The Strong Safety is the safety used closest to the line of scrimmage. He must have enough size to absorb the punishment of making a lot of tackles on big running backs who are barreling downhill with a head of steam. They must also be lengthy enough to cover the tight end. There are times he will be assigned coverage to a slot receiver. The strong safety is the tight end’s counterpart. He is an extremely versatile defender.
The Strong Safety position has gone from being an under-rated and under-utilized one to one of the best play-making positions on the defensive side of the ball. He’s often used in the blitz package. On top of all those requirements he must also pair with the free safety to defend the deep half of the field versus the pass.
A defense acquiring a standout strong safety can create many challenges for the offense. It is difficult for an offense to account for a defender who can be utilized in so many different ways.
To be able to understand and carry out so many different types of assignments, this player must have a complete grasp of the defensive playbook. He must have a very high football IQ and instincts to go with it. It is one of my favorite positions on the field and it’s the most fun to play.
For more information on defensive safeties and other positions see my book.