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Box Safety Busts
The Raiders made safety Johnathan Abram their third and final first-round pick of the 2019 NFL Draft. Abram collected 99 tackles, including 9 for loss and 3.0 quarterback sacks in his senior season at Mississippi State. He profiled as an NFL box safety, expected to start and contribute immediately.
Abram played the majority of his snaps in the box last season, according to Pro Football Focus. The Raiders cut him earlier this season. He finds himself on his third team in 2022.
Abram led the league’s safeties in the proportion of snaps played in the box in 2021. Landon Collins, second on the above list, resides on the Giants’ practice squad. The third player, Kyle Dugger, occupies a similar role this year as last. He remains a part-time player in his third season in New England.
The next five players on PFF’s list are all playing more diverse roles in 2022 than in 2021. Safeties across the league are seeing fewer snaps in the box this season. As presented in Week 8’s edition of Reading the Defense, the use of two-high safety sets is up sharply year over year. As each of the two safeties is high, neither appears in the box – among the linebackers in the defense’s second level. Washington’s Kamren Curl is the only full-time safety playing at least half his snaps in the box through 13 weeks.
As Jon Macri notes in his tweet, box snaps matter for tackle production. The run game is a much larger piece of NFL offenses in 2022, a development covered in Reading the Defense, Week 11. Despite this, fantasy gamers’ safety units are reaping few rewards. The numbers on the fantasy leaderboard for the position look substantially similar to those of recent years.
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