Young safeties making their mark

A top defensive end can be a difference-maker in the NFL. Pro Football Weekly lists the best of the best.

Updated: October 14, 2003, 3:31 PM ET
By Jeff Fedotin | Pro Football Weekly
Tank. The perfect name for the player who will extend the hard-hitting legacies of Steve Atwater and Ronnie Lott to the athletic players of today.

Even though Titans SS Tank Williams earned his nickname not from steamrolling receivers but from gulping down so much milk as a child that his mother would give her son a "tank" of milk instead of a bottle, he is part of a burgeoning young crop of safeties, which includes Mike Doss, Roy Williams, Rashean Mathis, Ed Reed, Adam Archuleta and Ken Hamlin. Each one is in his first or second pro season, aside from Archuleta, now in his his third NFL campaign. The NFL's last line of defense has never been stronger.

This new batch of safeties has the versatility to stuff the run while covering the pass like never before. Tank Williams weighs 233 pounds and runs the 40-yard dash in 4.4 seconds. He has the perfect size-speed ratio to deliver monster hits and cover like a glove.