Open thread: Is safety an undervalued position in the NFL?

Pride of Detroit

Football as a sport is constantly changing before our eyes. 20-30 years ago, if you didn’t have a stud running back and a good enough offensive line, you probably didn’t have much chance of competing with the best. Today, it’s all about attacking through the air, while there are cases to be made that running back is one of the least valuable positions in today’s NFL.

Positions like quarterback, edge rusher and offensive tackle have generally been thought of as the most important and most valuable positions in the NFL, with wide receiver and cornerback making a much bigger case as teams decide to pass the ball at a growing rate. But where would safety land on that list?

Today’s Question of the Day is…

Is safety an undervalued position in today’s NFL?

It’s difficult to put a definitive measurement on value when it comes to position, but it sparks discussion and certainly makes for an interesting debate. A year ago, Pro Football Focus put together an intriguing study measuring positional value primarily focusing on the NFL Draft.

They took a look at a few different metrics, starting with their Wins Above Replacement (WAR) metric which essentially attempts to map a player’s production to a “wins” value, based on the relative importance of each facet of play, among other things.

In 2020, they found that when limiting their scope to the top 32 players at each position sorted by 2020 WAR, safety landed third-highest on the list behind QB and CB. It makes sense that a dominant safety can have a huge impact on the game and contribute greatly to a team winning a football game with how heavily involved they are in the passing game. They can make life hell for a QB, and when your QB is having a tough go of it, it’s hard to win football games.

Despite this, teams still are very reluctant to draft safeties with the top few picks, or even pay them as much as other positions. According to Overthecap, interior offensive and defensive linemen all make more than safeties on average, which to me is pretty surprising.

So while currently it’s a pretty unpopular and uncommon idea to draft a safety with a top-two pick or pay them as much as an edge rusher, I think that gap is going to start to close eventually, especially now that we’re seeing guys like Derwin James, Marcus Williams, Justin Simmons, among others, greatly impacting games and paving the future for the position.


Is the safety position undervalued?

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