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Jamal Adams clings to 10th, Quandre Diggs snubbed in ESPN’s Top safeties

Los Angeles Rams v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

The month is July, and ESPN is beating against the offseason doldrums by time-releasing Top 10 lists for every position group across the NFL. So far, they have gone through edge rushers, DTs, LBs, CBs, safeties, interior OL, and QBs. Still remaining on the docket are RBs, WRs, TEs, and OTs. Unsurprisingly, the Seattle Seahawks have not been overly represented on these lists thus far, with only Jordyn Brooks making the grade at his position, though to be fair both Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner made their respective lists for whatever that is worth. With RB and WR still remaining, it is possible to see the team get a few more guys featured, but Monday we will be focusing on the defensive side of the ball.

In the recent list of top safeties, you may be a bit surprised to see which Seattle Seahawks defender got honored and which got snubbed. The full article is paywalled, but you can see the rankings in the tweet below, just past the top 10 EDGE rankings.

As you can see above, Jamal Adams is clinging to the final spot on the top 10 in 2022, much like he clung to his first two interceptions as a Seahawk in 2021. Here is the blurb regarding his position on the list:

“The NFL’s top safety two years ago now barely hangs on to the No. 10 spot. Many voters still consider Adams more of a true linebacker, which doesn’t help his case. His sack numbers dipped from 9.5 in 2020 to zero in 2021. And his feel for pass coverage has been hotly debated. Still, if you remove perceptions and positions, there’s a simple notion that no one really argues: Adams is a really good football player. “He’s still a game-wrecker,” an NFL personnel director said. “The same critics who praised him as one of the best players in all of football a few years ago are tearing him down. But he hasn’t lost a step. He’s still the same guy.” Some argued Adams was not positioned for success in 2021, too often deep in coverage when he should be moving toward the ball, closer to the line of scrimmage or placed in more favorable coverage. However, Adams’ numbers as the nearest defender aren’t terrible — 22 completions on 44 targets for 334 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. And Pro Football Focus rated Adams as its No. 3 box safety, behind Baker and Jordan Whitehead. Adams also had 88 tackles and four tackles for loss in 2021. And the new Seattle defense under coordinator Clint Hurtt will likely utilize Adams all over the field. “I love what Jamal brings,” an AFC defensive coach said. “But he has limitations. If you put him back covering split safety or the middle third, you’re probably going to have to hide him.”’

I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that many of us who have actually been watching the Seahawks over the last couple seasons might agree with the assertion that Adams has actually been the lesser of the team’s talented duo, with Quandre Diggs being the speedy and fearsome force who has collected 13 interceptions since joining the Hawks during the 2019 season. According to Stat Muse, this places him tied with Tyrann Mathieu and only behind J.C. Jackson (22 picks!), Xavien Howard (16), Trevon Diggs, and Justin Simmons (14 each) since the start of the 2019 season. As confident as he is talented, Diggs has his own feelings on the matter.

To be totally fair, Quandre did get an “honorable mention,” with ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler saying:

“Diggs is deserving of a top-10 spot after back-to-back seasons of five interceptions to match his gritty style of play. He simply didn’t garner enough high votes. “He’s a thumper who will hit your a—, and he has the ball production,” an NFL personnel evaluator said. When evaluators discuss the Seahawks’ safety tandem of Diggs and Adams, they put it this way: Adams might be the better player, but Diggs is a better safety. He is most comfortable in the post but can come downhill to help with the run. “Hard to find a player who’s been better at that position,” an NFC exec said. “He’s been consistent.”’

On paper, the Seattle Seahawks have an impressively formidable duo at Safety. While the on-field results have been difficult to process over the last couple seasons, we can still feel pretty happy to get the chance to watch a couple guys as talented as Adams and Diggs manning the back-end of the defensive backfield (or sometimes front-end, given their capabilities in the box). If you can momentarily separate Adams from the loaded nature of how the Seahawks went about acquiring him, I think we can all agree that he is a multi-talented and occasionally outstanding player who has struggled through a couple seasons of injuries and uneven coaching. Diggs, on the other hand, has been about as stable as anyone could hope for, which bodes well for the team given their collective inconsistencies on that side of the ball and their uncertainty moving forward. With any luck, the overhaul of the team’s defensive staff will give both Adams and Diggs a fresh start and an opportunity to reinforce their case as one of the more talented backfield duos in the NFL.