Analysis  

 

Broncos, Seahawks, Giants rank among NFL's best secondaries

Print

After selecting his top-five cornerback tandems earlier this offseason, NFL.com analyst and former Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor takes a look at the entire secondary. Here are his top-five secondaries in the NFL heading into the 2017 season:

1) Denver Broncos

Key contributors: CB Aqib Talib, CB Chris Harris Jr., CB Bradley Roby, SS T.J. Ward, FS Darian Stewart.

When it comes to separating secondaries, it's all about the cornerbacks. And the No Fly Zone has the total package. This group has such depth at this position; consider that Bradley Roby, who is the Broncos' CB3, could be a starter for most other NFL teams. Last season in coverage, Aqib Talib allowed a completion rate of 53 percent to opposing quarterbacks, while Chris Harris Jr. allowed 63.3 percent and Roby 73.2. I can't say enough about this trio. Talib and Harris are two of the best in the league, while Roby is the Jenga piece. As great as Denver's cornerbacks are, the Broncos' safeties also fit the bill. T.J. Ward and Darian Stewart were instrumental in the team's Super Bowl 50 run and continue to be a presence.

2) Seattle Seahawks

Key contributors: CB Richard Sherman, CB DeShawn Shead, FS Earl Thomas, SS Kam Chancellor.

By now, you all know how I feel about Richard Sherman. He's the best corner in the game. The way he prepares is apparent, as he's the best at press coverage and disrupting timing between the quarterback and receiver. DeShawn Shead made big-time progress last season and should keep steadily improving opposite Sherman. Seattle's safety tandem -- Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas -- is the best in the biz. Bam-Bam Kam is the thumper, and Thomas is the traffic-control guy, seeing formations, personnel, schemes, etc., from a distance. Thomas doesn't get enough credit for everything he does, though I think people will start to see his value as he returns to the Legion of Boom following a broken tibia that landed him on injured reserve last December. I don't know about you, but I'm ready to see this guy back on the field.

3) New York Giants

Key contributors: CB Eli Apple, CB Janoris Jenkins, CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, FS Darian Thompson, SS Landon Collins.

I wasn't necessarily surprised that Janoris Jenkins had a great season (allowed 37 catches on 81 targets for 425 yards, two TDs, three INTs and a 54.8 passer rating against in coverage) in 2016. What did surprise me? The performance of rookie Eli Apple and how well Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie played in the slot. The Giants are coming into their own at the cornerback position, but I need more consistency. Landon Collins probably had one of the best seasons that we've seen from a safety in several years. He did it all: covered, blitzed, tackled. All the guy did was make plays.

4) Kansas City Chiefs

Key contributors: CB Marcus Peters, CB Phillip Gaines, FS Ron Parker, SS Eric Berry.

Marcus Peters is a young, premier corner who plays with a lot of confidence. I'll keep it real simple: Don't throw to his side, period. But don't be fooled, as Phillip Gaines is holding his own. Another major threat in this secondary is Eric Berry. He's one of the few safeties who can cover, hit and play free safety. I believe Berry and Ron Parker are going to have a relationship like my former teammates Ryan Clark and Troy Polamalu. The former Steelers reacted by way of body language. At times, they didn't have to say anything to each other, getting on the same page with nothing more than a look. The more Berry and Parker play together, the better this unit will be.

5) Atlanta Falcons

Key contributors: CB Desmond Trufant, CB Jalen Collins, CB Robert Alford, NB Brian Poole, NB Damontae Kazee, FS Keanu Neal, SS Ricardo Allen.

The Falcons showcased an up-and-coming young defense with loads of talent. They only added to that group this offseason, drafting cornerback Damontae Kazee. And after suffering a season-ending injury in November, Desmond Trufant returns as one of the best off coverage corners in the league. Robert Alford stepped up in a big way for the NFC champs with Trufant sidelined. I'm most excited to see how third-year pro Jalen Collins and Kazee fit into the mix. Kazee is one of my favorites and is going to be a sleeper in Year 1. These two are going to be fighting for a lot of time in the slot. Speaking of rookies, Keanu Neal had a helluva rookie season in 2016. He's an old-school safety who's going to be around for a long time.

Just missed the cut: Jacksonville Jaguars, Minnesota Vikings.

Follow Ike Taylor on Twitter @Ike_SwagginU.

Print

Headlines

The previous element was an advertisement.

NFL Shop