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2016 NFL Player Rankings: Defensive Backs

Richard Sherman

Richard Sherman

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With NFL offenses tilting more and more towards throwing the ball rather than running it that puts even more emphasis on the strength of a team’s secondary. Look no further than the success of Seattle’s “Legion of Boom,” the Seahawks’ vaunted secondary that helped Pete Carroll’s team play in back-to-back Super Bowls.

In fact, Seattle boasts the top cornerback and safety in the NFL, according to Athlon Sports' defensive back rankings, which were done in conjunction with Dan Shonka of Ourlads' NFL Scouting Services and appear in the 2016 NFL Preview magazine. Defending Super Bowl champion Denver also is well represented with both starting cornerbacks (Chris Harris Jr., Aqib Talib) and safety T.J. Ward in the top 10.

Rankings courtesy of Ourlads' NFL Scouting Services, which has been in the football talent evaluation business for more than three decades.

2016 NFL Positional Rankings: Top 50 I QB I RB I WR I TE I OL I DL I LB I DB

2016 NFL Cornerback Rankings

1. Richard Sherman, Seattle

Was voted second-team All-Pro in 2015. He’s smart, quick and reactive. Athletic and competitive in his play.

2. Patrick Peterson, Arizona

A big and physical corner who was voted to his fifth straight Pro Bowl. The durable athlete has not missed a start since being drafted in 2011.

3. Josh Norman, Washington

The first-team All-Pro corner signed with the Redskins after Carolina released him from the franchise tag. The competitive corner totaled 56 tackles and defended 19 passes.

4. Chris Harris Jr., Denver

Played in 79 regular-season games and started 63 times in his first five season with the Broncos. He had 12 interceptions in that span. Second-team All-Pro in 2015.

5. Delvin Breaux, New Orleans

Suffered a serious neck injury and did not play football in college. Signed as an undrafted free agent with the Saints and started all 16 games in 2015. One of league’s emerging stars.

6. Jason Verrett, San Diego     

The undersized but ultra-competitive corner held All-Pro Antonio Brown to three catches and 45 yards in their head-to-head matchup. A Pro Bowl defender.

7. Desmond Trufant, Atlanta

Has not missed a start in his three years with the Falcons. He has 173 tackles and six interceptions in his career.

8. Stephon Gilmore, Buffalo

The smooth and athletic corner has 59 passes defended over four years. He totaled 36 tackles in 12 games last season.

9. Aqib Talib, Denver

Posted the most interceptions (30) in the NFL among active cornerbacks since he entered the league in 2008. One of three corners selected to the Pro Bowl the last three seasons.

10. Vontae Davis, Indianapolis

Defended 16 passes in 2015 and picked off four passes in an injury-plagued year. He worked through foot, hamstring and ankle injuries, as well as a concussion.

11. Sean Smith, Oakland

12. David Amerson, Oakland

13. Marcus Peters, Kansas City

14. Darrelle Revis, New York Jets 

15. Malcolm Butler, New England

16. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, New York Giants

17. Darius Slay, Detroit

18. Trumaine Johnson, Los Angeles

19. Adam Jones, Cincinnati

20. Ronald Darby, Buffalo

21. Logan Ryan, New England
22. Joe Haden, Cleveland

23. Janoris Jenkins, New York Giants

24. Sam Shields, Green Bay

25. Bashaud Breeland, Washington

26. Johnathan Joseph, Houston

27. Casey Hayward, San Diego

28. Tramaine Brock, San Francisco

29. Robert Alford, Atlanta

30. Kyle Fuller, Chicago

2016 NFL Safety Rankings

1. Earl Thomas, Seattle

Since entering the NFL, Thomas has been one of the most dominant safeties in the league and leader of the Legion of Boom. An intense, focused and physical player.

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2. Malcolm Jenkins, Philadelphia

A playmaker who earned his first trip to the Pro Bowl in 2015. He posted career and team highs with 109 tackles, three forced fumbles and 10 passes defended.

3. Eric Berry, Kansas City

Has been elected to four Pro Bowls and was a first-team All-Pro pick in 2015 in his first year back after overcoming cancer.

4. Harrison Smith, Minnesota

Has returned a Viking-record four interceptions for touchdowns in his career. Totaled 66 tackles in 2015.

5. Reshad Jones, Miami

Is a big hitter who plays the ball well in the air. The run-support terror collected 135 tackles and defended 10 passes last fall.

6. Tyrann Mathieu, Arizona

Was named to the All-Pro first team in 2015. The quick-reacting safety had 11 tackles for a loss, a sack, forced fumble and an interception for a touchdown.

7. Morgan Burnett, Green Bay   

The active and athletic safety had 68 tackles and defended five passes in 11 games played. He has defended 32 passes in his Packer career.

8. Devin McCourty, New England

A five-time defensive captain for the Patriots who has excelled at both safety and cornerback. Has started every game he was active for in his six years in New England.

9. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Green Bay

Let his instincts and athletic ability do his talking in 2015 after learning the Packers’ complex defensive playbook.

10. T.J. Ward, Denver 

The two-time Pro Bowl selection has started all 81 career regular-season games and four postseason contests. He has 33 career passes defended.

11. Patrick Chung, New England

12. Kurt Coleman, Carolina

13. Reggie Nelson, Oakland

14. Rodney McLeod, Philadelphia 

15. Da’Norris Searcy, Tennessee

16. Marcus Gilchrist, New York Jets

17. Darian Stewart, Denver

18. Isa Abdul-Quddus, Miami

19. Michael Mitchell, Pittsburgh

20. Walter Thurmond, Philadelphia

21. George Iloka, Cincinnati

22. Tony Jefferson, Arizona

23. Eric Weddle, Baltimore

24. Kam Chancellor, Seattle

25. Kenny Vaccaro, New Orleans

26. Donte Whitner, Free Agent

27. Adrian Amos, Chicago

28. Corey Graham, Buffalo

29. Glover Quin, Detroit

30. Byron Jones, Dallas