2012 NFL Season Predictions – Top 5 Safeties in the NFL: The safety spot tends to get overlooked when teams are assembling their rosters. Players at the position aren’t usually taken in the top five of the draft, and in many cases, teams try to convert bigger cornerbacks into safeties. While not every team places a high priority on the position, those that have talented players at the position have been rewarded. There are a few safeties in the NFL that are not only valuable defensive players but are major game changers for their teams. Here is a look at the top players at the position for the upcoming NFL season.

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2012 NFL Predictions: Top 5 Safeties

1.      Troy Polamalu, Pittsburgh Steelers

Although he didn’t have the big turnover numbers in 2011-12 that he had two years ago when he was named Defensive Player of the Year, Polamalu still finished with 91 tackles and remains one of the most valuable player in the NFL. He can stop the run as well as any player at the position, and he has great instincts, and he always seems to make big plays in big moments. More importantly, Pittsburgh’s defense is elite when he is on the field and average when he is missing. The fact that Polamalu has such a dramatic impact on the Steelers’ unit as a whole speaks to his level of talent and skill.

2.      Eric Weddle, San Diego Chargers

He has been a hard-nosed tackler since entering the NFL, recording as many as 127 in a single season and topping 80 tackles in four straight years. Weddle has dramatically improved his coverage skills the last two years, registering double-digit pass breakups in back-to-back seasons. In 2011-12, he recorded a career-high seven interceptions. Weddle isn’t an overly big player, and he gets tabbed with the overachiever label a lot. While that may be true, there is no denying that he is an elite talent at the position. Weddle is an absolute hammer against the run, and he has learned how hunt the ball and make big plays in pass coverage.

3.      Earl Thomas, Seattle Seahawks

Just two years into his NFL career, it is becoming obvious that Thomas is going to be a special player. After recording 76 tackles as a rookie, he exploded for 98 stops last year. He has also combined for seven interceptions in his two seasons. Thomas is strong, reliable tackler, and he also has the speed to make stops in the backfield. His interception total is evidence of his pass coverage skills and natural instincts, and at just 23 years old, he is only going to get better. Thomas is the total package at the safety positon.

4.      Dashon Goldson, San Francisco 49ers

After logging 94 tackles in 2009-10 and 80 tackles in 2010-11, there was no doubt that Goldson was one of the hard hitters at the safety position. Last year, his coverage skills really blossomed, as well. He logged a career-high six interceptions for San Francisco last season, and he is quickly becoming one of the top all-around players at the position. Goldson is still going to be an excellent tackler and heavy hitter at his core, but the fact that he is adding the ballhawk element to his game pushes him to the elite level.

5.      Ed Reed, Baltimore Ravens

Injuries have taken their toll on the 33-year-old Reed the last three years, but the future Hall of Famer has still managed five forced fumbles and 14 interceptions during the stretch. Reed is going to go down as one of the best ballhawks in league history, and he is still plenty dangerous when he gets his hands on the ball. His instincts and competitive edge have allowed him to compensate for whatever he has lost in the way of speed and athleticism over the years, and while he may be on the tail end of his career, he can still make big plays.

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