Dawkins and Reed provide big-play ability and leadership

Philadelphia and Baltimore -- teams that have strong pass-rushing front sevens -- round out the top five.

4. Philadelphia Eagles

This is a very good secondary, and though Brian Dawkins might not be the overall playmaker that he once was, he remains the leader of the group and has a tremendous understanding of the game and his opponent. The free-agent signing of Asante Samuel has to be considered a raging success, and adding him to the previous group of cornerbacks has allowed coordinator Jim Johnson to be much more aggressive with his defensive play calls. Quintin Mikell is a bit of an unknown, but he has come into his own and is turning into a very good safety in his own right.

5. Baltimore Ravens

Ed Reed is a terrific football player, and he has kept a consistently revolving secondary playing at a high level, while making big play after big play. Samari Rolle has resurrected his career and has been playing great, while Fabian Washington has played better since getting out of Oakland. Chris McAlister has not been missed. There is still room for improvement, and the Ravens surely benefit from the front seven's ability to get after the passer.