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AFC North 2023 Position Group Rankings: Safety

How do the safety groups stack up in the division?

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

The bulk of NFL free agent signings are now in the rear view as the start of training camp is now here. While some additions could still be forthcoming, we have a good idea of where each AFC North team’s depth chart stands ahead of the 2023 season.

Finishing up our look at each position group on defensive side of the ball, let’s break down the safety spot, where this is high-level talent across the division.

1. Baltimore Ravens

Starters: Marcus Williams, Kyle Hamilton

Depth: Geno Stone, Ar’Darius Washington

The Ravens made no additions at safety this offseason and traded away longtime starter Chuck Clark. Clark started over 60 straight games for the Ravens while playing 100% of defensive snaps, so his departure is not insignificant. The team has a viable in-house replacement, though, in last-year’s No. 14 overall pick Kyle Hamilton.

Hamilton had a promising rookie season as a versatile nickel defender. As a full-time starter now alongside Marcus Williams, one of the top coverage safeties in the league, Hamilton could take another step forward. Geno Stone is a valuable rotational piece who started seven games in 2022. Brandon Stephens, a hybrid defensive back, will see snaps at safety as well, further adding to the overall strength of this group.

2. Pittsburgh Steelers

Starters: Minkah Fitzpatrick, Damontae Kazee

Depth: Keanu Neal, Tre Norwood

Minkah Fitzpatrick is the only mainstay in the Steelers’ secondary returning in 2023. He’s more than capable of shouldering the burden of this unit, though. Fitzpatrick tied for the league-lead in interceptions last season (6) while grading out with the best pass coverage grade of his career. He’s established as one of the league’s best safeties.

The team did not retain Terrell Edmunds this offseason, who will be replaced by Damontae Kazee as the starting strong safety. They also signed veteran Keanu Neal, who has 61 games of starting experience under his belt. The performance from these two opposite Fitzpatrick will ultimately determine the ceiling of this group.

3. Cleveland Browns

Starters: Juan Thornhill, Grant Delpit

Depth: Rodney McLeod, D’Anthony Bell

The Browns replaced Josh Johnson III with Juan Thornhill this offseason while also signing veteran Rodney McLeod. The 33-year-old McLeod had his best career season with the Indianapolis Colts in 2022, showing he still has high-level play left in the tank. Thornhill started 52 games in Kansas City since 2019 and showed playmaking chops.

These are two solid veteran additions, while the returning Grant Delpit started all but one game last season as well. Delpit had over 100 tackles and four interceptions and is still just 24 years old entering his third career season.

4. Cincinnati Bengals

Starters: Nick Scott, Dax Hill

Depth: Michael Thomas, Jordan Battle

No team saw greater loss at the safety position this offseason than the Bengals, who are turning over both starting spots. Jesse Bates III and Vonn Bell departed for the NFC South, so the Bengals will have to replace a combined 127 games started. They signed Nick Scott from the Los Angeles Rams and will start 2022 first-round pick Dax Hill.

Scott is a high-level run defender but has struggled in pass coverage, while Hill is still unproven. The former Michigan product played just 14% of the team’s defensive snaps last season in his rookie year, so his new role in 2023 will be an adjustment. They also drafted Alabama’s Jordan Battle with the No. 95 overall pick this April, who will likely play rotational snaps immediately this season.


Which team has the best safety group in the AFC North?

This poll is closed

  • 89%
    Baltimore Ravens
    (139 votes)
  • 7%
    Pittsburgh Steelers
    (11 votes)
  • 0%
    Cleveland Browns
    (1 vote)
  • 2%
    Cincinnati Bengals
    (4 votes)
155 votes total Vote Now