Ranking NFL secondaries: Seahawks still set standard, surprise team cracks Top 5

NFL rosters are essentially set until training camps open later this month. USA TODAY Sports has analyzed each team's depth chart and is ranking units throughout the league.

Today's positional group: Secondaries

1. Seattle Seahawks: The Legion of Boom is still legit. FS Earl Thomas and SS Kam Chancellor remain, arguably, the premier players at their respective positions, while Pro Bowler Richard Sherman continues to be one of the league's elite corners. CB DeShawn Shead, whose prognosis is currently clouded after he tore a knee ligament in the playoffs, had also become a valuable component of a unit that allowed just 16 TD passes in 2016 even though injuries cost Thomas and Chancellor nine combined games. Third rounders Shaquill Griffin and Delano Hill only deepen a talent pool that also includes veteran Jeremy Lane.

2. Denver Broncos: The No Fly Zone features the game's top cover tandem with Chris Harris Jr. (does anyone defend the slot better?) and Aqib Talib listed first and second, respectively, at cornerback, per ProFootballFocus' 2016 league-wide rankings. Bradley Roby comes off a down year but rounds out a dynamic nickel package. Darian Stewart and hard-hitting T.J. Ward are a solid safety combo though not nearly as formidable as the top-ranked pass defense's corners. And it should be noted the pass rush is a big reason Denver posted league lows in TD passes allowed (13), passer rating (69.7) and completion rate (55.4%).

3. New York Giants: S Landon Collins (125 tackles, 4 sacks, 5 INTs) emerged as an impact player, finishing third in voting for NFL defensive player of the year behind Khalil Mack and Von Miller. The arrival of CB Janoris Jenkins was another significant reason for last year's defensive turnaround. He leads a promising trio that includes Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and 2016 first rounder Eli Apple. But the Giants will need upgraded play at free safety.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars: Surprised? CB Jalen Ramsey proved worthy of the draft's fifth overall pick last year. Now he'll be joined by free agent arrival A.J. Bouye, whose breakout 2016 season earned him a five-year, $67.5 million deal. Veteran Barry Church is expected to solidify the back line alongside Tashaun Gipson. Jacksonville's DBs, who anchored the NFL's fifth-ranked pass defense, will only get better with experience and better support from the offense.

5. New England Patriots: Newcomer Stephon Gilmore is expected to make an impact after fetching the highest average salary on the team save QB Tom Brady. Gilmore and Malcolm Butler should be an excellent corner coupling for a team that frequently finds itself defending the pass as it protects the leads built by the Brady-led offense. Devin McCourty is first-rate in coverage — his background at cornerback helps — but fellow safety Patrick Chung is far more vulnerable.

6. Baltimore Ravens: Eric Weddle and Tony Jefferson could be the best safety combo east of Seattle. CB Jimmy Smith, who needs a bounce-back year, is joined by free agent Brandon Carr and first rounder Marlon Humphrey.

7. Minnesota Vikings: S Harrison Smith has all-pro ability if he can remain healthy. CB Trae Waynes needs to elevate his play to the level of fellow former first rounder Xavier Rhodes. Ageless CB Terence Newman remains a key performer.

8. Kansas City Chiefs: Three-time all-pro S Eric Berry is as talented as he is inspirational. CB Marcus Peters could eventually blossom into the NFL's top corner. But there's a significant drop-off beyond those two.

9. Los Angeles Chargers: CB Jason Verrett was a Pro Bowler in 2015, but a knee injury scuttled his 2016 campaign. He'll team with Casey Hayward, who led the NFL with seven picks last season. S Jahleel Addae doesn't get enough credit.

10. Arizona Cardinals: Perennial Pro Bowl CB Patrick Peterson is a stud. S Tyrann Mathieu is still trying to get back to that level nearly two years removed from his latest major knee injury. Rookie Budda Baker could be an instant presence in sub packages.

11. Los Angeles Rams: CB Trumaine Johnson has never been a Pro Bowler even though he's being paid like one. But he is the biggest name in an underrated group that could make a quantum leap under new DC Wade Phillips.

12. Atlanta Falcons: The Super Bowl meltdown underscored fact this is not "Legion of Boom East" ... yet. Still, a nice core that includes second-year S Keanu Neal and third-year CB Jalen Collins should get a boost from CB Desmond Trufant's return.

13. Tennessee Titans: After struggling mightily in 2016, they scored CB Logan Ryan and S Johnathan Cyprien in free agency before drafting CB Adoree' Jackson in the first round. Holdover CB Brice McCain was a nice surprise, but lots of parts to meld here.

14. Miami Dolphins: Veteran Byron Maxwell was a better fit here than in Philadelphia, but he needs help from some of his greener teammates. S Reshad Jones is one of the league's unsung stars but missing 10 games last year didn't help him earn acclaim.

15. Washington Redskins: CB Josh Norman might not have lived up to his enormous contract during his first year in Washington, but he's a reliable starter at minimum. Third rounder Fabian Moreau could be one of the draft's steals. New S D.J. Swearinger is a wild card, while Su'a Cravens will no longer moonlight as a linebacker.

16. Houston Texans: CB Kevin Johnson, a first-round pick two years ago, needs to stay healthy and assume a more prominent role after this aging group lost A.J. Bouye in free agency. Last year's second-ranked pass defense looks shaky at safety.

17. Detroit Lions: A poor pass rush hurt them significantly as Detroit was burned for a 72.7% completion rate and 106.5 passer rating — both worst in the league. But with S Glover Quin and CB Darius Slay among their ranks, the Lions should be much better.

18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: S J.J. Wilcox joins a tough group anchored by veteran CB Brent Grimes. If last year's first rounder, CB Vernon Hargreaves, makes a significant step forward, so could the entire secondary.

19. Oakland Raiders: GM Reggie McKenzie has invested heavily, drafting S Karl Joseph in Round 1 last year after signing veteran CB Sean Smith and S Reggie Nelson. This year's rookies include first-round CB Gareon Conley and second-round DB Obi Melifonwu. But will proof be in 2017 pudding?

20. Cincinnati Bengals: Adam Jones, 33, remains their best corner ... not part of the plan given Dre Kirkpatrick, Darqueze Dennard and William Jackson III are all recent first rounders, though Jackson could make a splash after a chest injury wiped out his rookie season.

21. Carolina Panthers: Miscalculation or not, they definitely missed Josh Norman as the pass defense dropped from 11th to 29th. At least rookie CBs James Bradberry and Daryl Worley got valuable experience.

22. Cleveland Browns: Production must match the potential, but there's promise. CB Joe Haden is tight when he's right ... but it's been a few years. Offseason additions Jabrill Peppers and Calvin Pryor both have first-round pedigree. Keep an eye on CB Jamar Taylor.

23. Pittsburgh Steelers: Last we saw, Tom Brady was smoking them in the AFC Championship Game, though the failure could have been schematic more than a dearth of talent. Still, they're suspect, especially at safety.

24. New York Jets: An entirely new look after a (needed) purge that included the departure of CB Darrelle Revis. Enter S Jamal Adams, who might have as big an impact as anyone from this year's draft. He'll likely be flanked by fellow rookie Marcus Maye. CB Morris Claiborne comes aboard after five mostly disappointing seasons in Dallas.

25. Green Bay Packers: No issue at safety, where Morgan Burnett and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix form a potent one-two punch. But the corners were shredded far too often, most notably by Matt Ryan in the NFC Championship Game. Rookie Kevin King and a clean bill of health should help.

26. Dallas Cowboys: Brandon Carr, Barry Church, Mo Claiborne and J.J. Wilcox, who combined for nearly 2,700 snaps in 2016, left in free agency. That leaves CB Orlando Scandrick, S Byron Jones and quite a few questions amid retread and rookie arrivals.

27. Chicago Bears: Incoming veteran S Quintin Demps helps ... a little. The Bears haven't held opposing quarterbacks to a collective passer rating less than 93.5 for an entire season since 2013.

28. Indianapolis Colts: Former mainstay Vontae Davis had an awful 2016. But it appears his supporting cast has improved with Round 1 S Malik Hooker and Round 2 CB Quincy Wilson.

29. Buffalo Bills: Micah Hyde was a nice signing, and first-round CB Tre'Davious White projects as a solid starter even if he may not have the ceiling of departed Stephon Gilmore. Still, in the midst of a defensive overhaul, expect significant issues.

30. San Francisco 49ers: Former first-rounders Eric Reid and Jimmie Ward haven't justified the hype and now have even more to prove as new DC Robert Saleh becomes the latest hoping to replicate Seattle's scheme.

31. Philadelphia Eagles: S Malcolm Jenkins is steady (and versatile) as they come. But this defense appears exposed at corner and can only hope rookie Sidney Jones (Achilles) is able to contribute this year.

32. New Orleans Saints: After surrendering an NFL single-season record 45 TD passes in 2015, the Saints allowed the most passing yards in the league last year. Round 1 CB Marshon Lattimore is the latest sent into the breach.

© 2017 KING-TV


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