NFL's best defensive backs at 25 different skills: What Trevon Diggs, Jalen Ramsey, Derwin James Jr., Tyrann Mathieu do at an elite level

The NFL's most complete cornerback. The best blitzing safety. The players with the most range to find the ball in the air. Even the best ball hawks. It's time for the sixth edition of the Shutdown Index, in which I pick the NFL's best defensive backs in 25 different categories. Of course Trevon Diggs -- who leads the NFL with 10 interceptions -- makes an appearance, but you'll also find Tyrann Mathieu, Jalen Ramsey and Justin Simmons. Darius Slay, who has had a resurgent 2021 season, is on the list, along with a few under-the-radar defensive backs who have stellar traits.

With seven seasons of experience in an NFL secondary, I look for specific traits when breaking down cornerbacks and safeties, including physicality, eye discipline, range over the top and proper technique. Consistency, versatility and the ability to make plays on the ball are key traits, too. I want to see production. Let's make plays. I poured through the game tape and found the players who best represent excellence in important aspects of the game.

Here are the best of the best in every area that matters for defensive backs, including ball skills, man-coverage traits, closing speed, blitz ability, run defense and much more. And we'll start with the league's top overall secondary unit this season.

Shutdown Index archives:
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Best secondary

New England Patriots