1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
SS: Mark Barron, Cody Grimm, Sean Baker
FS: Dashon Goldson, Ahmad Black, Keith Tandy, Nick Saenz
This group is easily the best in the NFC South. Although Mark Barron was a bit of a surprise pick at #7 overall in the 2012 Draft, he performed admirably at strong safety last season. His level of play should only continue to improve next season, especially with better cornerbacks on the roster. The Buccaneers also added free agent safety Dashon Goldson in free agency this offseason. Even if Goldson is 29 years old now, he is still capable of playing at a high level, and together with Barron, they should form one of the best safety duos in the NFL.
The Buccaneers also have good depth at safety, with Ahmad Black and Cody Grimm, who both have both started in the past. For the foreseeable future, this group will be #1 in the NFC South.
2. Atlanta Falcons
SS: William Moore, Shann Schillinger, Zeke Motta, Troy Sanders
FS: Thomas Decoud, Charles Mitchell, Kemal Ishmael
William Moore and Thomas Decoud are a solid tandem at safety for the Atlanta Falcons. Although I personally think that they’re both given more credit than they deserve, they are better than the Saints and Panthers starting duos at safety.
The Falcons are lacking depth at the position, but they did add rookie safety Zeke Motta in the NFL Draft this offseason. So for now, they’ll stay at the #2 spot in the division.
3. New Orleans Saints
SS: Kenny Vaccaro, Roman Harper, Isa Abdul-Quddus
FS: Malcolm Jenkins, Rafael Bush, Jim Leonhard, Jerico Nelson
The Saints could be in trouble if they ask too much from their safeties this season. Malcolm Jenkins has been a disappointment ever since he was drafted in the first round in 2009, as he’s never been able to put everything together on the field. At strong safety, there’s a possibility that rookie Kenny Vaccaro might end up starting week one. Although Vaccaro will likely be an upgrade over Roman Harper (who was terrible in 2012), the Saints lack of talent in their front seven and cornerbacks might exacerbate his typical rookie struggles.
This group doesn’t have great depth either, but for now, they are ranked higher than the Panthers because of the potential that Vaccaro has.
4. Carolina Panthers
SS: Mike Mitchell, DJ Campbell, Robert Lester
FS: Charles Godfrey, Haruki Nakamura, Colin Jones, Nick Hixon
The good news is that Charles Godfrey is moving back to his more natural position at free safety, where he has excelled in the past. The bad news is that the three players fighting for the strong safety spot are a former draft bust (Mike Mitchell), a seventh rounder from the 2012 Draft (D.J Campbell) and a UDFA from the 2013 Draft (Robert Lester). Scarily, from what we've heard so far, it seems like either one of the three has a good chance at winning the starting job.
Safety is a position the Panthers must address in the future, because as of right now, they have no long term answer at the position. This group is the worst in the NFC South, and possibly even in the entire NFL.
Agree? Disagree? Feel free to vote, and share your opinions in the comment section below.