Best Safeties Ever Hierarchy
I ranked Ronnie Lott as the best safety ever, but I was torn on whether to include both Ed Reed and Troy Polamalu as well. You can easily make a case for the latter, but ultimately my decision came down to the tier 2 players all playing within the same era. Never were they they undisputed best safety of their era, but you can’t say the same for Ronnie Lott. He was far and away the best of his era and arguably the best all-around defensive player ever. He could have been one of the best cornerbacks ever had he stayed at the position instead of move to safety.
From left to right: Ed Reed, Brian Dawkins and Troy Polamalu.
Much like my argument for tier 1, I almost put Ed Reed and Troy Polamalu on their own in tier 1. Tier 3 did not make sense for Brian Dawkins as he played in the same era as Reed and Polamalu and had seasons where he was the best out of the trio. While I don’t think he was as good as the above two, I think he has every right to be in the same tier. The NFL is completely different today than the eras in which the tier 3 players were dropping 60+ interceptions.
From left to right: Paul Krause, Emlen Tunnell, Ken Houston
Paul Krause and Emlen Tunnell are both 1 and 2 in all-time interceptions. It was a completely different time as QBs could be successful with a 50% completion percentage when guys like Brees throw for 70% or more at will today. Both of these guys played like center fielders and dominated in a run first era in which no QB could live up to efficiency standards today.
From left to right: Steve Atwater, Kenny Easley, John Lynch and Larry Wilson.
Each of these players earned a reputation for being some of the hardest hitters in the NFL. From the man who practically invented the safety blitz in Larry Wilson to a linebacker playing safety in Steve Atwater. Each were all-around safeties with a knack for getting physical.
When people talk about the best safety in Seahawks history, the Legion of Boom raises recency bias. There is no doubt in my mind that Kenny Easley was the best and would be even higher on this list had it not been for injury.
From left to right: Kam Chancellor, Jack Tatum, Earl Thomas, Willie Wood, Sean Taylor, John Christiansen.
Tier 5 always gives me a hard time.
You look at the small sample size of Sean Taylor and it’s clear he could have been the best ever. And then he was killed.
There are also legends like Jack Tayum, Willie Wood and John Christiansen who earned their stripes, but played in completely different eras.
All-in-all there are a few players that I could move up a tier. It’s also plausible to add players entirely who didn’t make the cut.
All-Time Hierarchy Lists:
Best Running Backs Ever Hierarchy
Best Quarterbacks Ever Hierarchy
Best Wide Receivers Ever Hierarcy
2020 Hierarchy Lists:
Best Wide Receivers 2020 Hierarchy