Just like last year, Athlon Sports' 2015 NFL Preview magazine includes NFL player rankings at every position. The rankings in the magazine are provided by Dan Shonka of Ourlads' NFL Scouting Services, a company that's been in the football talent evaluation business for more than three decades.
Seattle's quest for a second straight Super Bowl title came up painfully short, but it wasn't due to the efforts of the league's best secondary. The Legion of Boom is a big reason for the Seahawks' two-year reign (and counting) in the NFC, a group headlined by a trio of All-Pros in cornerback Richard Sherman (No. 2) and safeties Earl Thomas (No. 1) and Kam Chancellor (No. 3). Whether Sherman or Darrelle Revis is the NFL's top shutdown cornerback is up for debate, but what's not is how important Seattle's defensive backs are to the team's success. While the consecutive Super Bowl appearances should be enough to back this up, consider that Sherman (left elbow), Thomas (dislocated left shoulder), and Chancellor (left knee) each played through an injury on Super Sunday and came just a last-second Russell Wilson interception shy of beating Tom Brady and the Patriots.
Rankings courtesy of Ourlads' NFL Scouting Services
2015 NFL Player Rankings: Cornerbacks
1. Darrelle Revis, N.Y. Jets
The All-Pro shutdown corner is back with the Jets on a five-year, $70 million deal after picking up a Super Bowl ring with New England.
2. Richard Sherman, Seattle
The All-Pro selection was the least-targeted cornerback in the NFL last season. One of the most competitive and rangy corners, he challenges every ball in his area.
3. Chris Harris Jr., Denver
A versatile, skilled outside corner who can also play in the slot or at safety, Harris earned a Pro Bowl invite last season thanks to his standout ball skills.
4. Vontae Davis, Indianapolis
After a trade from the Dolphins to the Colts, Davis’ career as a top coverage corner took off and earned him a Pro Bowl invitation in 2014.
5. Patrick Peterson, Arizona
After diagnosis and treatment of diabetes, he was back winning his share of one-on-one battles with the league’s elite receivers.
6. Joe Haden, Cleveland
Haden is tough in run support and a good open-field tackler. The five-year veteran totaled 73 tackles, 20 passes defended and three interceptions in 2014.
7. Sean Smith, Kansas City
His length helps him in press coverage, and he has become more technique conscious. Due to a DUI conviction, Smith likely will be suspended for the first two games.
8. Aqib Talib, Denver
Talib earned back-to-back Pro Bowl invitations with New England and Denver, finishing last season with 16 passes defended, four interceptions and two touchdowns.
9. Desmond Trufant, Atlanta
One of the top young corners in the game, Trufant has good short-area quickness and takes a direct line to the ball with no false steps.
10. Alterraun Verner, Tampa Bay
Verner should be a perfect fit in Lovie Smith’s Cover 2. He does a good job rerouting receivers with his quick feet and reactions.
11. Rashean Mathis, Detroit
12. Orlando Scandrick, Dallas
13. Corey Graham, Buffalo
14. Byron Maxwell, Philadelphia
15. Antonio Cromartie, N.Y. Jets
16. Darius Slay, Detroit
17. Brandon Flowers, San Diego
18. Chris Culliver, Washington
19. Kareem Jackson, Houston
20. Tim Jennings, Chicago
21. Xavier Rhodes, Minnesota
22. Tramon Williams, Cleveland
23. Brent Grimes, Miami
24. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, N.Y. Giants
25. Johnathan Joseph, Houston
26. Prince Amukamara, N.Y. Giants
27. Stephon Gilmore, Buffalo
28. William Gay, Pittsburgh
29. Lardarius Webb, Baltimore
30. Perrish Cox, Tennessee
2015 NFL Player Rankings: Safeties
1. Earl Thomas, Seattle
A defensive leader who has become a perennial All-Pro-caliber player.
2. Eric Weddle, San Diego
Consistently mentioned with the game’s top free safeties, Weddle earned his fifth All-Pro selection in 2014 and is a standout special teams player.
3. Kam Chancellor, Seattle
A cornerstone of the Seahawks’ defense as the secondary’s physical tone-setter, Chancellor played through a torn MCL in the Super Bowl.
4. Glover Quin, Detroit
A big-time coverage safety who can cover deep or play the nickel, Quin led the NFL with seven interceptions.
5. Tashaun Gipson, Cleveland
Second in the league with six interceptions, Gipson also defended eight passes and returned one pick for a touchdown.
6. Harrison Smith, Minnesota
Smith has emerged as one of the best young safeties in the league. The former Golden Domer had 92 tackles and five interceptions.
7. Devin McCourty, New England
The corner-turned-safety is one of the league’s most dependable players. McCourty is smart and athletic and has unlimited coverage range.
8. Antoine Bethea, San Francisco
After finishing with 14 passes defended (including four INTs), Bethea has been an underrated safety with the general public but not the league’s receivers.
9. Mike Adams, Indianapolis
In his first season with the Colts, Adams reached his first career Pro Bowl at age 33. He intercepted five passes and forced two fumbles last season.
10. Reshad Jones, Miami
The big-hitting safety also plays the ball well in the air. He was responsible for 80 tackles and seven passes defended along with three interceptions in 2014.
11. Jairus Byrd, New Orleans
12. Donte Whitner, Cleveland
13. George Iloka, Cincinnati
14. Malcolm Jenkins, Philadelphia
15. Reggie Nelson, Cincinnati
16. Patrick Chung, New England
17. Michael Griffin, Tennessee
18. Morgan Burnett, Green Bay
19. Robert Blanton, Minnesota
20. T.J. Ward, Denver
21. Antrel Rolle, Chicago
22. Dawan Landry, Free Agent
23. William Moore, Atlanta
24. Da’Norris Searcy, Tennessee
25. Will Hill, Baltimore
26. Calvin Pryor, N.Y. Jets
27. Darian Stewart, Denver
28. Danieal Manning, Free Agent
29. James Ihedigbo, Detroit
30. Nate Allen, Oakland