It's a lock that FS Nick Collins will start at safety for the Green Bay Packers. I've had little doubt that SS Atari Bigby would start alongside him, but he is the last remaining unsigned free agent and if he doesn't sign before training camp, he might lose the starting job and never be able to earn it back.
His absence allows rookie S Morgan Burnett to play with the 1st team defense. The topic was brought up on the Cheesehead TV blogcast, which is a great show but I do have to complain that Corey was very unstable while holding up his laptop during the interview with ESPN's Jason Wilde and Elmo. I've had a hard time believing a rookie would start on defense, but Collins did start as a rookie, so I'm becoming open to the idea. Who might be the other starting safety?
Bigby. He was in the Top 10 last year according to Pro Football Focus, and I've come to appreciate him. He's not great in coverage, but he does keep everything in front of him and he's a solid tackler. I'd love to see what he could do if he's fully healthy.
Burnett. When I asked Matt Bowen about it, he said that Burnett has ball skills as a playmaker that cannot be taught. He had some questions about him as a tackler in college, so he might be the anti-SS Aaron Rouse, who was a solid tackler but had no ball skills. Maybe the fact that he's the opposite of Rouse makes him even more appealing.
Will Blackmon and Derrick Martin. Both are pretty similar at this point. They are both former cornerbacks who haven't proven much of anything as players on defense, and are coming off of season ending injuries. They might be better suited as contributors on special teams then on defense. I wouldn't be eager to see either start at safety next season.
Charlie Peprah. After a one-year stint with the Falcons, Peprah returns in 2010 to provide some depth. He was never given a chance on defense, so he (again) might be here more for his play on special teams then anything he could contribute on defense.
Khalil Jones and Anthony Levine. The two undrafted free agents are likely competing for a spot on the practice squad, not the starting lineup. Jones may have a tougher battle since he was originally signed as a WR in 2009.
That's 7 potential players for one starting position, but it's rather thin at the top in terms of starting experience and high draft expectations.
Who should start at strong safety in 2010?
Atari Bigby (413 votes)
Morgan Burnett (754 votes)
Someone else (27 votes)
1194 total votes