Ranking the NFL's top 10 safeties for 2020: The rise of Jamal Adams

Erik S. Lesser/EPA

Editor's note: This story originally published on July 17, 2020, before the Jets traded Jamal Adams to the Seahawks.

To preview the 2020 NFL season, we asked more than 50 league executives, coaches, scouts and players to help us stack the top 10 players at 11 positions (sorry, special-teamers). The results might surprise you. They surprised me.

Here's how it worked: Voters gave their best 10 to 15 players at a position, then we compiled the results and ranked candidates based on number of top-10 votes, composite average, interviews and research. We had several ties, so we broke them by isolating the two-man matchup with additional voting and follow-up calls. Each section is packed with quotes and nuggets from the voters on every guy -- even the honorable mentions.

The objective is to identify the best players right now for 2020. This is not a five-year projection or an achievement award. Who's the best today? Pretty simple.

We've rolled out a position per day over 11 days. Here's a look back:

Week 1: tight ends (July 7); quarterbacks (July 8); running backs (July 9); wide receivers (July 10); offensive tackles (July 11)

Week 2: interior offensive linemen (July 12); edge defenders (July 13); interior defensive linemen (July 14); off-ball linebackers (July 15); cornerbacks (July 16); safeties (July 17)

Playing safety can seem like an eight-man job in today's NFL. Several of the top players can line up at either safety spot, slot corner, outside linebacker, inside linebacker and shoot T-shirt guns into the crowd in between snaps.

"Hybrid" is a tired term in NFL vernacular, but it absolutely applies to the position.

What complicates voting is style preference: Some execs and coaches prefer the traditional free safety who covers ground, others like the game-plan wrecker who attacks sideline to sideline from the line of scrimmage.

We attempt to meld the two styles for a compelling top 10.