Versatile safeties often invaluable in the NFL
January, 12, 2010
By Steve Muench
The Pittsburgh Steelers fielded a dominating defense on their way to winning the Super Bowl last year, but with SS Troy Polamalu missing most of this season with a knee injury, the Steelers fell off significantly. They simply missed Polamalu's ability to play close to the line of scrimmage or deep in coverage, match up in man coverage or cover a lot of ground in zone. Safeties like Polamalu, who make a difference in nearly every way for a defense, have been few and far between in recent drafts. Only Malcolm Jenkins (No. 14 overall to the Saints, 2009) and Kenny Phillips (No. 31, Giants, 2008) came off the board in the first round during the past two years, and even that is a bit of a stretch because Jenkins lines up at both cornerback and safety. The 2010 draft offers hope for teams looking for immediate safety help, however. Three safeties look like first-rounders this year, and it would mark the first time since 2007 (LaRon Landry, Michael Griffin, Reggie Nelson) that three safeties have come off the board in the first round. Here's a look at the three players atop the 2010 safety class:
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