Blake’s Preseason NFL Safety Rankings

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The NFL is filled with hard hitting and intelligent safeties, and most of them are usually the best player on their team’s defense. These leaders’ success directly correlates to the success of the overall defense, as per Pro Football Reference. Here’s a preview of the best safeties in the league ahead of the 2021-22 season.

16. Adrian Amos (GB)

15. Micah Hyde (BUF)

14. Kevin Byard (TEN)

13. Tyrann Mathieu (KC)

12. Jamal Adams (SEA)

11. Harrison Smith (MIN)

Nos. 11-16 round out the top half of safeties in the league, but some of these guys are definitely interchangeable. Some of these guys are either veterans who I see declining or younger guys who are ascending as far as talent. For example, Harrison Smith (who missed the Pro Bowl for the first time since 2014) is still at 11 now, but I believe that we could start to see some regression this year. Jamal Adams, however, put on an absolute show in Seattle, as he single handedly kept the Seahawks together on defense for stretches of the season, and he still has a high ceiling to reach. Another veteran, Tyrann Mathieu, had another solid season, even as his age begins to climb. He showed that he could still keep up with the rest of the league, which earns him a spot on the list.

10. Antoine Winfield Jr. (TB)

9. Jessie Bates III (CIN)

8. Budda Baker (ARI)

7. Chuck Clark (BAL)

6. Jordan Poyer (BUF)

Nos. 6-10 are filled with more young guys whose defenses have used them more often, which gave them a chance to fly around and make plays on the field. Jordan Poyer had some of the best stats among all safeties (and he also gets to share the list with a teammate as well), which is why we should see increased production from him. Budda Baker posted a career-high coverage grade from PFF (75.3) and lead all safeties in solo tackles, so I definitely expect him to be higher on this list after the season. A second-round pick in last year’s draft, Antoine Winfield Jr. had an impressive rookie campaign that he will be looking to grow on, which will improve his position in the rankings next year.

5. Marcus Williams (NO)

4. Minkah Fitzpatrick (PIT)

3. Justin Simmons (DEN)

2. Derwin James (LAC)

1. John Johnson III (CLE)

There may be some debate about where you could move these guys, but they will all be in the top five in almost any list. John Johnson III was on the best defense in the league last season (with the LA Rams), and he will be looking to improve a Cleveland defense that was in the lower half last year. Simmons and Fitzpatrick are both focal points in their teams’ secondary, and both should be able to produce productive seasons yet again. The biggest question for the Los Angeles Chargers this season will be: Can Derwin James stay healthy? If so, I think he will be the number one safety on this list next year. He has shown flickers of his potential during his rookie season, and fans and coaches alike have been itching to see it all again in his return to the gridiron.

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