For the third straight year, we’re continuing the Ranking the Rooms: AFC North series here at Steelers Depot. You can find the latest rankings here. Today, we’ll move to the back half of the defense, taking a look at the AFC North Safeties rooms.
I’ll personally run down each position, starting with the quarterbacks in the division, and ending with specialists in this 10-part series.
In case you forgot the rankings from last summer, I have you covered.
Here is the 2017 Ranking the Rooms: AFC North Safeties list:
- Baltimore Ravens
- Pittsburgh Steelers
- Cincinnati Bengals
- Cleveland Browns
Let’s take a look at this year’s list.
1. Baltimore Ravens
Not much has changed at the top for safeties in the AFC North.
Veterans Eric Weddle and Tony Jefferson return for the Baltimore Ravens, giving the purple and black one of the top safety tandems in the NFL, let alone the AFC North.
Weddle has lost a step, but he’s still a game wrecker, while Jefferson brings a violent edge to the defensive secondary.
Behind the two Pro Bowl-caliber safeties, second-year safety Chuck Clark, and rookie DeShon Elliott provide the depth for the Ravens.
Following the draft, I said I felt like the Ravens found a starter in Elliott late, and I still stand by that. He has the range and athleticism for the position, so I’m wondering why he fell. Clark is a run and hit guy, who fits the makeup for the Ravens’ team philosophy. This is a dangerous safeties room.
2. Pittsburgh Steelers
This room underwent a ton of change in the off-season, but they don’t fall one single spot in the 2018 rankings.
Morgan Burnett brings a veteran presence to a young group, and he’s certainly an upgrade over Mike Mitchell, from a tackling standpoint, and a leadership/communication standpoint. I expect things to get much better in that department with Burnett in the fold.
Sean Davis continues to float around the defense, yet to establish a position, but he’s due for a strong season. While he’s not the high-impact guy many thought he would be coming out of Maryland, he’s shown enough flashes for me to believe he can be a key guy for this defense.
Aside from Davis and Burnett, the Steelers went big at safety in the draft, picking Terrell Edmunds in the first round, and Marcus Allen in the fifth round. I still think Allen could slide to middle linebacker and not miss a beat, but I can’t see that happening right now. With Edmunds, he’s a terrific athlete and is a guy who was a great communicator at Virginia Tech.
Jordan Dangerfield, Nat Behre, and Malik Golden will battle it out for the final roster spot(s) in training camp.
I like the depth, versatility, and physicality with this group. It’s trending in the right direction.
3. Cleveland Browns
I know that Jabrill Peppers really struggled early on last season playing the single-high safety role under Gregg Williams, but I like the way he closed the season, finishing the year with four tackles, and one interception against the Steelers.
When he’s allowed to play in the box, he’s a great player. With the addition of Damarious Randall to the roster via trade with the Green Bay Packers, Peppers should be allowed to slide down into the box full time as Randall takes over the single-high role.
Randall is making a transition from cornerback to safety, but he has the athleticism and ability to react quickly to what’s happening in front of him to get by at the position.
Behind Peppers and Randall, Derron Smith, Derrick Kindred, and Mike Jordan give the Browns some decent depth, with Kindred being the highest ceiling of the three.
4. Cincinnati Bengals
Aside from George Illoka, I’m not very high on this group. Iloka is still one of the best safeties in the AFC, but he’s pretty much a one-man band at this point, even if Shawn Williams is a serviceable starter.
The Bengals drafted Brandon Wilson and Trayvon Henderson in the last two years to provide depth next to Clayton Fejedelem, but Cincinnati has an uphill battle ahead at the safety position.