One of the NFL's most feared defensive players is also one of the league's best, according to a survey of his peers. Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor checked in at No. 32 on the NFL Network's Top 100 Players of 2016 list, up nine spots from last year.
"You gotta account for that guy," Steelers receiver Darius Heyward-Bey told the NFL Network. "He's a linebacker playing safety. He's the best safety in the league."
Added Panthers fullback Mike Tolbert: "He's a punisher. Any opportunity he gets, he's going to make you pay, make you wish you didn't come his way."
Chancellor, who came to Seattle as a fifth-round pick in 2010, spent his rookie season backing up veteran Lawyer Milloy at strong safety while also contributing on special teams, but once he moved into the starting lineup in 2011, Chancellor quickly established himself as one of the league's toughest, most physical players, while also emerging as a team leader, and little has changed since then.
"He has been awesome," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Tuesday. "He has been such a great leader for us. He has been just on point. Really, he's got the experience, the wisdom of listening and hearing and watching what's going on. He can sense what's going on with the young guys and he's quick to straighten them out, get them on the right path. He's got a big voice here; when he speaks, everybody shuts up and listens, and he's just as tough as you can get in terms of playing the game. He has practiced every day, he has been at it. He has been a thousand-percenter for us, he has been great. It's been a fantastic offseason for him."
In six seasons with Seattle, Chancellor has earned Pro Bowl honors four times (2011, 2013-2015) and been named second-team All-Pro twice (2013, 2014). Chancellor was also a team captain in 2014 and the team's Steve Largent Award that year as well. More than any stats, honors or awards, however, what has defined Chancellor's career has been the physical play that helps set the tone for the entire team.
"He definitely sets the tone," Seahawks safety Earl Thomas once said of Chancellor. "He sets the tone. It's something that you can feel. You see he gets up and starts pounding his hands, all that stuff is contagious, and that's when we're at our best, when everybody is doing their own thing and they're bringing it to the group."