When you think of a strong safety you might think of a punisher. Someone who sits back in the secondary and when the ball is revealed he crashes through the ball carrier like a Mack truck. And while that is part of what a strong safety does, it's not quite all of it.
We've set out to find the best strong safeties in the NFL, based on how well they tackle, stop the run, cover deep and come up to take on blockers.
To find out who's best, we've determined what makes up a great strong safety and how well each 2011 starter represents those traits. The quest comes as part of the B/R NFL 1,000. The new series offers an in-depth look at every position in the NFL, breaking down players' skills in a way never before seen on the Internet.
B/R 1,000 rankings don't assess who had the best year, or even who has the most potential. Rather, players—in this case, strong safeties—are judged on their current skills and mechanics, based solely on film study of the 2011 NFL preseason and regular season.
After hours spent scouting every starter and potential starter, the top 32 strong safeties have been scored on 10 criteria (more on the criteria here). In the slides that follow, we'll explain each player's strengths and weaknesses as the final ranking is revealed.
Note: Some players lined up at both free and strong safety during the 2011 season. Players were ranked at the position they played most, according to game tracking done by our friends at ProFootballFocus.com.