AFC North Positional Rankings: Safety

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Dec 29, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals free safety Reggie Nelson (20) against the Baltimore Ravens at Paul Brown Stadium. Bengals defeated the Ravens 34-17. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

1. Cincinnati Bengals

FS: Reggie Nelson

SS: George Iloka

That’s right, I have the Bengals’ safety duo as the top in the AFC North. Reggie Nelson and George Iloka are two of the NFL’s most underrated players, and they both have the ability to change the game in the course of just a couple of plays.

Reggie Nelson is possibly the best free agent acquisition in Bengals history. He’s picked off 15 passes in his five seasons as a Bengal and also recorded 5.5 sacks in that time. Nelson is a good ball-hawk, he’s great in the run game and he’s one of the most underappreciated Bengals players of all time.

George Iloka is one of my favorite players in the NFL; he’s an outstanding ball hawk, he makes some huge plays in the run game and he’s one of the hardest-hitting safeties in the league. Iloka lays the wood; he’s made some huge hits. Click here to see one of his great hits; this one was on Cecil Shorts. He also made some nice hits on Heath Miller and Jimmy Graham, but those highlights unfortunately aren’t online. Iloka is quietly becoming one of the NFL’s best safeties, and teaming up with Reggie Nelson, he makes Cincinnati’s safety tandem the league’s best outside of Seattle.

Finally, our series on the AFC North’s positional rankings is coming to a close. It’s been very interesting comparing each team’s different positional groups side by side, and after taking a close look at the division, I can honestly say that the Bengals look like the best team in the AFC North. The Ravens and Steelers also look good, but the Bengals’ outstanding depth at every position outside of linebacker puts Cincinnati on top.

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