In order to play Defensive Back in the NFL, one must possess speed, toughness, agility, smarts, athleticism, the ability to change directions on a dime and an ability to forget the previous play. The goal of the secondary is to have a short memory of the previous play and the ability to force a team's offense to try and run the ball. As a Defensive Back, you play the one position that, if you get beat, its all over the replay video. Everyone sees the mistake live as it is happening. It takes a skillful player to make an impact in the secondary let alone do it well enough to have a long career. Many secondaries are overhauled every season.
To qualify for this list, a team must have more than one impact player at the Cornerback or Safety Position. In fact, most of the units that make this list will have at least three if not all four positions making the star list. Individual talent will also be allotted for, how the secondary played as an entire unit, defensive rankings while playing as a unit, statistics against the pass, and of course championships will be a necessity to make the top five on the list.
15) Miami Dolphins (1997-2005)
In 1999, the tandem of Buckley and Madison racked up 10 Interceptions for over 170 Yards, 1 touchdown, 1 Forced Fumble and 70 Tackles. Brock Marion contributed 1 sack and 2 Interceptions from the Safety position as well as 90 total tackles. Surtain, in only his second season had 2 Interceptions and 35 Tackles alone. In 2000, it all came together for the Dolphins Defense, who carried the team to a 11-5 record, first in the AFC East, before bowing out in the playoffs. While Buckley was injured and out for the year, Brian Walker joined the fold as a free agent and played absolutely tremendous, recording 7 Interceptions, 2 Forced Fumbles and 60 Tackles. Fellow safety Brock Marion chipped in 5 Interceptions, and 72 Tackles. Patrick Surtain and Sam Madison each had 5 Interceptions and had 70 Tackles combined. This defense could have won a championship but never did.
While 2001 was a down year for the unit, they still combined for 5 Defensive Touchdowns and led the Fish to a second place finish in the AFC EAST. 2002 saw the unit combine for 14 Interceptions and a Touchdown. 2003 saw Buckley return from two major injures and that Secondary put up huge numbers with the addition of Strong Safety, Sammy Knight: 18 Interceptions, 2 Touchdowns, 5 Forced Fumbles, and over 300 Tackles. For the life of this secondary, the team put up some astounding numbers. The unit had over 80 Interceptions, 10 TD's, 15 Forced Fumbles and over 700 Tackles. The reason they are so low on the list is only because they did not win a championship.
14) Philadelphia Eagles (1985-1992)
Of course, this Unit is most known for it's ferocious Defensive Line, which consisted of Reggie White (Greatest Defensive End All-Time), Clyde Simmons (Perennial Pro-Bowler Defensive End), Jerome Brown (Could have been the Greatest Pure Defensive Tackle if his life was not cut short in a motor vehicle accident), Mike Golic (Star Tackle that played with reckless abandon). Of course, the Linebackers were almost on the same level with Seth Joyner, Byron Evans, William Thomas. Hell, even the backups could have been starters on any other team: Mike Pitts, Andy Harmon, Britt Hagar, and the list goes on.
But the most unsung unit of this group had to be the Secondary. The unit consisted of Eric Allen (CB), Wes Hopkins (FS), Andre Waters (SS), and Izel Jenkins (CB). Throughout this time period, there were other great players that complimented the unit including Ben Smith (CB), Rich Miano (S), Otis Smith (CB), Terry Hoage (S), Roynell Young (CB), and Mark McMillan (CB). The Eagles Secondary of this era was ferocious and always lived by the motto "Bend But Don't Break." This Defensive Juggernaut was responsible for some of the most famous games of that time period including the "Body Bag" game, a game in which eight Redskins left the game due to injury and Running Back Brian Mitchell had to play Quarterback the rest of the game. There was also Bounty Bowl vs. the Dallas Cowboys. And who could forget the "House of Pain" Game vs. the Houston Oilers and their high powered Run and Shoot Offense. In that Game, the Eagles won 13-6, in which the team had 4 Sacks, 6 Forced Fumbles (5 were Recovered) and Andre Waters and Wes Hopkins knocked out all four of the Houston Oilers wide receivers.
From 1988-1994, Cornerback Eric Allen racked up 35 Interceptions, 5 Touchdowns (Including 4 in 1993 alone), 5 Fumble Recoveries, and 391 Tackles. He is a member of the Eagles Hall of Fame. Andre Waters began his career as a safety for the Eagles in 1984. By 1986 he became the Starting Strong Safety for the team. From 1986-1993, Waters had 900 Tackles, 15 Interceptions, 10 Fumble Recoveries, and 1 touchdown. Waters will always be known as one of the most hard hitting safeties in NFL History. Wes Hopkins was the other Eagles Safety. During his 10 Year Career with the Eagles, he had 30 Interceptions, 12 Sacks, 16 Fumble Recoveries and over 650 Tackles. And then look at the other cast of the secondary that combined for 36 Interceptions, 745 Tackles, 5 Fumble Recoveries, and 3 Touchdowns. In case you are adding, that is 116 Interceptions, 2686 Tackles, 36 Fumble Recoveries, 9 Touchdowns and 12 Sacks during that era...pretty sick numbers.
13) New England Patriots (2000-2007)
Of course, the Secondary of that time period was lead by Cornerback Ty Law and Safety Rodney Harrison. The unit also consisted of Lawyer Milloy (SS), Asante Samuel (CB), Otis Smith (CB), Tebucky Jones (FS), Terrell Buckley (for a very short time), Eugene Wilson (FS), and Duane Starks (DB) among some other smaller names. Ok, so here is where people may try and argue about this Secondary making the list. They may not have all of the Statistics that many of these other teams had, but they produced results on the field that were mind boggling, leading to 3 Super Bowl wins in Seven Years and a Fourth Super Bowl, in which the team finished the regular season with a perfect record and ended with a last minute miracle loss to the New York Giants, which would have been it's 4th SuperBowl Title. So we cannot argue results.
Cornerback Ty Law was the unheralded leader of this era and was key to helping the team win three SuperBowls. During Law's 10 Seasons with the Patriots, he recorded 40 Interceptions, 6 Defensive Touchdowns, 5 Fumble Recoveries, 539 Tackles and 3 Super Bowl Rings. After leaving the Patriots, Law added another 17 Interceptions to his resume. Law was the member of the Secondary that stirred the Drink. The other half of this great combo at Cornerback was Asante Samuel. From 2003-2006, Samuel recorded 16 Interceptions, 2 Touchdowns, and and 168 Tackles. He was known as a shutdown Cornerback that no one wanted any piece of. Samuel won two rings. From 2000-2002, Smith chipped in 7 Interceptions, 2 Touchdowns, and over 150 Tackles. He also won one ring.
Ok, so now let us switch gears to Safety. Rodney Harrison may be in a Top 10 List of all-time safeties when it is all said and done. Harrison was sometimes known as a dirty player on the field that played with reckless abandon. Rodney joined the New England Patriots in 2003 as a Free Agent at Strong Safety. Harrison had already carved a niche as being one of the toughest and stingiest safeties in the league. From 2003-2006, Harrison recorded 9 Sacks, Had 6 Interceptions, 2 Fumble Recoveries, and 231 Tackles. Oh, and he also lead the team to Back to Back Super Bowl wins in 2003 and 2004 as well as helping the Patriots get to two other Super Bowls before his career ended. Rodney Harrison was also not that big on the stat sheet, but the results truly showed on the field. So if you look at these players that were a part of that unit, they have a combined 10 Super Bowl Rings. That is an enormous stat and that is why this team makes the list.
12) Philadelphia Eagles (1996-2004)
The top player on this list is Safety, Brian Dawkins. It is hard to think of the Philadelphia Eagles and not mention Brian Dawkins in the conversation. Dawkins will definitely be a first ballot Hall of Famer and makes my Top 5 All-Time List of Safeties. Dawkins did more on the field than just put up statistics. He embodied everything about a Defensive Back that you would want. He was even nicknamed "The Wolverine." Dawkins possessed speed, toughness, grit, hard hitting, quick reflexes and a leadership quality on the field that is so rare in the NFL today. From 1996, when he was drafted in the 2nd round as the Eagles Free Safety until 2008, Dawkins was the Eagle's ultimate weapon on Defense. During his 13 Seasons with the Eagles, Dawkins racked up 20 Sacks, 34 Interceptions, 2 Touchdowns, 17 Fumble Recoveries including 1 that he scored on, 707 Solo Tackles, plus another 191 Assisted Tackles, 9 Pro Bowls, 5 NFC Championships and 1 Super Bowl.
Troy Vincent came to the Eagles as a Free Agent Cornerback in 1996 after 4 seasons with the Miami Dolphins. During his career with the Eagles, Vincent was a 5 Time Pro Bowler. Troy racked up 28 Interceptions (Including a Career High 7 in 1999), Had 6 Fumble Recoveries, 6 Sacks and 474 Tackles. Vincent also scored 2 Touchdowns during his career as an Eagle. He was one of the best Shut Down corners of that era. Bobby Taylor was drafted in 1995 in the second round. During his nine seasons with the Eagles, Taylor had 19 Interceptions, 11 Fumble Recoveries, 2 Touchdowns, and 314 Tackles. He was also a top shut down corner in the NFL.
Then in 2002, the Eagles had to address their two aging Cornerbacks Troy Vincent and Bobby Taylor, so they drafted Lito Shepherd and Sheldon Brown with back to back picks in the 2002 Draft with their first and second picks. In Shepherd's 7 seasons as an Eagle, he had 18 Interceptions and scored 3 Touchdowns. Brown played 8 seasons for the Eagles and had 19 Interceptions, 4 Defensive Touchdowns and was the other leader of the unit along with Brian Dawkins. During this era, the other Eagles Defensive Backs did a great job as well helping this team during its glory days and finally making the SuperBowl in 2004. Although this unit did not win a Championship, they were stellar from top to bottom and did at lead the team to 5 NFC Championships under Andy Reid.
11) Denver Broncos (1989-1996)
Defense wins Championships and it was no different with the Denver Broncos. Moreover, Denver had one of the most ferocious secondaries ever assembled and that unit was the captain of the Defense. The Defensive Backfield was led by it's captain, Steve Atwater(FS). Steve Atwater, like Brian Dawkins, was the team leader of the Denver Broncos and he constituted the same energy on and off the field just like Dawkins. During his tenure in Denver, which lasted ten seasons, Atwater showed his face all over the map. From 1989-1998, he was the face of the Defense. Atwater was drafted in the 1st Round of the 89' Draft out of Arkansas. He was an 8 Time Pro-Bowler and 2 Time Super Bowl Champion. During that ten year career, he compiled 24 Interceptions, 5 Sacks, 8 Fumble Recoveries, and 1034 Solo Tackles. He also scored 2 touchdowns and was a key component in both of Denver's Super Bowl wins.
The other half of that fearsome Denver Secondary was Dennis Smith. Smith was not the same type of player as Atwater, but he was the total compliment for their defense. Smith spent his entire career with the Broncos; and although he did not partake in the two Super Bowl wins, he was a key cog in Denver's Defensive Unit from 1981 as a First Round Pick, until 1994 when he retired. Smith groomed Atwater and was his eyes and ears. In 14 Seasons with the Broncos, Smith had 30 Interceptions, 17 Fumble Recoveries, 2 Touchdowns, and 1152 Tackles. Smith was a 6 Time Pro Bowler and embodied the role of strong man, playing in 184 Games during his career as a Strong Safety.
Tyrone Braxton was began his career as a Cornerback and finished it as a Safety. He played both positions with the same energy and was the third Member of this fearsome unit. During his 12 Year Career (spent one year with the Dolphins), Braxton compiled 35 Interceptions, 4 Touchdowns, 10 Fumble Recoveries and 748 Tackles. Braxton, unlike Atwater and Smith was a player that came out of nowhere, being drafted in the 12th Round of the 1987 Draft. He made the Pro Bowl in 1996 and was another key component of the Bronco's Super Bowl wins. Ray Crockett, Wymon Henderson, Darien Gordon and Charles Dimry all played backup roles on this star studded secondary.
10) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1998-2005)
Tampa's Defensive Success began in 1998, as the team went 8-8. Yes the team finished third in the division, but that was due to the lack of offense, not defense. The team was led by Middle Linebacker Derrick Brooks who had 123 tackles that season. The secondary consisted of a rookie Ronde Barber(CB), Donnie Abraham (CB), Charles Mincy(FS), and John Lynch(SS). At age 27, Lynch had already made a name for himself as one of the best all around safeties in the league. In 1998, Lynch had 2 Sacks/2 Interceptions/1 Fumble Recovery/50 Tackles. Ronde Barber started 9 games at Corner that season and established himself as one of the best cover cornerbacks in the league. Free Safety Charles Mincy led the team with 4 Interceptions and a touchdown.
In 1999, Tampa became one of the Top Dogs in the NFC, finishing the season with an 11-5 record. The team finished with 21 Interceptions and 2 Touchdowns, while being fifth against the pass. Donnie Abraham had 7 Interceptions and scored twice alone. This was just the beginning. In 2000, the Buc's added to their fabulous secondary, this time posting 25 Interceptions (7 by Abraham again) and 4 Touchdowns. Ronde Barber also scored on a Fumble Recovery, giving Tampa 5 Defensive Touchdowns. John Lynch had another Pro Bowl season at Strong Safety. In 2001, Ronde Barber led the league with 10 Interceptions and a Touchdown, as well as recording 58 Tackles en route to a Pro Bowl. Derrick Brooks, John Lynch, and Warren Sapp joined Barber at the Pro Bowl that season.
And then it happened. Tampa Bay...once the doormat of the NFL...as the team went 12-4 and earned a playoff bye. The 2001 Buccaneers were led by their secondary compiling some overwhelming statistics. The team had 43 Sacks/31 Interceptions/4 Touchdowns/494 Yards on returns/16 Fumble Recoveries/Fumble returned for a touchdown. In the Divisional Round, the Buccaneers made mince meat out of the high flying San Francisco 49ers 31-6. In that game, the Defense had 3 Interceptions, and only allowed 193 Yards Passing. The following week, the Bucs went to Philly where all of the talk was Tampa had never won a cold weather game. Well, throw that out the window. Tampa stunned Philly at the Vet, 27-10. No one will ever forget Ronde Barber returning an errant Donovan McNabb pass 92 Yards for the final score. And then, in the Super Bowl, the Bucs had 5 Interceptions and Dexter Jackson was named Super Bowl MVP. The Defense went on to have a few more dominating seasons after 2001.
9) Dallas Cowboys (1990-1997)
In 1992, Dallas won their first of three Super Bowls. That team was led by safety James Washington. He had 3 Interceptions to go along with 95 Tackles. In that Super Bowl, the Cowboys dominated the Buffalo Bills , winning 52-17. The team had 2 Fumble returns for touchdowns and picked of jim Kelly 4 times. Then in 1993, the Cowboys were led by Strong Safety Darren Woodson, who had 155 Tackles and 3 Fumble Recoveries. Once again, that secondary dominated the star studded Bill's offense and won 30-13. In 1994, Darren Woodson and James Washington became one of the most dominant safety pairings, each recording 5 Interceptions for a Touchdown and had 58 and 57 Tackles respectively. Larry Brown added 4 Interceptions and made Quarterbacks think twice about throwing his way.
In 1995, the Cowboys secondary would lead them to a championship. The team added Cornerback Deion Sanders to a cast of Darren Woodson, James Washington, Brock Marion, and Larry Brown. In that Super Bowl, the Cowboys secondary picked off Steelers Quarterback Neil Oddonnell three times, including Larry Brown twice as he won the Super Bowl MVP. This secondary had a few more successful seasons and the reason they make the list is not only the Super Bowl Championships,but also how they played as a unit in those games.
8) Pittsburgh Steelers (1973-1980)
This secondary was compromised of J.T. Smith, Donnie Shell, Mel Blount, and Mike Wagner. These group of players were able to rise to the occasion consistently and make big plays that would put the ball back in their high flying offensive juggernauts' hands. Mel Blount was a physical corner that could also intercept passes with precision. He played his entire 14 year Career with the Steelers. During those 14 seasons, Blount played in 200 Games, had 57 Interceptions, 4 Fumble Recoveries and 4 Defensive Touchdowns, 5 Pro Bowls and eventually the Hall of Fame. Of course, tackles were not an official stat during the 70's, but NFL analysts are quite sure that he easily had over 1,000 for his career. In 19 Playoff Games, Blount had 4 Interceptions and 2 Fumble Recoveries.
The other half of the Cornerback tandem was Mike Wagner. Wagner was drafted in 1971and played 10 Seasons as the Steelers other Cornerback. Wagner had 36 Interceptions for his career as well as 5 Fumble Recoveries. Wagner was even more potent in the playoffs where he posted 5 Interceptions and 1 Fumble Recovery for a touchdown in 14 Games. Wagner made 2 Pro Bowls and had a career high 8 picks in 1973. At Safety, Pittsburgh was led by Donnie Shell who was drafted in 1974, their first Super Bowl season. For his career, Shell had 51 Interceptions for 2 Touchdowns, 19 Fumble Recoveries and 2 more touchdowns. Shell made 5 Pro Bowls as well and was a Hall of Fame finalist.
The final piece of this stellar secondary was Free Safety J.T. Smith. For his career, Smith had 19 Interceptions with the Steelers as well as 2 Fumble Recoveries of which he scored on both. He was a one time Pro Bowler that brought true grit to the safety position. All 4 of these players were physical, which brought even more swagger to an already dominant defense. They definitely paved the way for the Steelers 4 Super Bowl Championships of the 70's.
7) Dallas Cowboys (1970-1980)
This Defensive Backs unit was quick, intelligent, athletic and downright mean. This secondary consisted of Cornell Green, Dennis Thurman, Mel Renfro, Cliff Harris and Charlie Waters. Renfro to this day remains the Cowboys all-time leader in interceptions and was inducted into the Hall of Fame. Renfro was drafted by the Cowboys out of Oregon in the second round. For his career, Renfro recorded 52 Interceptions (including a career high 10 in 1969), 3 touchdowns and 13 fumble Recoveries. In 21 Playoff Games, Renfro had 4 Picks and 3 fumble recoveries. Renfro began his career at safety and then transitioned to cornerback, where he was better suited. Renfro made 10 Pro Bowls en route to his Hall of Fame career.
Cornell Green, a basketball player in high school, was a 5x Pro Bowler at cornerback. In 13 seasons as the cornerback for the Cowboys, Green recorded 34 Interceptions for 2 Touchdowns as well as 7 fumble Recoveries for 2 scores. At 6'3" and 208 Pounds, Green was one of the first "Tall Cornerbacks." His height gave him the ability to leap and jump high, thus making quarterbacks hesitate to throw his way. Cliff Harris and Charlie Waters were both versatile safeties. Harris had 29 Interceptions, forced 10 fumbles, and had 18 recoveries in his career. In 18 career playoff games, he chipped in 6 Interceptions and 4 Fumble Recoveries.
Waters was a physical specimen at Strong Safety. He had 41 career interceptions and 2 touchdowns. He also forced 4 Fumbles and recovered 7. However; he did most of his damage where it counted, the playoffs. Waters had a once playoff record 9 Interceptions in 22 Playoff Games, an incredible number. The final member of this glorious group was Dennis Thurman. He came on later and had a career total of 3 Sacks, 36 Interceptions, 4 Touchdowns, and 11 fumble recoveries for another score. He also came up large in the playoffs with 7 Interceptions with one score in 14 Games. Thurman was also credited for grooming Cowboys legend Everson Walls.
6) Green Bay Packers (1960-1970)
Willie Wood was an 8x Pro Bowler and a member of the Hall of Fame. He came to the Packers out of USC. Wood had 48 career interceptions and 2 touchdowns. He also had 16 Fumble Recoveries to lead the Packers Secondary. He played in all of Green Bay's playoff wins. Herb Adderley was another star defensive back on the team. Adderley had 39 picks for an unheard of 7 scores. He also had 13 fumble recoveries for the Pack. Adderley chipped in 4 Interceptions and a touchdown in 9 playoff games for Green Bay. He spent his first nine seasons with Green Bay before moving on to the Dallas Cowboys. He was a 5x Pro Bowler and is also a member of the NFL Hall of Fame.
The other important member of this trio was Bob Jeter. Who??? No, not Derek Jeter...it is Bob Jeter. Jeter had 23 Interceptions and two touchdowns in 8 seasons with the Pack. He led the NFL in Interceptions in both 1966 and 1967. He was a 2x Pro Bowler who knew how to play physical. Quarterbacks rarely threw his way. He is what we would call a cover corner today. Willie Wood had the first interception in Super Bowl history. In Super Bowl II, Adderley returned the first ever interception for a touchdown in Super Bowl history. And out of the three, Jeter was the most physical.
5) San Francisco 49ers (1980-1990)
First of all, Ronnie Lott may not just be the best safety of all-time, he may well be the best defensive back in NFL history. Lott struck fear and intimidation into the hearts of other teams. Lott may be the most physical and dominant safety in history as well. In 126 Games for the 49ers, Lott had 5.5 Career Sacks, 51 career interceptions, 5 Touchdowns, 8 Forced Fumbles and 12 Fumble Recoveries. In 19 Playoff Games, Lott had 8 picks and 2 scores. Lott is a 10x Pro Bowler, Hall of Famer, 6x First All-Teamer, and had a career high 10 Interceptions in 1986.
Wright had 18 Interceptions at the CornerBack position. He also scored twice on picks. In 12 Playoff Games, Wright had 3 more picks, one of which was important in sealing one of the 49ers 5 Super Bowls. He was a 2x Pro Bowler and played cornerback like he was a safety. Hicks was the other super safety in the 49ers arsenal. Hicks compiled 30 Interceptions, 3 Touchdowns, and also recovered 14 Fumbles with a score. He had 3 Interceptions in 9 Playoff Games. He was a 4x Pro Bowler and 4x Super Bowl Champion.
In only 4 seasons with the 49ers, Tim McKyer had 16 Interceptions and a touchdown. He chipped in 2 more picks during the playoffs before leaving the Niners for free agency. The final piece of this ultimate secondary was Don Griffin. Griffin was another physical specimen that made receivers pay that went over the middle. He was also a great cover 2 cornerback. Griffin had 22 career interceptions as well as 9 Fumble Recoveries and 1 Touchdown. He had 338 Tackles in a 49ers uniform. He was the ultimate compliment to the other members of this fearsome defensive backs unit.
4) Baltimore Ravens (2000-2010)
From Dwayne Starks, to Ed Reed, to Chris Mcallister, to Rod Woodson, to Samari Role, to Corey Ivy and Dawan Landry, the Ravens led the league or were at the top against the pass for the entire decade. Rod Woodson came to the Ravens in 1998 and was super instrumental in their Championship run. He was an 11x Pro Bowler including twice with the Ravens, and had 20 Interceptions in only 3 seasons with the Ravens, scoring 5 Times. Ed Reed is right up there in conversation with Ronnie Lott as one of if not the best safeties of all-time.
Reed had 61 career Interceptions with the Ravens, 6 Sacks, 7 Touchdowns, 11 Forced Fumbles, 13 Fumble Recoveries, 2 Touchdowns, and 504 Tackles. Reed also has 9 Career Playoff Interceptions, including 1 for a score. He was a 9x Pro Bowler and is now in the Hall of Fame all Decade. Starks played a few seasons and had one of the most memorable interception returns in Super Bowl history in 2000, when he had a pick six against Kerry Collins. Chris McAllister was the Ravens lead cornerback for years and made four pro bowls. Samari Rolle and Corey Ivy also provided some stellar seasons. The reason Baltimore ranks so high on this list, even with only winning one championship, was the success and longevity of the unit. They may have been the most consistent secondary of all-time.
3) Detroit Lions (1960-1970)
Dick "Night Train" Lane was a physical specimen rarely seen during this time period and he was tougher than nails. During his entire career, Lane had 68 Interceptions including 14 in a 12 game season which still stands as a record. He was a 7x Pro Bowler and is a member of the Hall of Fame. Dick Lebeau, another tough cornerback, was a no nonsense kind of player. Lebeau had 62 career interceptions, 9 fumble recoveries, and 5 Defensive Touchdowns. Lebeau was a 3x Pro Bowler and also is a member of the Hall of Fame.
Finally, Lem Barney was the third cornerback of this triumvirate. Barney had 57 career interceptions, 17 Fumble Recoveries and 7 Defensive Touchdowns. He was a 7x Pro Bowler and is the third member of this group to make the Hall of Fame. That is quite an accomplishment and goes a long way to putting them so high on the list. This group may not have won a Championship; however, they sure knew how to pick off the opposing teams quarterback and would have won, if not for their terrible offense.
2) Seattle Seahawks (2010-2015)
Well, you do not have to look past this past season to see how dominant the Seattle Seahawks secondary has been. First of all, they were first against the pass two years in a row in 2013 and 2014. Secondly, as a unit collectively, they led the Seattle defense with grit and star prowess. This was not just a total defense with a nickname, this is a Secondary with it's own nickname..."The Legion of Boom." I remember back to the 1990's in Philadelphia where the Philadelphia Flyers had a line called "The Legion of Doom." Well, the Seattle Seahawks have had that same presence on the football field the past five seasons. Their secondary consists of Richard Sherman, Byron Maxwell, Brandon Browner, Kam Chancellor, and Earl Thomas.
Three of the members of this secondary are above 6'3" in height and are able to dominate what has become a super passing league. They are not only physical, but they make teams try and run the ball, even teams with bad rushing attacks. Let us start with Cornerback Richard Sherman. Sherman was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in the 5th Round of the 2011 NFL Draft out of Stanford. Sherman is a physical specimen at 6'3" and 195 Pounds. He combines toughness, attitude and speed on the field and he brings swagger to the Defense. So far early in his career, he has already made the Pro Bowl 3x. In just 64 games, Sherman has 24 Interceptions for 2 Touchdowns. He also has 5 Forced Fumbles, 3 Fumble Recoveries, and 195 Tackles. But most importantly, Sherman has a Super Bowl ring from 2013, when the Seattle Defense embarrassed Denver's offense, one of the most prolific offenses in NFL history.
Kam Chancellor was drafted in the same round as Sherman a year earlier. Chancellor is more Chancellor was drafted as a Cornerback and then transitioned to Strong Safety after Sherman was drafted. Chancellor is 6'3" and 232 Pounds. He is a brick wall at safety and also possesses speed to stop other teams top wide receivers. He is also a 3x Pro Bowler that has compiled 8 Interceptions, 6 Forced Fumbles, and 312 Tackles. Byron Maxwell is Seattle's other Cornerback. Maxwell is unheralded and underrated. Maxwell was drafted one round later than Sherman in the same draft. He played college for Clemson and was not one of the big name Corners to enter the NFL that season. However, at 6' Tall and 202 Pounds, Maxwell provides the punch to Sherman's pack. So far, in his early career, Maxwell has 6 Interceptions and 78 Tackles. Maxwell forced a fumble early on in the team's Super Bowl demolition of the Broncos.
Brandon Browner was a huge force on this unit before he was suspended. Browner ironically was an un drafted free agent that signed with the Seahawks in 2011. Browner is also 6'4" and 232 Pounds. Browner had 10 Interceptions/2 Touchdowns/3 Forced Fumbles/1 Fumble Recovery and 104 Tackles and the Super Bowl ring with the Seahawks, before leaving as a free agent for New England who ironically beat Seattle in the 2014 Super Bowl. Earl Thomas was the only highly touted member of this entire group as he was drafted by the Seahawks with the 14th Pick of the 2010 First Round. Thomas immediately paid dividends to the team as he was such a physical force all over the field. Thomas is a 4x Pro Bowler who shines on the biggest stage against the best teams. For his career, Thomas has 16 Interceptions/1 Touchdown/ 9 Forced Fumbles/4 Fumble Recoveries and 341 Tackles at the Free Safety position. Seattle as young as they are easily has the chance to become the greatest secondary in NFL History.
1) Oakland Raiders (1970-1980)
Not only did their secondary have nicknames, but each player on this secondary had a nickname. Skip Thomas was known as "Doctor Death" despite his small size. Thomas was drafted by the Raiders in the 7th Round of the 1972 Draft out of USC. In only six seasons, which were cut short by injury, Thomas had 17 Interceptions and 1 Touchdown. At 6'1 and 205 Pounds, He played more like a linebacker just like Ronnie Lott and Brian Dawkins of the present. He hit every person that touched the ball. George Atkinson was drafted by the Oakland Raiders in 1968 in the 7th Round. Atkinson also was a punt/kick returner for a few seasons as well as the team's Strong Safety. For his career, Atkinson compiled 30 Interceptions/2 Touchdowns/13 Fumble Recoveries and 2 Touchdowns. Atkinson made two Pro Bowls during his career with the Raiders and had 3 Playoff Interceptions, including one for a return. He also returned 3 kicks for touchdowns and had 3,140 All-Purpose Return Yards in his career. He is also known for knocking Steelers wide receiver Lynn Swan out on several occasions.
Jack Tatum, another Safety was known as the "The Assassin." Tatum was drafted in the 1st Round of the 1971 Draft; 19th overall. During his career, Tatum was a 3x Pro Bowler. In his nine years at Free Safety, Tatum had 30 Interceptions/10 Forced Fumbles/10 Fumble Recoveries and a Touchdown. In 12 Playoff Games, Tatum had 2 Interceptions. He received his nickname for knocking out many of the leagues toughest receivers and tight ends. No team would pass over the middle on Tatum's watch. Finally, Willie Brown was on the other side at Cornerback. Brown was probably known as the first "shutdown cornerback" in NFL History. He was an un drafted free agent that quickly made a name for himself. During his twelve years in Oakland, Brown had 39 Interceptions/2 Touchdowns/4 Fumble Recoveries and at least 1,000 Tackles. Brown is a 9x Pro Bowler and a member of the NFL Hall of Fame. He had 54 Interceptions for his career, including the most important one in Super Bowl XI, returning a pass 75 Yards for a Touchdown. Although this unit only won one Super Bowl together, they made a name for themselves as "The Soul Patrol" and to this day remain the greatest NFL Secondary of all time.