After five weeks into the NFL season, the ‘cream of the crop’ has started to rise to the top of our PFF Player Grades, and while there are a few in the top-10 that you’d expect, through five weeks some lesser known safeties have made their mark on the league.
Measured by more than just interceptions and tackles, our PFF Player Grades for safeties account for all snaps a safety sees on the field, whether he’s playing deep in coverage, up near the line of scrimmage against the run, or even rushing the passer. This helps give the complete picture of a player’s abilities on the field, and with helpful PFF Elite signature statistics to help tell the tale, these have been the top-graded all-around safeties in the NFL through Week 5.
PFF Grade: 92.5
PFF Elite Stat: 36 safeties have spent at least 50 snaps in run defense lined up within 8 yards of the line of scrimmage, among that group Quin ranks first with a 13.5 run-stop percentage (the number of run stops – solo tackle resulting in a “loss” for the offense – a defender makes relative to the number of snaps they’re on the field for in run defense).
Quin is one of two safeties to possess an elite coverage grade of 90.8 as we enter Week 6 and he pairs that with a great 87.8 run defense grade, which ranks third among safeties. Quinn ranks seventh among his position group by allowing just a 38.0 passer rating into his coverage thus and he also ranks fifth among his peers with a total of 13 stops.
PFF Grade: 91.1
PFF Elite Stat: Smith ranks first among all safeties who’ve seen at least 10 targets thrown into their coverage with an average of 0.13 yards surrendered per coverage snap.
Smith joins Quin as the only other safety to own an elite overall grade following the first five weeks of the 2017 season (only 15 players total own elite grades currently). Smith is one of just two safeties to have an elite run-defense grade at 90.5 and he ranks fourth among safeties with an 87.4 coverage grade. Opposing quarterbacks have just a 5.3 passer rating when throwing towards Smith’s coverage and he currently owns a five-to-one ratio in terms of positively graded plays to negatively graded plays in run defense.
PFF Grade: 89.2
PFF Elite Stat: Joseph is one of 16 safeties to have rushed the quarterback at least 10 times so far, his 32.5 pass rush productivity rating (PRP measures pressure created on a per-snap basis, weighted towards sacks) ranks first among that group.
Joseph is the only safety in the entire league to have both coverage and run defense grades above 80.0 while also owning a pass rush grade over 70.0. Joseph ranks third among safeties with four total pressures and his 15 total stops ranks second.
PFF Grade: 88.9
PFF Elite Stat: Tartt is one of just eight qualified safeties to have a run-stop percentage of at least 5.0 or higher while also surrendering fewer than 0.5 yards per coverage snap (number of passing yards given up divided by the number of snaps they’ve spent in coverage).
Tartt ranks third among safeties with an elite coverage grade of 90.0 while his 78.4 run-defense grade ranks just outside the top-20 at 21st. He’s held opposing quarterbacks to just a 44.0 passer rating on throws towards his coverage this season and his 14 total stops rank fourth.
PFF Grade: 88.4
PFF Elite Stat: Branch ranks first among all safeties with a 9.0 run-stop percentage.
Blurb: Branch joins Glover Quin and Harrison Smith as being one of just three safeties to have both coverage and run defense grades north of 84.0. Branch has limited the production on 11 catches into his coverage to just 66 total yards (the lowest average among all safeties who’ve allowed at least 10 catches) and he ranks first among all safeties with 16 total stops.
PFF Grade: 87.2
PFF Elite Stat: Poyer is one of five safeties to have at least three quarterback pressures so far this season.
Blurb: Poyer would be the other safety atop the leader board with an elite 90.8 coverage grade. Poyer leads all safeties with a combined five interceptions plus pass breakups and he’s already recorded nine stops this season on 338 defensive snaps after he recorded just four last year on 354 defensive snaps.
PFF Grade: 85.4
PFF Elite Stat: Thomas is one of just two safeties to have three run stops this year when lined up outside of the box (8-plus yards past the line of scrimmage).
Thomas ranks eighth among safeties with his 87.0 coverage grade and he’s paired that with a respectable 72.1 run-defense grade. There have been 43 safeties who have been on the field for at least 250 snaps so far this season, among that group Thomas is one of just two players (along with Poyer) to have at least three combined interceptions and pass breakups to go with at least nine defensive stops.
PFF Grade: 84.6
PFF Elite Stat: Jones is one of just four safeties who have been in on at least 100 passing snaps and have rushed the quarterback on at least 10 percent of those snaps. Among that group, his 11.7 PRP ranks second.
Jones has had his share of struggles in coverage so far this season as his 59.7 coverage grade ranks 54th among safeties but he’s offset that with an elite 91.7 run-defense grade, the best among his peers. Jones has made five tackles so far this season in run defense that have resulted in either a loss or no-gain by the offense (one of which was nullified by a penalty).
PFF Grade: 84.5
PFF Elite Stat: 11 safeties have seen at least 18 targets thrown into their coverage, among that group Chancellor ranks second with an average of 17.6 coverage snaps per reception allowed.
Chancellor has spent 210 snaps on the field so far this season – the eighth most among safeties – and his 87.4 coverage grade ranks fourth. He ranks sixth among safeties with his 11 total stops so far this season but he’s also tied for the eight highest number of missed tackles with five.
T-10. Antoine Bethea, Arizona Cardinals
PFF Grade: 83.8
Among safeties who’ve been on the field for at least 150 snaps, Bethea is one of just seven to rank within the top-30 in terms of run-defense grade while also possessing a coverage grade of at least 85.0. Opposing quarterbackss have had just a 44.4 passer rating when targeting Bethea in coverage so far this season.
PFF Grade: 83.8
PFF Elite Stat: Gipson is one of just two safeties (Josh Jones being the other) to have a 100 percent tackle efficiency rating (he hasn’t missed a tackle yet this season) while recording at least eight total stops.
Gipson has had his struggles in run defense this season but he currently ranks sixth among safeties with an 87.3 coverage grade. Opposing quarterbacks have just a 31.5 passer rating when targeting his area in coverage (the third lowest among all safeties who’ve seen at least five targets into their coverage) and he’s one of just five safeties to have a combined for at least four interceptions plus pass breakups.