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Top 10 Free Safeties in NFL 2023 Rankings

Minkah Fitzpatrick is the best Free Safety in the NFL right now going into the 2023-2024 NFL season. Also where Antoine Winfield Jr., Harrison Smith, and more rank


By admin | June 29, 2023

The defensive side of the football continues to see changes including within the NFL secondary as National Football League teams look to get more athletic and faster with higher ability to adjust in coverage.

With the need to slow down high passing profiles of teams around the NFL that has transitioned to heavier passing attacks, the free safety position has become more and more important over the past few NFL seasons.

As you start to look at the Top 10 NFL Free Safeties 2023 rankings list, the list is loaded with a ton of talented weapons including Minkah Fitzpatrick of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Fitzpatrick who started his NFL career as a cornerback with the Miami Dolphins has made the transition to free safety look easy while ranking among the best free safety in the NFL.

As Fitzpatrick headlines the group, the Steelers free safety is joined by Kevin Byard of the Tennessee Titans, Micah Hyde of the Buffalo Bills, Antoine Winfield Jr of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Justin Simmons of the Denver Broncos. Here is a look at the Top 10 NFL Free Safeties 2023 Rankings list.

Honorable Mention

Quandre Diggs

Team: Seattle Seahawks

2022 Stats: 50 Solo, 1 FF, 4 INT, 7 PD

Landing just outside of the Top 10 NFL Free Safeties 2023 rankings is the Seattle Seahawks veteran free safety Quandre Diggs.

Diggs who is coming off his second season with the Seahawks put together a strong all-around performance posting 71 tackles to go along with one forced fumble, four interceptions, two stuffs, and seven passes defended.

Over the past three NFL schedules, Diggs has posted 14 total interceptions including at least four in each of those three seasons. Diggs who is a playmaker who has a knack for finding the football while covering all over the secondary the past few seasons. 

Brian Branch

Team: Detroit Lions

2022 Stats: 0 Solo, 0 FF, 0 INT, 0 PD

While reaching occurs every off-season one free safety who has the potential to rank among the best free safeties in the NFL is the Detroit Lions Brian Branch.

Branch who was drafted by the Detroit Lions in the 2nd round of the 2023 NFL Draft out of the Alabama Crimson Tide is a versatile playmaker who can play both against the pass and against the run.

In 12 games last season for the Crimson Tide, Branch racked up 63 tackles while recording two sacks, six quarterback pressures, one interception, and six passes defended while holding opposing quarterbacks to a 75.5 QB rating when throwing towards him.

Top 10 NFL Free Safeties

10. Eddie Jackson

Team: Chicago Bears

2022 Stats: 59 Solo, 2 FF, 4 INT, 6 PD

Coming in at number 10 on the Top 10 NFL Free Safeties 2023 rankings is the Chicago Bears free safety who was playing some of the best football of his entire career during last season.

However, a late season injury shut Eddie Jackson down for the season while possible limiting his impact during the upcoming 2023 NFL season.

Nonetheless when on the field last season Jackson limited opposing receivers to just eight total catches over the first 11 and half games of the season. In just those 12 games, the Bears free safety posted four interceptions, two forced fumbles, and 80 total tackles.

9. Harrison Smith

Team: Minnesota Vikings

2022 Stats: 66 Solo, 1 FF, 5 INT, 10 PD

Despite being one of the older free safeties in the NFL, Harrison Smith of the Minnesota Vikings continues to be a ball hawk within the teams secondary.

Smith, who is a natural free safety, is coming off his fourth NFL season with at least five interceptions. The Vikings veteran added 85 tackles to go along with the five interceptions across 14 games played.

In addition, Smith added 10 total passes defended, one stuff, and one forced fumble while continue to rank among the most reliable safeties in the NFL.

8. Jimmie Ward

Team: Houston Texans

2022 Stats: 38 Solo, 1 FF, 3 INT, 5 PD

A fresh start will happen for Jimmie Ward during the 2023 NFL season after signing with the Houston Texans. Ward who started his NFL career with the San Francisco 49ers had been an anchor with the teams secondary since arriving in the NFL during the 2014 NFL Draft.

The former 1st round pick appeared in 12 games last season while posting as a threat against the pass but more importantly against the run. Ward posted a run grade of 91.4 last season while ranking among the best free safeties in the NFL.

Look for Ward to continue his success as he reunited with his old defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans who takes over as head coach for the Texans in 2023.

7. Marcus Williams

Team: Baltimore Ravens

2022 Stats: 44 Solo, 0 FF, 4 INT, 8 PD

Playmakers at the safety position is something of a normal thing for the Baltimore Ravens and that continued last season with the addition of Marcus Williams.

While Williams may get overlooked among the best free safeties entering the 2023 NFL season, most of that is due to him appearing in just 10 games last season after dealing with a hand injury.

Limited in playing time due to the injury, Williams recorded four interceptions to go along with eight passes defended while also recording 61 tackles over that stretch of games. 

6. Jessie Bates III

Team: Atlanta Falcons

2022 Stats: 38 Solo, 1 FF, 4 INT, 8 PD

Another top-notch free safety making a transition to a new secondary in 2023 is the former Cincinnati Bengals free safety Jessie Bates III.

Bates III who signed on with the Atlanta Falcons for the upcoming season is coming off another solid season while ranking among one of the top players at his position.

Bates III finished last season ranked within the top 10 against the run with an 88.3 grade from PFF. In addition, Bates III added four interceptions, eight passes defended, one force fumble to goa long with 71 tackles.

Since entering the NFL, the former Wake Forest Demon Deacon has posted at least three interceptions in four of his five NFL seasons.

5. Justin Simmons

Team: Denver Broncos

2022 Stats: 42 Solo, 3 FF, 6 INT, 7 PD

Rounding out the Top 5 on the Top 10 NFL Free Safeties 2023 rankings is the Denver Broncos Justin Simmons.

A true playmaker at the free safety position the Broncos Justin Simmons is coming off one of his stronger seasons in the league while finishing the season tied with the league lead with six interceptions alongside fellow top free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick.

In addition, Simmons added 69 tackles, three forced fumbles, seven passes defended, and 2.5 stuffs. Even more impressive those numbers were posted in just 12 games as Simmons missed time with injuries.

4. Antoine Winfield Jr.

Team: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2022 Stats: 64 Solo, 1 FF, 1 INT, 3 PD

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers free safety is as versatile as any within the NFL while providing the team a player who can stop the pass and the run while also being a threat to sack the quarterback whenever called upon.

At just 24 years old, Antoine Winfield Jr continues to develop into one of the best free safeties in the NFL as he looks to continue that development during the 2023 NFL schedule.

Winfield Jr is coming off 2022 NFL season posting 80 tackles, four sacks, one forced fumble, one interception to go along with three passes defended. Winfield ranked among the tops at the position in stopping the run last season.

3. Micah Hyde

Team: Buffalo Bills

2022 Stats: 4 Solo, 0 FF, 0 INT, 0 PD

Just a few short seasons ago Micah Hyde of the Buffalo Bills would have landed at the top spot among the list of talented free safeties in the league.

While Hyde will enter the 2023 NFL season at 32 years old, the Bills versatile safety brings leadership and a high football IQ to the secondary while having a knack to make a play when needed.

After missing all but two games last season, Hyde will enter 2023 looking to return to the level of play he posted in 2021 where he recorded five interceptions, posted 10 passes defended, and recorded one sack. While time will only tell how Hyde will play during the upcoming season.

2. Kevin Byard

Team: Tennessee Titans

2022 Stats: 69 Solo, 0 FF, 4 INT, 6 PD

When it comes to the top two free safeties in the NFL have the track record of success to land at the top spot. However only one can while Kevin Byard lands just behind Minkah Fitzpatrick entering the 2023 NFL season.

The veteran free safety is coming off a season posting an overall grade of 79.5 and a pass coverage grade of 81 from PFF. In addition to ranking among the top 10 within the free safety in both statistics, Byard also posted four interceptions to go along with 108 tackles, and six passes defended.

Since arriving in the NFL in 2016, Byard has posted at least four interceptions in five of his seven seasons in the NFL while bringing his total to 27.

1. Minkah Fitzpatrick

Team: Pittsburgh Steelers

2022 Stats: 56 Solo, 0 FF, 6 INT, 11 PD

In at number one on the Top 10 NFL Free Safeties 2023 rankings is the Pittsburgh Steelers veteran free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick has been a leader within the Steelers defense since arriving in a trade from the Miami Dolphins is coming off another strong season.

The former cornerback is coming off posting at least an 82 grade against both the run and pass last season while also adding a league high six interceptions.

Since arriving in Pittsburgh before the 2020 NFL season, Fitzpatrick has posted 12 interceptions over the past three seasons. In addition to those numbers Fitzpatrick added 96 tackles to go along 11 passes defended and 2.5 stuffs.

How would you rank these NFL Free Safeties going into the 2023-2024 NFL season? Rank below to be added in the NFL Power Rankings.

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Players Count 10
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  2. T.J. Green

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  3. Johnathan Abram

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  6. Darnell Savage Jr.

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  7. John Johnson

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  8. Andrew Sendejo

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  9. Marquise Blair

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  10. Quandre Diggs

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