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Sports Illustrated’s Boomer Esiason unveils the five most underrated players going into the 2014 NFL season.
XN Sports wraps up its positional rankings with the NFL’s best defensive secondaries.
As expected, the Legion of Boom leads the pack, but a number of other teams made big-time moves adding players to emulate what Seattle did with its pass defense in 2013 en route to a Super Bowl victory.
Here are the top 10 secondaries in the NFL for 2014:
1. Seattle Seahawks
The league’s best cornerback and its top safety all reside on one team. Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas III are a deadly duo, and along with Kam Chancellor and budding star Byron Maxwell, Pete Carroll is seemingly churning out Pro Bowl defensive backs.
2. New Orleans Saints
The Saints followed the Seahawks’ blueprint, adding top free-agent safety Jairus Byrd and veteran Champ Bailey to a secondary featuring 2013 first-round pick Kenny Vaccaro and Keenan Lewis. With Rob Ryan calling the shots, the aggressive Saints secondary seems primed for a pick-six week in and week out.
3. New England Patriots
With the signing of Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner, the Pats won’t even realize they lost their top corner Aqib Talib to Denver this offseason. This collection of defensive backs is the team’s best since the days of Ty Law and Rodney Harrison.
4. New York Giants
New York bulked up its pass defense this offseason by signing free agent Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to play opposite former first-round pick Prince Amukamara. Antrel Rolle has long been one of the NFL’s top safety ballhawks. Stevie Brown led the team in interceptions two seasons ago before an injury cost him his 2013 season.
5. Denver Broncos
As I mentioned earlier, Denver nabbed Talib from rival New England to pair up with one of the top free-agent safeties, T.J. Ward. The Broncos also drafted Bradley Roby in the first round.
6. Cleveland Browns
The Browns used the No. 8 overall pick in May’s draft to pair Justin Gilbert with elite corner Joe Haden. The team also brought in Donte Whitner from the 49ers to sure up the back end of the secondary,
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Lovie Smith has a knack for putting together awesome secondaries, and as he begins his first year in Tampa he’s already done it again. The Bucs signed Alterraun Verner, who tallied five picks in 2013, to go along with Johnthan Banks, who impressed last year. The safety tandem features former first-rounder Mark Barron and hard-hitting Dashon Goldson.
8. Arizona Cardinals
When Tyrann Mathieu is healthy, the Cardinals have a secondary prone to forcing turnovers. Mathieu will start opposite first-round pick Deone Bucannon. Elite corner Patrick Peterson now has help around him in the form of veteran Antonio Cromartie, who has thrived in the No. 2 role for the Jets.
9. Green Bay Packers
The Pack go deep with their cornerbacks, beginning with starters Sam Shields and Tramon Williams. The team re-signed Morgan Burnett to help mentor first-round pick Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Green Bay has far and away the best secondary in its division.
10. Baltimore Ravens
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