Saints senior writer John DeShazier picks the top five safeties the New Orleans Saints will face in 2015:
- When it comes to NFL safeties, Glover Quin probably doesn't rank highest in name recognition. But the Lions free safety last season led the league with seven interceptions, including a critical pick in Detroit's comeback, home victory over the Saints. Quin also had 73 tackles and 17 passes defensed for the Lions, which says he doesn't mind sticking his nose in and he also is proficient at tracking the ball. The McComb, Miss., native enters his third season with Detroit after spending the first four in Houston, and has become the Lions' main playmaker in the secondary.
- Not far behind Quin is his teammate, strong safety James Ihedigbo. Ihedigbo had four interceptions and 71 tackles last year, two sacks, three forced fumbles and 12 passes defensed. He combined with Quin to give Detroit the most productive safety tandem in the league last season. Ihedigbo's first season in Detroit was his most productive in his NFL career; he had more than half of his career seven interceptions, and exactly half of his career six forced fumbles. Know that he and Quin will be on New Orleans' radar when this game comes around.
- Mike Adams only has been a starter in the last four of his previous 11 NFL seasons. Still, after all that time, you'd figure his level of play would be on the decline. The exact opposite was true last season of the Colts' strong safety, who had career high totals in interceptions (five, tied for third-most in the league), tackles (87), passes defensed (16) and forced fumbles (two). Toss in a couple of fumble recoveries, and Adams was about as formidable at his job as was any safety in the league.
- Of the names of opposing players guaranteed to move the needle among Saints fans, print Roman Harper's high on the list. The former Saint, current Panthers strong safety was both loved and loathed during his eight seasons in New Orleans. But in one season with the Panthers, Harper showed that – despite his limitations – there still was some fight and production remaining. He tallied 62 tackles, four interceptions, a sack, a forced fumble and 14 passes defensed for Carolina. The question, as he enters his 10th NFL season, is whether he can replicate. You know he'd love nothing better than to have two standout games against his former team, and current division rival.
- Atlanta's defense was horrific last season in all facets. But amid the rubble, the Falcons may have uncovered a gem in third-year safety Kemal Ishmael. At least, the numbers suggest as much. He started 10 of 16 games last year and finished with four interceptions, six passes defensed, 97 tackles, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. He's a player who could be a pest to Falcons opponents – and, especially, to their NFC South Division opponents – for years to come.