL’s ultimate all-or-nothing playmaker. And there’s a chance that no defensive player impacts the scoreboard as much as this man.
2. Ed Reed, Baltimore Ravens
I actually prefer Reed to Polamalu, but injuries have slowed him in recent years. When he’s on the field, the 32-year-old is still the league’s premier ball hawk. Despite only playing in 10 games last year, Reed led the league with eight interceptions.
3. Nick Collins, Green Bay Packers
Without Collins, the Packers don’t win Super Bowl XLV. He’s been directly in the rear-view mirror of Polamalu and Reed for three years running, but he’s also significantly younger than both of those guys.
4. Eric Berry, Kansas City Chiefs
The superstar safety of the future didn’t miss a snap in his rookie season. Berry, who was drafted fifth overall last April, had two sacks, four picks and a touchdown at the age of 21. The future is massively bright.
5. Roman Harper, New Orleans Saints
Harper is unique in that he can rush the passer and make stops better than most of the guys on this list. He doesn’t get picks, but he’s still one of the most versatile defensive backs in the NFL.
6. Malcolm Jenkins, New Orleans Saints
He helped the Saints forget about the aging and injured Darren Sharper in 2010. The main reason the Saints lost to the Seahawks in the wild-card playoffs this past January? No Jenkins.
7. Quintin Mikell, Philadelphia Eagles
He’s more reliable than every other player on this list. No one flies under the radar as low as Mikell, and I have a feeling it has something to do with the fact that he doesn’t make SportsCenter. The eight-year veteran has never had a pick six, but he rarely gets beat in coverage and is one of the surest tacklers at the position.
8. Eric Weddle, San Diego Chargers
I don’t know why the Chargers might let a 26-year-old All-Pro safety leave via free agency, but Weddle will be a hot commodity on the open market. He’d be higher on this list if he could make more interceptions.
9. Michael Huff, Oakland Raiders
He’s a fantastic blitzer (four sacks in 2010), who’s also great in coverage (filled in for Nnamdi Asomugha at times last year). He also created six turnovers in his breakout season. I have no idea why the Raiders are taking a page from the Chargers’ book and ignoring a soon-to-be-free-agent safety just entering his prime.
10. Antrel Rolle, New York Giants
The numbers weren’t indicative of the impact he made in 2010. If the 28-year-old can become more consistent, he’ll climb this list in future seasons.