In the 2014 edition of Athlon Sports’ Pro Football preview, we called on Ourlads Scouting Services to rank the NFL’s best at every position on the field. When it comes to determining who is the best quarterback, running back, wide receiver, linebacker, cornerback, etc., who better to make that determination than a company that’s been in the gridiron talent evaluation business for nearly three decades?
When it comes to the current NFL, bigger is better in the secondary. Just ask Seattle, as the defending Super Bowl champions claim not only the best cornerback in the league (Richard Sherman), but the best safety (Earl Thomas) too. Combined with Ourlads’ No. 10 safety Kam Chancellor and No. 13 cornerback Byron Maxwell, and it’s pretty clear to see why the Seahawks’ defensive backfield is considered the best in the league.
With three of the four defenders taller than six foot and all but one weighing in at more than 200 pounds, this foursome has earned their “Legion of Boom” moniker for the heavy hits they deliver on the field. It also certainly doesn’t hurt to have a mouthpiece like Sherman to represent them off of it either.
Rankings courtesy of Ourlads Scouting Services
2014 NFL Player Rankings: Cornerbacks
1. Richard Sherman, Seattle
No one has more than the 20 interceptions he has collected since 2011. A smart and aggressive playmaker who is highly competitive. Good hands and hip flexibility. Uses height (6'3") and length to his advantage.
2. Darrelle Revis, New England
Was the Patriots’ target after Aqib Talib defected to Denver. New England is gambling that the league’s most dominant corner before his knee injury will return to his elite form.
3. Patrick Peterson, Arizona
Making a run as the NFL’s top corner. Big, fast, athletic, flexible, strong, intelligent, confident and competitive. Outstanding eye-hand coordination.
4. Vontae Davis, Indianapolis
Has had his ups and downs over his career, but was up in 2013. As the mainstay corner, he shows outstanding athletic ability. Reacts quickly on run support and forces the action quickly.
5. Aqib Talib, Denver
Staying on the field has been a bit of an issue in recent seasons, but when he’s out there, Taiib is one of the best cover corners in the league. There’s a reason the Broncos gave Talib $26 million in guaranteed money in his six-year contract and it just wasn’t to sign him away from rival New England.
6. Tyrann Mathieu, Arizona
Is listed at corner, but played free safety and lined up in the nickel packages as a corner. His athleticism gives the Cardinals’ secondary flexibility.
7. Desmond Trufant, Atlanta
Had a solid rookie season and demonstrated good short-area quickness, competitiveness and the ability to mirror receivers’ cuts. Confident and focused in his play.
8. Chris Harris, Denver
A playmaker who has few mental and physical errors. Good open-field wrap-up tackler. Rarely gives up run-after-catch yards.
9. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, NY Giants
Signed during free agency. After six years in the league, the Giants are hoping that the best is yet to come. A fluid and smooth athlete with good hands and quick feet.
10. Brent Grimes, Miami
Played big in 2013 despite coming off a torn Achilles tendon. He was rewarded with a long term deal. A consistent competitor who makes plays on the ball. Aggressive and smart in his play.
11. Alterraun Verner, Tampa Bay
12. Jason McCourty, Tennessee
13. Byron Maxwell, Seattle
14. Captain Munnerlyn, Minnesota
15. Brandon Boykin, Philadelphia
16. Tramaine Brock, San Francisco
17. Leodis McKelvin, Buffalo
18. Joe Haden, Cleveland
19. Keenan Lewis, New Orleans
20. Alan Ball, Jacksonville
21. William Gay, Pittsburgh
22. Lardarius Webb, Baltimore
23. Johnathan Joseph, Houston
24. Prince Amukamara, NY Giants
25. Drayton Florence, Free agent
26. Rashean Mathis, Detroit
27. Nickell Robey, Buffalo
28. Corey Graham, Buffalo
29. Walter Thurmond, NY Giants
30. Orlando Scandrick, Dallas
2014 NFL Player Rankings: Safeties
1. Earl Thomas, Seattle
The best free safety in the league and a defensive leader. A safety with corner skills. Has an inside feel for secondary play. Competitive and aggressive. Can force the run coming downhill or play the ball deep down the field.
2. Eric Weddle, San Diego
An instinctive safety with range and good ball skills. An intense and aggressive playmaker who makes plays when tight on a receiver. Has been highly productive over his career.
3. Devin McCourty, New England
Continues his renaissance at safety since moving from corner a few years ago. A good athlete with range and finishing speed. Drives quickly on the ball and can make a big hit or slap the ball away.
4. Jairus Byrd, New Orleans
A Pro Bowl-caliber safety with corner skills. Athletic and productive. May be the most instinctive safety in the league. Sudden to read and react. Will make all the calls in Rob Ryan’s defense.
5. Donte Whitner, Cleveland
One of the NFL’s most impactful hitters and instinctive players. Productive and active. Good anticipation. An intense competitor who can reroute receivers.
6. Eric Berry, Kansas City
Is a leader in the secondary and a Pro Bowl player at strong safety. An intelligent and instinctive player who has the awareness to recognize and quickly analyze offensive set tendencies.
7. Troy Polamalu, Pittsburgh
Plays at an elite level when he’s on the field. He is fighting off age and time to continue to be one of the NFL’s dynamic playmakers. Intense and explosive.
8. T.J. Ward, Denver
Is a consistent tackler who is a hard hitter and has improved his overall pass-coverage skills. A competitor with good body control. Takes good support and pursuit angles.
9. Will Hill, NY Giants
When on the field he has all the tools and play of a Pro Bowl safety, but he is now facing his third suspension in three years.
10. Kam Chancellor, Seattle
One of the largest safeties in the league and has had several splash-type collisions over his career. His coverage skills have gotten better each year he has been in the league.
11. Kenny Vaccaro, New Orleans
12. Antrel Rolle, NY Giants
13. Eric Reid, San Francisco
14. Michael Griffin, Tennessee
15. Chris Clemons, Houston
16. Glover Quin, Detroit
17. James Ihedigbo, Detroit
18. Reggie Nelson, Cincinnati
19. Bernard Pollard, Tennessee
20. Rafael Bush, New Orleans
21. Marcus Gilchrist, San Diego
22. Aaron Williams, Buffalo
23. George Iloka, Cincinnati
24. Jamarca Sanford, Minnesota
25. Michael Mitchell, Pittsburgh
26. Robert Lester, Carolina
27. Reshad Jones, Miami
28. George Wilson, Tennessee
29. Rashad Johnson, Arizona
30. Charles Woodson, Oakland