Thursday, June 23, 2011
Breaking down safeties: Baltimore
By Matt Williamson
Scouts Inc.'s Matt Williamson breaks down the safeties of each AFC North team. Today: Baltimore Ravens.
In my opinion, Ed Reed is the second-best safety in the league. Reed is a sure Hall of Famer, and his overall playmaking ability is off the charts. After spending the first six games of last season on the PUP list, Reed stormed back to lead the league with eight interceptions. There isn't a more dangerous defender in the league with the ball in his hands. He is a student of the game who baits quarterbacks and breaks on the ball extremely well. Reed’s body might not hold up the way it once did, and he isn’t quite as inclined to throw himself into the action as he once was, but he is still a fantastic player.
Dawan Landry is the starter at strong safety, but he could hit the open market in free agency. More teams are in the market for free safeties, but Landry is improving in coverage and had a heck of a season for the Ravens. He should command a large contract.
Tom Zbikowski might be ready to step in if Landry departs. Zbikowski is a smart and physical player who can hold up against the run and in coverage, and he continues to improve. If Landry does move on, though, the Ravens would be wise to add a free agent to the mix, preferably a younger player just coming off his first contract.
Haruki Nakamura is a core special teams player for Baltimore, but on defense he is a liability in coverage and takes more penalties than he should. Still, for a fourth safety, you could do a lot worse.
Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com. Follow Matt Williamson on Twitter @WilliamsonNFL