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Antoine Winfield Jr. and Kyle Hamilton top NFL safety rankings from coaches and executives

Antoine Winfield Jr. and Kyle Hamilton top NFL safety rankings from coaches and executives
Antoine Winfield Jr. and Kyle Hamilton top NFL safety rankings from coaches and executives

After signing a contract extension that makes him the highest-paid safety in NFL history, Tampa Bay Buccaneers star Antoine Winfield Jr. is officially recognized as the best player at his position.

In an annual poll conducted by ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, NFL coaches, executives and scouts ranked Winfield as the league’s best safety for the 2024 season. Baltimore Ravens safety Kyle Hamilton took the second spot, with the rest of the top 10 as follows:

  1. Antoine Winfield Jr. (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
  2. Kyle Hamilton (Baltimore Ravens)
  3. Jessie Bates III (Atlanta Falcons)
  4. Minkah Fitzpatrick (Pittsburgh Steelers)
  5. Jevon Holland (Miami Dolphins)
  6. Budda Baker (Arizona Cardinals)
  7. Derwin James Jr. (Los Angeles Chargers)
  8. Kyle Dugger (New England Patriots)
  9. Talanoa Hufanga (San Francisco 49ers)
  10. Xavier McKinney (Green Bay Packers)

Winfield had a stellar 2023 season with six sacks, six forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries and three interceptions. He was rewarded in May with a four-year, $84.1 million contract that includes $45 million guaranteed, the largest guarantee a safety receives.

Fowler noted that the Bucs found a way to free up the 25-year-old by having him play more in the post last year after he played primarily at the nickelback position in 2022.

“He had more potential as a single-high defender to take away throws with his instincts, range and creating turnovers,” an NFC executive told Fowler. “He was already excellent in run support and as a blitzer, so it was a perfect combination.”

Hamilton was praised for his versatility, as he was the only player in the top 10 to record at least 10 tackles for loss (10) and 10 pass deflections (13) last season. He also finished with four interceptions and three sacks.

“The ultimate Swiss Army knife that was used in every way possible last season,” said one NFC scout. “He was a defender that opposing offenses had to be aware of on every snap.”

The safeties in the top 10 hope to perform well again in the 2024 season.