Top 10 NFL Safeties of All Time

Football, NCAAF, CFB, NFL article at Knup Sports

A breakdown and list of the greatest NFL safeties of all time as a top 10 list. Who will round out the list in the top spot?

The safety position is one of the more underrated positions, but has also seen some of the NFL’s greatest athletes. This list will rank the top 10 to ever play the game with respect to their eras.

5. Ken Houston

Ken Houston was one of the greatest strong safety of all time being one of the best ever at stopping the running game. Houston was also elite in pass coverage in the flat and the middle zones of his team’s defense.

Houston totaled 48 career interceptions and returned 9 for touchdowns, leading the league twice in interceptions returned for touchdowns. Houston was twice selected as a first team all pro in 1975 and 1978.

4. Brian Dawkins

Nicknamed weapon X for his versatility on the field Brian Dawkins is one of the only players in NFL history that has over 20 career sacks, 30 career interceptions, and 30 forced fumbles. Dawkins was also one of the hardest hitting players in the history of the NFL.

Dawkins set the tone for every game he played with his bone crushing hits in both the pass and run game. Dawkins also had great ball skills totalling 37 career interceptions, but it was his hitting ability that made him famous.

Dawkins forced 36 career interceptions which is the 13th most of all time. Dawkins was selected as a first team all pro four times in his career.

3. Elmen Tunnell

Elmen Tunnell was selected as a first team all pro four times in his career and totalled 79 career interceptions, which is the second most in the history of the NFL. What is more amazing is that Tunnell only played 12 games a season and still reached that total.

Tunnell was also one of the greatest return men of his era and that same athleticism allowed him to become one of the NFL’s first true free safeties as he was athletic enough to play 20-25 yards away from the line of scrimmage.

2. Ed Reed

Ed Reed had the greatest range of any safety to ever play the game with his ridiculous instincts and amazing speed. Reed was a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks with his knowledge of the game, as he might have been the smartest safety ever.

Reed could also stop the run with great success even though he was smaller than other safeties on this list. Reed also was a great special teams player blocking punts consistently for the beginning of his career.

He also led the league in interceptions three times which is tied for the most in NFL history. Reed also has the most interception return yards in NFL history with 1,590. As well as the most career postseason interceptions with 9.

1. Ronnie Lott

Ronnie Lott could play every single position in the secondary being named a first team all pro at both cornerback and safety. Lott also was one of the hardest hitting players in the history of the NFL.

Lott helped one of the greatest dynasties win four Super Bowls in the 1980s San Francisco 49ers. Lott was a first team all pro six times in his career at cornerback, free safety, and strong safety.

Lott led the league in interceptions twice, and interceptions touchdowns twice as well. Lott also once cut off his pinky in order to continue playing in a regular season game. Lott was the ultimate competitor and had all the talent to back it up as well.

To Top