We continue our AFC West position-by-position rankings with the secondary. It is an outstanding group and is one of the strongest in the division:
1. Nnamdi Asomugha, Oakland: He is a treat to watch. He’s simply a master of his art.
2. Champ Bailey, Denver: Bailey should be a shoo-in, first-ballot hall of famer. He’s brilliant. The only reason why Asomugha is listed higher than Bailey is that Bailey will be 32 this season and Asomugha will be 29.
3. Brian Dawkins, Denver: He’s still at the top of his game at the age of 36. Another hall of famer.
4. Quentin Jammer, San Diego: He gets lost because of Asomugha and Bailey. But Jammer is a shut-down corner himself. He’s the quiet leader of a good secondary.
5. Brandon Flowers, Kansas City: You may not know much about this third-year player. But you will. Flowers is outstanding.
6. Tyvon Branch, Oakland: This is another third-year standout. Branch broke out last year with 124 tackles.
7. Eric Weddle, San Diego: He is another fine safety. Weddle gets better each year. He’s a big-league playmaker.
8. Eric Berry, Kansas City: I wouldn’t be surprised if Berry was in the top four next year. The No. 5 overall draft pick is a star waiting to happen.
9. Andre Goodman, Denver: Goodman is an underrated player. He fits in with Denver’s veteran unit.
10. Renaldo Hill, Denver: The same goes for Hill. He’s not a special player, but he’s a fine pro.
11. Antoine Cason, San Diego: This is a big year for the Chargers’ No. 1 pick in 2008. He is taking over for the traded Antonio Cromartie. I think Cason will become steadier and more reliable than Cromartie in a hurry.
12. Brandon Carr, Kansas City: Carr is a big reason why the Chiefs are so excited about their secondary. He’s a feisty No. 2 corner.
13. Michael Huff, Oakland: Huff tried to salvage his career last year. The No. 7 overall pick in 2007 is OK, but far from special.
14. Steve Gregory, San Diego: He always seems to help the Chargers when they need it. Gregory has limitations, but he can contribute.
15. Chris Johnson, Oakland: Johnson is the type of player who teams try to replace, but he’s a steady pro.
16. Alphonso Smith, Denver: The Broncos gave up their 2010 first-round pick to draft him in 2009. After a disappointing rookie season, Smith looks to have a huge year and will get a chance to shine as Denver’s nickel cornerback.
17. Javier Arenas, Kansas City: I’m excited to see this second-round pick play. I think he’ll be a playmaker.
18. Darrell Stuckey, San Diego: The Chargers like their fourth-round pick. He has a chance to start.