There were many great safeties this decade. You had safeties like Ed Reed who could make the interceptions. You had those like Troy Polamalu, Bob Sanders, and Adrian Wilson that were awesome tacklers. Then you has some like the late Sean taylor who were great at both.
I will make a fair and unbiased assessment of each player. The teams they play on will not affect my decision. So without further ado here we go.
5. BOB SANDERS Bob Sanders is an excellent SS that plays for the Colts. His 6 years in the league have given him 290 tackles, 3.5 sacks 13 PD's, 6 interceptions, and 2 forced fumbles.
Now you must be saying those aren't great stats. But Bob Sanders has a problem staying healthy. He plays an average of 8 games a year.
Regardless of that he's still a major force in the run game and is one of the best tacklers in the league. He's consistent and it's obvious that his D misses him. Sanders is just one of those players that makes the most of every opportunity.
At age 28, Sanders is entering his prime. If he can stay healthy, I predict a very new and impressive Bob Sanders for the next few years.
That is pretty good considering he has played most of his games every season. But it's not just the stats that make him great, it's his playmaking abilities.
Not only is this guy a beast in run support, he's also great at picking off the ball. Everytime he touches it he gets decent return yardage. So far he's returned 2 for TD's.
Dawkins has a great instinct for the ball and is a sure tackler. You don't see him miss many tackles.
But 14 seasons take a toll on you. I expect maybe 1-2 years for Dawkins in the league. But when he does retire, he can look back on his career and smile.
3. ADRIAN WILSON Coming up at number 3 is Cardinals SS Adrian Wilson. It took me awhile to decide between Dawkins and Wilson at number 3, but I eventually chose Wilson.
9 years in the league have given him 686 tackles, 20.5 sacks, 59 PD's, 23 interceptions, and 12 forced fumbles.
OMG! This guy is an animal. 20.5 sacks. Remember this is a safety. Safeties don't rush the QB often but to be a safety and have 20.5 sacks is truly amazing.
Wilson is argubably the toughest safety currently in the league right now. He's a player that is not afraid to hit you. His 686 tackles should back that up.
He's also argubably the best safety to play the run today. RB's get afraid when they see him coming. Not only that, Wilson is very fond of stripping the ball from other players. 12 forced fumbles aren't anything to laugh at you know.
Now just because he's great at the run doesn't mean he's a joke against the pass. He is a great route reader and will jump in front of a receiver to make a pick. Once he picks it off, he's hard to bring down. So far he's taken back 2.
Wilson has a good 5-6 years left in the league barring any serious injury. I truly expect him to keep doing what he's been doing and that's being great.
2. ED REED I know Raven fans are going to kill me for not putting Reed at number one. Trust me it wasn't an easy decision to make, but in the end I went with who I thought was truly better. But more on that later.
After 8 seasons Reed has 458 tackles, 5 sacks, 1 safety, 70 Pd's, 46 interceptions, and 9 forced fumbles.
I'm going to tell you to have 46 picks in 8 years is truly amazing. Also consider that 6 of those have been returned for TD's. Outstanding.
There is no safety in the NFL today who can play the pass better than Ed Reed. Not even Troy Polamalu. Reed is the ultimate ballhawk. Anything thrown his way is intercepted.
Not only is it picked off, he's a very dangerous threat to take it back to the house everytime. He just has that ability to make people miss when he has the ball. Did I mention he was FS?
Reed also has some experience at SS. For his first 3 years he played SS which explains his sacks and high tackle count.
Reed has definitely had a Hall of Fame career. Sadly, due to neck injuries, he is contemplating retirement. I don't want to see him go but if he does, he will be remembered as one of the greatest safeties to bless this league.
1. TROY POLAMALU Before you start saying that the only reason why I picked Polamalu for number 1 is because he's a Steeler, let me tell you something. This was a hard choice to make. Ed Reed could've easily been number 1. But I truly, honestly, believe Troy Polamalu is the better of the 2.
After 7 seasons Polamalu has 452 tackles, 7 sacks, 60 PD's, 20 interceptions, and 7 forced fumbles.
Pretty good stats from a kid from USC. But stats won't tell you all of his story.
Though labeled SS, Polamalu has been seen lining up at FS more often over the last year or two hence his rise in picks. He's proven he can be an excellent FS as well if given the chance.
But what I think makes him so great is his unpredictability. You never know what he'll do. He might blitz, delay blitz fake blitz than run back to his assignment as soon as the ball is snapped.
An interesting fact is that he's given so much free reign from Dick LeBeau. I have never seen a player have that much freedom on a defense before. But Polamalu is that good.
Not only that his closing speed is ridiculous. He has broken up several plays in the backfield during his career. He's just a guy that has to be accounted for on each player. Let him out your sight for an instance before the snap and the result is usually a broken play or pick.
He's also the leader of the Steelers D. His teammates have said that merely his presence makes them stronger, better, and all round better players just knowing he's their to have your back. A good percentage of the defensive playbook is centered around him.
Polamalu is entering his prime so I expect a good 7-8 years out of him. But when he does hang up his pads, he will be considered among the greatest safeties to ever play the game.
Well this concludes my Top 5 safeties of the decade. Stay tuned for more Top 5's from me. Below you will find a Honorable Mentions list for those who didn't quite make the list. If you feel I'm missing someone, let me know.
HONORABLE MENTIONS Darren Sharper, Ryan Clark, Kerry Rhodes, and Sean Taylor.(RIP)