The AFC South has a stable group of quality starting safeties.
Overall, the division has one of the best at the position along with proven veterans and young players who have the ability to make a name for themselves this season.
For this list, I took the starting safeties from each team. Let’s take a look at how they rank:
Rodney Thomas II ended up being a pleasant surprise to the Indianapolis Colts after selecting him in the seventh round of the 2022 NFL draft. In his rookie season, he finished with 52 tackles (34 solo), six pass deflections and four interceptions.
The 2021 third-round pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars will have a potentially breakout season. In his second season he played in 15 games and amassed 73 tackles (49 solo), one TFL, one QB hit, one sack, 10 pass deflections and three interceptions.
Julian Blackmon only appeared in 35 of 50 games to start his career with the Colts. In his three seasons, he amassed 126 tackles (98 solo), seven TFLs, one sack, one QB hit, nine pass deflections, three interceptions, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.
Amani Hooker has emerged as a quality starting safety for the Tennessee Titans after they selected him in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL draft. He will have to prove he can stay healthy after appearing in just 21 games over the last two. seasons due to multiple injuries.
Rayshawn Jenkins is the veteran secondary leader for the Jacksonville Jaguars. In 2022, he had his career-highs for tackles (116), pass deflections (12) and forced fumbles (three). It also happened to be the first time in his NFL career that he forced a fumble and he did so three times.
Jimmie Ward is entering his 10th NFL season and will play his first season with the Houston Texans after following the DeMeco Ryans from the San Francisco 49ers. After playing cornerback in 2022, Ward hopes to return to a safety role for his defense.
The Houston Texans selected Jalen Pitre with the 37th overall pick in the 2022 NFL draft and he made an immediate impact as a rookie. As a freshman, he finished with 147 tackles (99 solo), five TFLs, one sack, one QB hit, eight pass deflections, five interceptions and one fumble recovery.
Kevin Byard is one of four players with 245+ tackles, 25+ passes defensed and 10+ interceptions since 2020. He has been named an All-Pro player twice in his seven-year career.