NFC North: 2011 Safety Power Rankings

If you follow Nick Collins on Twitter (@nickthepick36) or have read anything about him recently, you get a clear sense the Green Bay Packers safety doesn't feel appropriately recognized as one of the NFL's top players at his position. A three-time Pro Bowl player, Collins mostly sat alone during Super Bowl media sessions and recently groused about a low ranking in a list of the NFL's top 100 players.

"I don't appreciate, but I accept it," Collins told ESPNMilwaukee.com's Jason Wilde during one of those media sessions. "Like I said before, one day somebody will recognize that I'm a three-time Pro Bowler. But it's all good. I might need to change my image. I need to do something. But I'm me. I love what I do. So I'm going to stick to what I know and what I've had a lot of success doing."

As it turns out, all Collins had to do was return an interception for a touchdown in the Super Bowl. Collins, as you know, grabbed a pass from Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and returned it 37 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter of Super Bowl XLV.

A few months later, Collins received pretty much the highest ranking possible in ESPN.com's offseason positional rankings. Collins finished No. 3 behind the Steelers' Troy Polamalu and the Baltimore Ravens' Ed Reed. No one could find a reason to put Collins ahead of Polamalu or Reed, but half of our voters ranked him third and two more, including me, ranked him No. 4.

Overall, the safety rankings reflected our genuine uncertainty about a position that is generally judged by the absolute worse measurements possible: Interceptions and bone-jarring hits. Depending on the defensive scheme, safeties can be asked to fill dramatically different roles. Performing an amateur evaluation and ranking them accordingly proved pretty difficult, and I think that's why there was wide-spread discrepancies after Polamalu and Reed.

But in the end, at least in this case, Collins was appropriately recognized as one of the NFL's top safeties. Hopefully that counts for something.

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NFC NORTH SCOREBOARD

Sunday, 9/21
Monday, 9/22