Dowling is best last line of defense

Defensive backs and especially safeties are the last line of defense in preventing the big play. The best safeties are those who can read, react and physically execute the fundamentals and skills of secondary play. A complete safety has the instincts and leadership of a field general, the ball skills of a wide receiver and the tenacity of a linebacker, depending upon the situation at hand. The bottom line for a safety is reliability in terms of making the calls and adjustments as needed, along with physically not allowing the big run or long bomb that can result in a quick score by the opposing offense.

Best pass-defenders

What Scouts Inc. looks for: To be a sound safety versus the pass, it takes a player who has both route recognition and ball skills. He must break quickly from the middle of his zone or from the hash to make a play on the pass or separate the receiver from the football on contact. The safeties who have good leaping ability are extremely valuable in jump-ball and deep-pass situations. Even though safeties aren't asked to play man-to-man coverage as much as corners, they must be able to go one-on-one in certain situations and consistently shut down the big play.