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Top 10 Best NFL Free Safeties of All Time Rankings

Ranking the best Free Safeties of All Time in the NFL such as Steve Atwater, Ronnie Lott, Ed Reed, and many more


By admin | November 13, 2021

Before we get into the Best Free Safeties of All Time Rankings lets get into the position. The Free Safety position has been graced with some of the most elegant, athletic and playmaking players on the defensive side of the ball over the history of the game. As we have seen with every other position, the free safety position is one that has evolved in both directions over time as they were expected to help slow down the run, stop the pass, get to the quarterback and more importantly stop teams from scoring on big plays.

With the top Free Safeties to play the game, they all carried themselves with talent and made sure opposing teams feared them. From the likes of the great Ronnie Lott to the Ball Hawk Ed Reed who forced some of the greatest quarterbacks of All-Time to pay attention to where he was on the field at All-Times. Here is our list of the Top 10 Free Safeties in NFL history.

Honorable Mention

Devin McCourty

Team(s): New England Patriots

Coming in as one of the top free safeties just missing the cut is the New England Patriots star Devin McCourty. McCourty, who joined the safety after being selected 27th overall during the 2010 NFL draft out of Rutgers University has been one of the most consistent free safeties to play the game. 

Devin McCourty has been a key part of the defense that has helped the Patriots win three Super Bowl championships. McCourty is a two time Pro Bowler and three time Second-Team All-Pro who is often overlooked in today’s game. McCourty has 29 interceptions and four defensive touchdowns.

Eugene Robinson

Team(s): Seattle Seahawks, Green Bay Packers & Atlanta Falcons

One name that is well deserving of a mention as one of the top free safeties to play the game is Eugene Robinson. Robinson, who went undrafted during the 1985 draft after playing his college career at Colgate went on to put together a solid NFL career from 1985 to 2000. 

Robinson earned three Pro Bowl trips and led the NFL in interceptions during 1993 while also winning Super Bowl XXXI. Over his career Robinson recorded 1,415 tackles to go with 57 interceptions and 7.5 sacks.

Top 10 Best Free Safeties of All Time

10. Yale Larry

Team(s): Detroit Lions

The man that many considered to clear the path for free safeties today, Yale Larry is as good as nearly anyone on this list and one that helped evolve the position. 

In an ERA when running came first natural and passing came second, Larry recorded 50 career interceptions over his career while forcing opposing offenses to look for him during passing attempts. Larry was a nine time Pro Bowler, five time All-Pro and a three time NFL champion.

9. Jake Scott

Team(s): Miami Dolphins & Washington Football Team

When looking at statistics and production, Jake Scott ranks near the top among the position after finishing his career with 49 interceptions in just nine NFL seasons. 

During his nine seasons Scott was a two time Super Bowl Champion with the Miami Dolphins, five time NFL Pro Bowler and two time First Team All-Pro. Scott turned in another impressive performance during Super Bowl VII while helping the Dolphins win the Super Bowl and him earning the Super Bowl MVP.   

8. Eric Weddle

Team(s): San Diego Chargers, Baltimore Ravens & Los Angeles Rams

Looking at the landscape of the NFL today, Eric Weddle was a game changer and key part of each of the defenses he played upon including his early days with the San Diego Chargers. Weddle was a versatile talent that could play the pass, stop the run and make aggressive attempts at opposing quarterbacks. 

Weddle was a two time First Team All-Pro and six time Pro Bowler while also leading the NFL in interceptions in 2011. The former Chargers star finished his career with 1,178 tackles to go with 9.5 sacks and 29 interceptions with four defensive touchdowns.

7. Darren Sharper

Team(s): Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings & New Orleans Saints

Darren Sharper was considered one of the best safeties to play during his playing days and possibly the best defensive player on the field each week. Over his career, Sharper recorded 942 career tackles to go with 7.5 sacks, 63 interceptions and 13 defensive touchdowns. 

Sharper finished his career ranked sixth all-time in interceptions and tied for the most defensive touchdowns all-time. Sharper was a five time NFL Pro Bowler, two time First Team All-Pro, Super Bowl Champion while also leading the NFL in interceptions in two different seasons. 

6. Steve Atwater

Team(s): Denver Broncos & New York Jets

One of the most aggressive and talented free safeties to play the position is the former Denver Broncos great Steve Atwater. Atwater who was selected 20th overall during the 1989 NFL draft went on to play 10 seasons with the Broncos before finishing his career with the New York Jets in 1999. 

Atwater made eight Pro Bowl teams, was named First Team All-Pro twice and won two Super Bowl titles in back to back seasons with the Broncos. Over his career, Atwater recorded 1,180 tackles to go with 24 interceptions and 408 interception return yards. 

5. Larry Wilson

Team(s): St. Louis Cardinals

Now making our Top 5 of best Free Safeties of All Time is Larry Wilson. He was as good as any defensive back or defensive player during his playing days from 1960 to 1972. Wilson, who was a key member of the St. Louis Cardinals team, spent his entire career with the team while eventually playing himself into one of the game’s greats. 

Larry Wilson took home the 1966 Defensive Player of the Year award while also leading the NFL in interceptions. Wilson is a member of both the 1960’s and 1970’s All-Decade team while also being a six time First Team All-Pro and eight time Pro Bowler. Wilson recorded 52 career interceptions with five defensive touchdowns.

4. Willie Wood

Team(s): Green Bay Packers

Looking at his accolades Willie Wood is well worth mentioning as one of the best players if not best safeties to play the game. Wood finished his career with 48 interceptions and two defensive touchdowns while making eight Pro Bowl teams. 

Willie Wood was a key member of the Green Bay Packers defense and team that won five NFL championships and two Super Bowl titles. Wood was a five time First Team All-Pro while also leading the NFL in interceptions during the 1962 NFL season. 

3. Paul Krause

Team(s): Washington Football Team & Minnesota Vikings

The NFL all-time leader in interceptions with 81, Paul Krause was nearly impossible to throw against during his playing days with the Washington Redskins. Krause, who played his college career at Iowa, was selected by the Washington Redskins in the second round of the 1964 draft. 

It didn’t take long for Krause to display his talents as he led the NFL with 12 interceptions as a rookie while leading the NFL. Krause finished his career as an eight time Pro Bowler and three time First Team All-Pro. Krause finished his career with 1,185 interception return yards and six defensive touchdowns. 

2. Ronnie Lott

Team(s): San Francisco 49ers 

Between Ronnie Lott and Ed Reed, either of these Pro Football Hall of Famers could have come in at number one and number two. Nonetheless since Lott spent time playing cornerback and strong safety, some of his best performances came within those positions. That said, Lott still put together a Hall of Fame career recording 1,146 tackles to go with 63 interceptions, five defensive touchdowns and 16 forced fumbles. 

Lott led the NFL in interceptions in both 1986 and 1991 while making 10 Pro Bowls and being selected as a First Team All-Pro in eight different seasons. Lott was a part of four different Super Bowl championship teams. 

1. Ed Reed

Team(s): Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans & New York Jets

Ed Reed was a once in a lifetime generational talent that played the free safety position as well as anyone to ever play the position. Reed, who many consider to be the greatest defensive ball hawks of All-Time had a knack of finding the ball and showing up in key situations for the Baltimore Ravens. Reed could defend the pass, block punts, return interceptions and force fumbles was nearly impossible for offenses to slow down. 

The Ravens free safety was the 2004 NFL Defensive Player of the Year while also being a key member of the Super Bowl XLVII Super Bowl team. Reed finished his career as a nine time Pro Bowler, three time NFL interceptions leader and five time First Team All-Pro. Reed finished his career with 643 tackles to go along with six sacks, 139 passes defended, 64 interceptions, 11 forced fumbles and nine defensive touchdowns over his career.

How would you rank the best Free Safeties of All Time? Rank below to be added in the Power Rankings. 

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Players Count 10
  1. Yale Larry

    FS All-Time
  2. Eugene Robinson

    FS All-Time
  3. Devin McCourty

    FS All-Time
  4. Eric Weddle

    FS All-Time
  5. Jake Scott

    FS All-Time
  6. Paul Krause

    FS All-Time
  7. Willie Wood

    FS All-Time
  8. Larry Wilson

    FS All-Time
  9. Steve Atwater

    FS All-Time
  10. Darren Sharper

    FS All-Time
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