With the NFL becoming more and more pass-dominant each year, players in the secondary like safeties are quickly emerging as some of the most important players on the defensive end. With them being the last line of defense between the offense and the end zone, it is essential that each team has high-caliber players at this position. Heading into the 2023 season, there are three safeties that have established themselves as the best in the league.
Derwin James is the best safety in football heading into the 2023 season. He is arguably the most versatile player at his position, and his consistency made him a clear pick for the top spot. James excels in both man and zone coverage, and last season he led all safeties in yards allowed per reception at only seven yards.
However, he does much more than just thrive in coverage. James also serves as a pass rusher at times for the Los Angeles Chargers. Next season, with Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack back fully healthy, they could be one of the most feared pass-rushing trios in the league.
Last season, he recorded two interceptions, six passes defended, two forced fumbles, five tackles for loss, four sacks, 115 tackles, and five QB hits.
Minka Fitzpatrick is the highest-paid safety in the league for a reason. He easily could have taken the top spot, however, the Pittsburgh Steelers do not utilize him as a pass rusher nearly as much as James.
Despite this, Fitzpatrick is an excellent defender against the run, something that is rare at the safety position. Last season, he thrived in coverage and was a ball hawk recording six interceptions. He served as an elite last line of defense for a very talented Steelers defensive unit.
Tyrann Mathieu has been amongst the most talented safeties in the league for a considerable amount of time. Despite last season being his 10th year in the league, he would play the most defensive snaps in his career in 2022. Although he hit 30 years old last season, Mathieu proved that he still has a lot in the tank and performed at an elite level.
He finished the season recording three interceptions, eight passes defended, 91 tackles, three tackles for loss, and one QB hit.
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