Top 5 Safeties – No.5, Dashon Goldson

Entering the ’12 season, Tampa Bay was considered a solid team coming off a rough year. They stumbled into another losing season (7-9) largely because they lacked top-of-the-food-chain heads at the skills positions. You know, the super-dope cats who lead units considered the top three in the NFL.

The Bucs changed that with two G moves this offseason. The heist of future Hall of Fame safety Darrelle Revis put the cipher in motion and instantly elevated a Bucs defense that ranked 29th in total D and dead-last against the pass.

Then, helmet-heaving safety Dashon Goldson signed a five-year, $41.25 million ($22 million guaranteed) free-agent contract in March, making the cipher complete.

NFL QBs feasted on Tampa’s pass defense to the tune of a league-high 297 yards per game. This upcoming season, when the ball is chucked against Tamp Bay, it’s probably getting picked or somebody is taking a lick.

While the 49ers increasingly lost faith in the two-time Pro Bowler’s coverage skills during his six years with the team, the versatile and pugnacious Goldson (69 tackles, three picks for NFC champs) can catch wreck at various positions and will get in wherever he can fit in. He’s like the NFL’s Ray Donovan – whatever you need, he makes it happen. Goldson came to Florida and wasted no time mentoring players, pushing them in team meetings and assuming leadership in Coach Greg Schiano’s enhanced D.

“I just want to shine a little light on things,” Goldson told, during OTAs in June. “I’ve played in the postseason … have a lot of experience in a lot of areas.”

So does Revis, whose presence will take care of all that opposing aerial attack nonsense, leaving Goldson to do what he does best. They don’t call him “ The Hawk” for nothing. He’s a rugged run-defender with a nose for the pigskin and blowing crap up. Teaming Goldson with second-year pro Mark Barron also gives the Bucs a safety tandem to roll through the league like the new Bugatti that’s killing the streets.

In today’s NFL, there’s no Ronnie Lott, Rod Woodson or Kenny Easley head-hunting cats Jason Voorhees-style, but Goldson gets the pads popping as good as anybody at his position.

“He’s in the prime of his career and he’s feared every time you go over the middle,” said LaDainian Tomlinson, a former Chargers running back and current NFL Network analyst. “That’s what you want in a safety.”

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