Another set of unique NFL Power Rankings as we rank the best players wearing each jersey number available in the league from No. 1-99
The NFL is regarded by many to be the most popular sport in America. Nothing highlights this more than our fascination with parts of the game that don’t even have to do with how it is played on the field. From weekly NFL Power Rankings, to debates about which quarterback is best the talk surrounding the league is non-stop.
Further proof of the league’s popularity is the talk that centers around what number a player will wear. This is prevalent in other sports as well, but football fans are more passionate about it. Debates were started as to why someone like Reggie Bush couldn’t keep the number five he wore as the running back for USC when he entered the league.
Recently, Dallas Cowboys fourth-round pick Ryan Switzer took to Twitter and asked for fan input as he decided between No. 10, 15 and 18. In the end he chose No. 10, but it was fun seeing how many fans got involved with it.
Seeing as how we all love talking football, and the jersey numbers can be dear to our hearts — let’s sort out the best player to wear each number from 1-99 in this jersey number NFL Power Rankings.
Dec 24, 2016; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers wide receiver Devin Funchess (17) and quarterback Cam Newton (1) and quarterback Derek Anderson (3) before the game at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
1. Cam Newton, QB — Carolina Panthers
He came into the league with a lot of hype — and a lot of doubters. Cam Newton was a stud for Auburn and led the Tigers (or War Eagles…or whatever they’re called) to a National Championship. He then became the No. 1 overall pick of the Carolina Panthers in 2011. He’s had his share of bumps along the way, but Newton was the 2015 NFL MVP and took his team to the Super Bowl that year. 2016 was a down season, but he was still the best player to wear No. 1.
We go from the 2015 NFL MVP to the 2016 NFL MVP. Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is not only the best to wear No. 2 in our NFL Power Rankings, but according to Andy Hendricks of Blogging Dirty, may be the best to ever wear the number.
If Ryan’s superb numbers alone do not close the argument, his accolades will. The 2016 Most Valuable Player, the 2016 Offensive Player of the Year, 2016 First Team All-Pro, Four Pro-Bowls (2010, 2012, 2014, 2016), and the 2008 Offensive Rookie of the Year are the highlights of Ryan’s trophy case.
3. Russell Wilson, QB — Seattle Seahawks
Another signal-caller makes the list, and we also have the last three guys to lose in the Super Bowl lined up here with Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. Unlike Ryan (who lost in Super Bowl 51 with the Falcons) and Newton (who lost in Super Bowl 50 with Carolina), Wilson has himself a ring. He’s a great player and far and away the best to wear No. 3 at this time.
Dec 24, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) gestures before the snap against the Indianapolis Colts during the first quarter at the Oakland Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
4. Derek Carr, QB — Oakland Raiders
We continue to roll with the guys who get all the glory. No. 4 on our list goes to the quarterback of the Oakland Raiders, Derek Carr. He’s become one of the best in the game, and continually makes people look foolish for drafting Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater ahead of him. Carr led Oakland to their first winning season since 2002 and will surely keep getting even better.
5. Dan Bailey, K — Dallas Cowboys
Our first non-quarterback makes the list as Dan Bailey of the Dallas Cowboys is the best player to wear number five in the NFL right now. The biggest argument will be that Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco should be here, but he’s not the better player. Flacco is an average quarterback still living off the fame of a hot postseason that won him a Super Bowl. Bailey is arguably the second best kicker in the game behind only Justin Tucker also of the Ravens. Bailey is money, and earns this spot.
6. Caleb Sturgis, K — Philadelphia Eagles
Another kicker makes the list. However, this guy is only here because the number six isn’t real popular. Had former Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler returned for one more season, he would be here. He didn’t, so Philadelphia kicker Caleb Sturgis gets the nod.
Jan 22, 2017; Foxborough, MA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger throws a pass against the New England Patriots during the second quarter in the 2017 AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
7. Ben Roethlisbeger, QB — Pittsburgh Steelers
Let’s get back under center. After two kickers in a row, No. 7 on our list again belongs to a guy who throws the ball. Ben Roethlisberger considered retirement this offseason, and that would have been a huge loss for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
He’s just one of those quarterabacks that always gives his team a chance to win. He can make all the throws, is incredibly hard to tackle and doesn’t make the big mistakes that hurt his team.
8. Kirk Cousins, QB — Washington Redskins
After back-to-back 4,000-yard seasons everyone knows by now Kirk Cousins is a legit quarterback in the NFL. Well, everyone except the people who run the Washington Redskins. They keep kicking the can down the road and franchise tagging Cousins, which only makes his starting point in contract negotiations higher. They now will either have to overpay him, or watch him leave. Either way, he’s the best to wear No. 8 right now.
9. Drew Brees, QB — New Orleans Saints
Drew Brees throws for 5,000 yards as often as most people change their clothes. This guy defies aging and just keeps chucking the ball all over the place. He may suffer slightly from losing receiver Brandin Cooks, but it won’t be enough to see a significant drop from the veteran.
Dec 11, 2016; Nashville, TN, USA; Denver Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (10) throws the ball into the stands after scoring a touchdown against the Tennessee Titans during the second half at Nissan Stadium. Tennessee won 13-10. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports
10. Emmanuel Sanders, WR — Denver Broncos
No. 10 isn’t just for quarterbacks anymore. It’s now a popular number for wideouts, none of which have been as impactful as Emmauel Sanders of the Denver Broncos. Since leaving the Pittsburgh Steelers in favor of the Broncos Sanders has become a force. In 2014, he had 101 receptions for 1,404 yards and added at least 70 receptions 1,000 yards in each of the last two seasons. He’s had 20 of his 31 career touchdowns during that span as well.
11. Julio Jones, WR — Atlanta Falcons
2015 was an insane season for Falcons receiver Julio Jones. He had 136 receptions and 1,871 yards for the Dirty Birds. 2016 was quieter as he registered just 83 receptions but still put up 1,409 yards and six scores.
12. Aaron Rodgers, QB — Green Bay Packers
After a hard-to-watch dip in the 2005 NFL Draft, the Green Bay Packers snatched up Aaron Rodgers and had him sitting behind the legendary Brett Favre for three seasons. Eventually they turned to Rodgers full-time and he didn’t disappoint. Rodgers has 297 touchdowns to just 72 picks. He’s considered one of the best in the game and has completed 65.1 percent of his passes for 36,827 yards.
Dec 22, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham (13) watches from the sideline as time winds down on a Philadelphia Eagles victory at Lincoln Financial Field. The Philadelphia Eagles won 24-19. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
13. Odell Beckham, Jr., WR — New York Giants
No receiver to enter the league over the past three seasons has exploded like Odell Beckham, Jr. of the New York Giants. Despite playing all 16 games only once, OBJ has gone over 1,300 yards and double digit touchdowns in each season. Coming out of LSU he was considered an immense talent, and he’s proven those expectations to be dead on. Of course Beckham, Jr. finds himself the center of a lot of controversy due to his blow ups during games, but the Giants have to feel it’s worth it since he’s simply un-coverable.
Beckham had a really talented teammate at LSU. That teammate was Jarvis Landry who went in the same draft and has been rather productive himself. While Landry hasn’t crossed the goal line as often as Beckham, he does have the same amount of career receptions (288) and has eclipsed 1,100 yards receiving in each of the past two seasons.
15. Michael Crabtree, WR — Oakland Raiders
The Oakland Raiders signed former San Francisco 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree after an up-and-down stint with the team that drafted him in the first round back in 2009. In his two seasons with the Raiders, Crabtree has been great as he has caught 85 and 89 passes while going for nearly 2,000 yards in those two seasons. He’s also had 17 touchdowns after having just five in his final two years with Frisco.
Dec 15, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett (16) celebrates after catching a touchdown pass against the Los Angeles Rams during the fourth quarter at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
16. Tyler Lockett, WR — Seattle Seahawks
No. 16 doesn’t carry the clout it used to when Joe Montana was the premier quarterback in the NFL. Now players like Rams quarterback Jared Goff and Titan backup Matt Cassel are the typical players to wear those digits. While Los Angeles surely hopes to see Goff climb to the top of this ranking, his poor performance in 2016 isn’t helping him.
Instead, the honor belongs to wide receiver/kick returner Tyler Lockett of the Seattle Seahawks. Locket is an explosive player, and although his numbers dipped in year two, he still is a very talented member of the Seahawks attack.
17. Philip Rivers, QB — Los Angeles Chargers
Back to the signal-callers. Philip Rivers looks like he will end up going down as one of those really talented passers that just never won a title — barring a sudden change in fortunes that is. He is able to rack up yards with the best of them, and is fun to watch.
18. A.J. Green, WR — Cincinnati Bengals
Cincinnati Bengals receiver A.J. Green is as dynamic as they come. He has all the speed you need as well as the height and ability to go up and get the ball. He’s the most consistent weapon the Bengals have and comes away as the best No. 18.
What was once a prominent number among wide outs, No. 19 has hit a dry spell in recent seasons. As of now the best to wear the number heading into the 2017 NFL season is the Minnesota Vikings surprise starter Adam Thielen. After recording just 20 receptions in his first two seasons, Thielen went for 967 yards and five touchdowns on 69 receptions.
20. Janoris Jenkins, CB — New York Giants
The New York Giants gave former Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins a lot of cash in 2016 as they tied to fix their broken defense. It worked as he and defensive end Olivier Vernon as well as defensive tackle Damon Harrison came in and changed their culture. Jenkins is a pure shutdown corner that can go toe-to-toe with the best receivers in the game.
21. Ezekiel Elliott, RB — Dallas Cowboys
Our No. 21 representative is Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott. The fourth-overall pick in 2016 led the league with over 1,600 rushing yards despite resting for the final game — although if it were up to him he wouldn’t have rested. He’s arguably one of the top two or three running backs in the game now, and the scary part is he can get even better.
Dec 5, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets running back Matt Forte (22) runs with the ball during the first half against the Indianapolis Colts at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
22. Matt Forte, RB — New York Jets
He was an absolute machine for the Chicago Bears, and for the New York Jets now running back Matt Forte is still an effective weapon. During his heyday he was one of the best all-around backs in the game as he was a force in the run and as a receiver out of the backfield. Although he’s lost a step, Forte is still the best in the game to wear No. 22 during the 2017 NFL season.
23. Joe Haden, CB — Cleveland Browns
There’s not a lot the Browns have done right over the past decade. One thing they did hit a home run on was drafting former Florida cornerback Joe Haden. He’s become one of the best in the game at covering wideouts and is the face of their defense. Well, at least he has been, but that could change after they drafted defensive end Myles Garrett first overall.
24. Devonta Freeman, RB — Atlanta Falcons
The Atlanta Falcons saw running back Devonta Freeman break out in 2015 and he continued to be a force in 2016. He’s now trying to work on a new deal and should have no problem securing his financial future with the Dirty Birds, but even before he strikes it rich he can be proud of being the best to wear number 24 right now.
Dec 11, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy (25) runs with the ball during the second half against the Pittsburgh Steelers at New Era Field. The Steelers beat the Bills 27-20. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
25. LeSean McCoy, RB — Buffalo Bills
When Chip Kelly was given the keys to the Philadelphia Eagles roster it made no sense. He had never held any type of personnel role in the NFL, and immediately showed he was in over his head. He made a lot of really bad moves, but none were worse than getting rid of LeSean McCoy. The running back has become the focal point of the Buffalo Bills offense since being dealt, and the Eagles are stil trying to find a starter.
26. Le’Veon Bell, RB — Pittsburgh Steelers
Le’Veon Bell is just as good catching the ball as he is running it, which is crazy to think because he’s amazing as a running back. If he could stop getting in trouble for smoking pot off the field, he could become one of the best ever on it.
27. Leonard Fournette, RB — Jacksonville Jaguars
A Jacksonville Jaguars rookie beats out a former Jags safety here. Fourth-overall pick Leonard Fournette edges out Raiders safety Reggie Nelson as the best to wear the No. 27 this year. Of course for him, it’s a prediction as he still hasn’t played a down — but it would be surprising to see him fail.
May 25, 2017; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) hands the ball off to running back Adrian Peterson (28) during organized team activities at the New Orleans Saints training facility. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports
28. Adrian Peterson, RB — New Orleans Saints
If the Adrian Peterson of 2016 shows up, the New Orleans Saints will be disappointed in their recent addition. The vet missed a lot of time due to injury, but really wasn’t impressive in the few games he did suit up for. He still has the potential to be the guy he was in 2015, and if he is, look out for the already scary Saints offense.
After leading the NFL in rushing in 2014, DeMarco Murray was a big free agent pick up for the Philadelphia Eagles. He was a bust for them — one of the many blunders of the aforementioned Chip Kelly who tried to use a bruising back in his up-pace scheme. He proved last year that he wasn’t the problem as he was once again among the leaders in the league in running the rock.
30. Todd Gurley, RB — Los Angeles Rams
As a rookie in 2015, Todd Gurley was a monster. The Rams were beyond thrilled with him, but then in 2016 he took a dip. The problem could have been the terrible quarterback play as defenses focused on the one threat Los Angeles had. Even with his struggles, he’s the choice for No. 30 in this jersey number NFL Power Rankings.
Dec 18, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson (31) stretches and score a touchdown as New Orleans Saints cornerback B.W. Webb (28) defends during the second half at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
31. David Johnson, RB — Arizona Cardinals
He’s in the discussion for the top running back in the entire NFL, so there’s pretty much no way anyone beats out David Johnson for the No. 31 in our jersey number 2017 NFL power rankings. Johnson was a backup as a rookie in 2015, but then took over near the end of the season. He continued to get the ball at a high rate in year two and is as effective running the ball as he is catching it. Scary player to tray and defend.
32. Tyrann Mathieu, S — Arizona Cardinals
We stay in the desert as the Red Birds also offer us the best player to wear No. 32 in safety Tyrann Mathieu. He was kicked off the LSU football team for his off-field issues, but has since been taken under the wing of former college teammate and current Cardinals secondary mate Patrick Peterson. Mathieu has matured a lot and has become a complete game changer for Arizona.
33. DeAndre Washington, RB — Oakland Raiders
The No. 33 surprisingly offers little in the way of great players. As of 2016 the choice would have been safety Micah Hyde, but he changed numbers when he left the Green Bay Packers in exchange for the Buffalo Bills. That leaves us with Oakland Raiders backup running back DeAndre Washington. He isn’t a bad player, but still gets this almost by default.
Jan 1, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Cleveland Browns running back Isaiah Crowell (34) rushes the ball against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the fourth quarter at Heinz Field. The Steelers won 27-24 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
34. Isaiah Crowell, RB — Cleveland Browns
2017 could be a big season for Cleveland Browns running back Isaiah Crowell. The offensive line for the “Factory of Sadness” improved tremendously over the offseason. Crowell was already an underrated talent, but with even better blocking he could truly excel.
35. Eric Reid, S — San Francisco 49ers
The former LSU standout, Eric Reid has become a strong veteran presence for the San Francisco 49ers. It has to be hard for him as he was drafted into a great defense and was part of their Super Bowl run with head coach Jim Harbaugh. Then he had to work with Ron Jeremy and Chris Farley’s evil twins the past two seasons as head coach.
36. D.J. Swearinger — Washington Redskins
This honor was going to belong to Baltimore Ravens cornerback Tavon Young, but then he switched numbers after a good rookie season. On top of that, he tore his ACL in OTAs. Now it goes to one of the newest members of the Washington Redskins, D.J. Swearinger. He was a second overall pick in 2013, but last just two seasons with the Houston Texans.
He was then picked up by the Tampa Bay Bucs, who also seemed to be ready to move on from him rather quickly as he was cut after just seven games in 2015. He finished that season with the Arizona Cardinals and then played very well in 2016 recording 66 tackles and three picks. He parlayed that into a good deal with the Redskins and is still a much better player than his reputation indicates.
Dec 13, 2015; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens running back Buck Allen (37) chased by Seattle Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril (56) at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports
37. Buck Allen, RB — Baltimore Ravens
Ravens fans may see a lot more of Buck Allen than they expected to in 2017. He had fallen to third on the depth chart behind Terrance West and 2016 rookie Kenneth Dixon. However, Dixon has been suspended for four games and that means Allen will once again be the primary reserve in the Ravens anemic rushing attack.
Earlier, Isaiah Crowell was called underrated, and the selection at No. 38 deserves the same title. Safety Jeff Heath was forced into a lot of action as a rookie for the Dallas Cowboys and the undrafted free agent from Saginaw Valley State wasn’t ready. That bad taste is still in people’s mouths, but it shouldn’t be. Heath has done well whenever he has been called upon and nearly won the Cowboys playoff game against the Packers when he picked off Aaron Rodgers twice.
The second was called back late in the fourth — thanks to a holding penalty on rookie corner Anthony Brown — but could have sealed the Boys comeback. With so much change in Big D this season, look for Heath to earn a starting spot and surprise some people.
39. Tashaun Gipson, S — Jacksonville Jaguars
Another number with little to choose from is No. 39. Tashaun Gipson takes the title here, as the undrafted free agent from Wyoming will continue to wear this number after leaving Cleveland to join the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Jan 3, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Seattle Seahawks fullback Derrick Coleman (40) against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
40. Derrick Coleman, FB — Atlanta Falcons
Derrick Coleman won a Super Bowl with the Seattle Seahawks and gained notoriety for being the first offensive player in the league that’s deaf. He spent 2016 out of the league after being suspended for a spell by the Hawks for his role in a hit and run accident. He was picked up by the Falcons to be their starting fullback after Patrick DiMarco left free agency.
41. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB — New York Giants
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is a talented corner, but has bounced around the league some. A first round pick of the Arizona Cardinals in 2008, DRC was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles. After two seasons with them he spent a year with the Denver Broncos before finding a home in New York. He’s been with the Giants since 2014 and has 30 career interceptions, seven of which he returned for touchdowns.
42. Karl Joseph, S — Oakland Raiders
60 tackles and one interception in 12 games as a rookie was pretty impressive out of Oakland Raiders safety Karl Joseph. He beats out Barry Church for the No. 42, mainly because Joseph is still improving and Church is hugely overrated. Joseph is known for his hard hits and was a starter from the get-go for the Raiders.
Dec 22, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles running back Darren Sproles (43) runs past New York Giants cornerback Trevin Wade (31) on his way to a touchdown during the first quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
43. Darren Sproles, RB — Philadelphia Eagles
Coming in as our best player to wear No. 43 is Darren Sproles of the Philadelphia Eagles. The veteran running back is nearing the end of his career as he’s been in the league since 2005. After going from the San Diego Chargers to New Orleans Saints, Sproles remained a weapon as a pass catcher out of the backfield and return man for the Eagles.
44. Vic Beasley, Jr., OLB — Atlanta Falcons
The 2016 NFL sack leader was Vic Beasley, a first round pick from the season before out of Clemson. He recorded 15.5 sacks and had six forced fumbles for the Dirty Birds. He’s the centerpiece of a revamped defense that helped the Falcons get to Super Bowl 51. It looks a little odd still to have a linebacker wearing a number like 44, but he’s easily the best to wear it currently.
45. Deion Jones, LB — Atlanta Falcons
We stick with the much-maligned Falcons defense here as the choice for No. 45 is Deion Jones. The LSU product recorded 108 tackles and three picks as a rookie for Atlanta. While they’ve struggled in recent seasons on defense, Atlanta has done a good job of collecting some young talent as they hope to make some much needed changes to that unit.
Aug 19, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Alfred Morris (46) scores a touchdown during the game against the Miami Dolphins at AT&T Stadium. The Cowboys defeat the Dolphins 41-14. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
46. Alfred Morris, RB — Dallas Cowboys
Now we find some more numbers where there’s little to choose from. The No. 46 honor goes to Dallas Cowboys backup running back Alfred Morris. While he hardly saw the field in his first season in Big D, Morris did have three-straight seasons going over 1,000 yards to begin his career with the Washington Redskins. He still could be pretty productive, if he wasn’t behind a beast like Ezekiel Elliott.
He went from Buffalo to Philly to Miami. Kiko Alonso was part of the trade to send LeSean McCoy to the Bills as Chip Kelly was trying to get as many former Oregon players as possible. Then the new regime decided to cut ties with anything related to Kelly and sent Alonso to the Dolphins — along with the highly disappointing Byron Maxwell.
48. Vonn Bell, S — New Orleans Saints
The New Orleans Saints find themselves in the same boat the Falcons were a couple seasons ago. Their defense is awful and to fix it, they need a huge overhaul. Former Ohio State safety Von Bell was one of those players brought in to change the culture. As a rookie he had 87 tackles and two forced fumbles.
Nov 21, 2016; Mexico City, MEX; Oakland Raiders fullback Jamize Olawale (49) scores on a 75-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter against the Houston Texans during a NFL International Series game at Estadio Azteca. The Raiders defeated the Texans 27-20. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
49. Jamize Olawale, FB — Oakland Raiders
The Oakland Raiders have another backfield member here as fullback Jamize Olawale makes the cut for the No. 49. He is a solid blocker, but also showed off his speed at times — like when he scored a 75-yard touchdown against the Houston Texans. He was a former undrafted free agent out of North Texas, and after not sticking with the Dallas Cowboys has become a fixture for the Raiders.
50. K.J. Wright, LB — Seattle Seahawks
No. 50 belong to K.J. Wright, the fourth-round selection in 2011 out of Mississippi State who has been a great linebacker for the Seattle Seahawks for year. Wright recorded a career high 126 tackles in 2016, and it was the third straight season the veteran recorded triple digits in tackles.
51. Jamie Collins, MLB — Cleveland Browns
The New England Patriots reportedly grew tired of linebacker Jamie Collins “freelancing.” They also knew with his contract coming up they would need to fork out a ton of money to keep him. Instead of doing that, they sent him to play for the Cleveland Browns. Eventually he inked a long-term deal with the Browns as well.
Jan 7, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Oakland Raiders defensive end Khalil Mack (52) in action against the Houston Texans during the AFC Wild Card playoff football game at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
52. Khalil Mack, DE — Oakland Raiders
With all the talk in the 2014 NFL Draft being centered around South Carolina pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney, Khalil Mack out of Buffalo sat back and let his play do the talking. He wound up going fifth-overall and was inserted into the Raiders starting lineup as a rookie. He started all 16 games for them and played well, but was still developing as a pass rusher with just four sacks. He’s started all 16 games the past two seasons as well and has 29 sacks, inserting himself into the discussion for best edge rushers in the game.
53. Maurkice Pouncey, OC — Pittsburgh Steelers
One of the Pouncy twins makes the list as Maurkice Pouncey of the Pittsburgh Steelers gets his name called. He entered the league before his brother did and has been a fixture in the middle of the line for the Steelers.
54. Bobby Wagner, MLB — Seattle Seahawks
Bobby Wagner is no joke. His career low in tackles is 104 and he beat his personal high of 140 (from his rookie season in 2012) with 167 tackles in 2016. While a lot of the praise in Seattle goes to end Michael Bennett and cornerback Richard Sherman, Wagner is just as vital to the success of the Seattle defense.
Nov 13, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals outside linebacker Chandler Jones (55) leaves the field after the second half against the San Francisco 49ers at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cardinals won 23-20. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
55. Chandler Jones, OLB — Arizona Cardinals
After talking about how the New England Patriots shipped off Jamie Collins earlier to avoid paying him big money, we broach the subject again. Chandler Jones was the best player the Pats had at generating pressure, but with a year left on his contract, they traded him to the Arizona Cardinals. He became their best edge rusher and recently was giving a huge deal to stay with them for the foreseeable future.
In the 2015 NFL Draft the Denver Broncos moved up for outside linebacker Shane Ray out of Missouri. The highly touted pass rusher made a huge mistake in getting popped for having marijuana leading up to the draft, which made the move risky. To date, the Broncos have been winning on that bet and Ray performed very well in year two and looks to replace DeMarcus Ware moving forward.
57. Keenan Robinson, LB — New York Giants
A fourth-round pick out of Texas in 2012, Keenan Robinson spent four seasons with the Washington Redskins. He then signed with their divisional rivals — the New York Giants. He was more quiet an addition than the other players brought in by the G-men, but Robinson and his 83 tackles were just as important to their success.
May 23, 2017; Englewood, CO, USA; Denver Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller (58) following organized training activities at the UCHealth Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
58. Von Miller, OLB — Denver Broncos
The second overall pick in 2011 out of Texas A&M, Von Miller has developed into one of the best pass rushers in the game. He not only has 73.5 career sacks, but also went off the rails in Super Bowl 50 as he harassed 2015 NFL MVP Cam Newton all night. He was the single biggest reason they won the big game, and was rewarded with a huge contract shortly afterwards.
59. Luke Kuechly, LB — Carolina Panthers
Just as important as Miller was to the Broncos Super Bowl run was Luke Kuechly to the Carolina Panthers. They struggled some in 2016, and a lot of the issues could be due to their stud linebacker missing six games with concussion issues. Even with playing just 10 games he was the best player in the league to sport the number 59 and a return to health could make the Panthers a force again.
60. Ben Jones, OG — Tennessee Titans
Ben Jones used to make money by eating gross things. Then he made money blocking people and snapping the ball for the Houston Texans. He now makes money doing the same thing for the Tennessee Titans, although there are still reports that he eats things for money still.
Sep 1, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions defensive end Kerry Hyder (61) smiles during an interview after the game against the Buffalo Bills at Ford Field. Lions win 31-0. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
61. Kerry Hyder, DE — Detroit Lions
Kerry Hyder was signed by the New York Jets in 2014 as an undrafted free agent out of Texas Tech, but was a member of the Detroit Lions by 2015. He didn’t log significant time until 2016 for the Lions and impressed with eight sacks. They felt comfortable letting starter Devin Taylor walk in free agency, and Hyder’s presence may have helped them feel comfortable doing so.
62. Jason Kelce, C — Philadelphia Eagles
He’s the quieter of the Kelce brothers, as the older brother of Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce was picked in the sixth round of the 2011 NFL Draft. Since then, Jason Kecle has started 78 games for the Eagles and is one of the better centers in the game.
63. Mark Glowinski, OG — Seattle Seahawks
At No. 63 we have a guard that started 16 games in 2016 after having just one start the previous season. West Virginia’s Mark Glowinski went to the Seattle Seahawks in the fourth round of the 2015 NFL Draft and became a full-time starter in just his second season. He’s played well, but the line as a whole in Seattle leaves a lost to be desired.
Dec 18, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills offensive guard Richie Incognito (64) and Cleveland Browns defensive end Jamie Meder (98) during the game at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
64. Richie Incognito, OG — Buffalo Bills
No. 64 belongs to guard Richie Incognito. He’s a starting guard for the Buffalo Bills, and really is a great player. The problem is he wears out his welcome everywhere he goes. At Nebraska he was always in trouble for fighting and eventually transferred to Oregon once head coach Bill Callahan had enough. Incognito never played for the Ducks as he was dismissed within a week after failing to meet the terms of his agreement to play there.
Since joining the NFL, he has played for the Rams, Bills, Dolphins and again the Bills. He also is well-known for being part of the bullying scandal in which he was accused of harassing former teammate Jonathan Martin in Miami.
65. Ronald Leary, OG — Denver Broncos
The next guy on our list is a very wealthy man. Ronald Leary was part of the Dallas Cowboys impressive offensive line, but after losing his job to La’el Collins he was relegated to the bench. In 2016, Collins was hurt and Leary was a starter again — and played better than ever. The result was a giant contract to be a starting guard with the Denver Broncos.
66. David DeCastro, OG — Pittsburgh Steelers
Another guard who helps open things up for a talented runner is David DeCastro. The Pittsburgh Steelers guard is a smart veteran that has a lot to do with how well this team functions as an offense.
Nov 26, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Carolina Panthers center Ryan Kalil (67) during the game against the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving at AT&T Stadium. The Panthers defeat the Cowboys 33-14. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
67. Ryan Kalil, C — Carolina Panthers
Another offensive lineman with a sibling in the NFL makes the list. Ryan Kalil was a second round pick in 2007 of the Panthers, and has a younger brother in the NFL — Matt Kalil — who just recently signed with the Panthers as well. The elder Kalil is a five-time Pro Bowl player and twice was a First-Team All-Pro as well. He’s never been lacking in confidence and would probably agree he’s the best in the league to wear No. 67.
68. Taylor Decker, OT — Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions used a 2016 first-round pick on Ohio State offensive tackle Taylor Decker. He became the best tackle on the Lions right away and is a solid pass protector. He may be most well-known for throwing the block that injured former Notre Dame and current Dallas Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith.
69. David Bakhtiari, OT — Green Bay Packers
The tradition continues as Green Bay Packers offensive tackle David Bakhtiari is the younger brother of Eric Bakhtiari, who played defensive end and outside linebacker in the NFL. He’s gone from a fourth-round pick in 2013 to the blind side protector for Aaron Rodgers. Bakhtiari made the pro bowl in 2016 and was a second-team All-Pro.
Nov 13, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Dallas Cowboys guard Zack Martin (70) blocks in pass protection against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the first quarter at Heinz Field. The Cowboys won 35-30. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
70. Zack Martin, OG — Dallas Cowboys
In the 2014 NFL Draft there was a lot of talk about what the Dallas Cowboys would do with the 16th pick. There was a lot of concern that they needed to move on from quarterback Tony Romo soon, and as fate would have it Johnny Manziel was coming into the league. Making matters more interesting, the owner of the team, Jerry Jones, was openly pining for Manziel.
Dallas skipped on the splashy pick and took Zack Martin. Manziel is out of the league and Martin has become arguably the best guard in the entire NFL. That makes him an ideal selection as the best to wear number 70 currently.
The Philadelphia Eagles wanted someone to shore up their offensive line and they traded a first and fourth-round pick for Bills left tackle Jason Peters. He’s proven to be worth the price paid as he’s made nine career Pro Bowls and has done so in each season with Philly except for 2012.
72. Michael Bennett, DE — Seattle Seahawks
We get a reprieve from the offensive line and look at the defensive line for the No. 72. Seattle Seahawks Michael Bennett is a talented defensive end that is able to rush the quarterback from the outside as well as the inside.
Sep 18, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns tackle Joe Thomas (73) against the Baltimore Ravens during the second quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Ravens defeated the Browns 25-20. Mandatory Credit: Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports
73. Joe Thomas, OT — Cleveland Browns
Another Cleveland Browns player makes the list as Joe Thomas is the best person wearing number 73. He was the third overall pick in 2007 out of Wisconsin. The imposing left tackle has a decade-worth of Pro Bowls under his belt and has to be admired for not going insane being stuck in Cleveland for all these years. He also has to be respected for his desire to stick with the team despite their poor play on the field.
74. Joe Staley, OT — San Francisco 49ers
Also a first-round pick in 2007, Joe Staley has been a tackle for just one team his entire career. He has 143 games under his belt — all of which he’s started. Staley is a veteran presence for the 49ers who can use all the good players they can get.
75. Bryan Bulaga, OT — Green Bay Packers
David Bakhtiari blocks the blind side for the Green Bay Packers and is the best to wear No. 69. Across from him on the right side is Bryan Bulaga and he’s the best player to wear No. 75 in the league. The Pack has one of the best lines in the game today and Bulaga is a huge part of that.
Jan 1, 2017; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins offensive tackle Branden Albert (76) is introduced before an NFL football game against the New England Patriots at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
76. Branden Albert, OT — Jacksonville Jaguars
The No. 15 pick in the 2008 NFL Draft was offensive tackle Branden Albert. The Kansas City Chiefs took Albert out of Virginia and he was a decent player, but never reached his full potential. He went to the Miami Dolphins next and after a couple of seasons he was traded to the Jacksonville Jaguars. He has yet to show up to the team he was traded to, but apparently told head coach Doug Marrone he will be there by minicamp.
77. Tyron Smith, OT — Dallas Cowboys
After going a couple decades without drafting an offensive lineman in the first round, the Cowboys have suddenly drafted three of them since 2011. The first of those selections was USC tackle Tyron Smith. After playing on the right side as a rookie, Smith switched to the left. He’s been incredible there and can hold his own against anyone in the league.
78. Alejandro Villanueva, OT — Pittsburgh Steelers
Currently Alejandro Villanueva is a potential hold out. The Pittsburgh Steelers for some reason are reluctant to pay the former U.S. Army Ranger. He’s an incredibly talented player and wins the spot as the best No. 78 in our jersey number NFL power rankings.
Jan 1, 2017; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles tackle Lane Johnson (65) and guard Brandon Brooks (79) in a game against the Dallas Cowboys at Lincoln Financial Field. The Philadelphia Eagles won 27-13. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
79. Brandon Brooks, OG — Philadelphia Eagles
After beginning his career with the Houston Texans, Brandon Brooks signed a new deal with the Philadelphia Eagles ahead of the 2016 season. He continued to be a strong player for the Eagles. Heading into 2017, he hopes to help their second year quarterback Carson Wentz take the next step in his progression.
80. Martellus Bennett, TE — Green Bay Packers
Affectionately known as Marty B, the No. 80 honor goes to Martellus Bennett of the Green Bay Packers. He was a second-round pick for the Dallas Cowboys and after four seasons he went to the New York Giants. Bennett then played for the Bears before spending last season with the New England Patriots where he won a title. He now takes his incredible talent — and fun-loving personality — to the Packers. It will be fun to see how he fits in with the Packers, who don’t seem to like having fun as much as he does.
81. Cameron Merideth, WR — Chicago Bears
A surprise contributor in 2016, Cameron Merideth was undrafted in 2015 and went from catching 11 passes as a rookie to catching 66 in year two. He looks to only improve going forward after recording 888 yards and four touchdowns for the Bears.
There was a time when the San Francisco 49ers had Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker on the same team. They never seemed to be able to utilize the two at the same time (which is common as Dallas had both Jason Witten and Martellus Bennett for four seasons). Walker ended up heading to Tennessee and there he’s become a star. He may be on the wrong side of 30 now, but he was their best receiver last season and takes the title for No. 82.
83. Willie Snead, WR — New Orleans Saints
No. 83 doesn’t appear on the jersey of many superstars, but it is on the uniform for New Orleans Saints wideout Willie Snead. He’s one of those guys you forget about with so many weapons at Drew Brees’ disposal, but ignore him for too long and the veteran receiver will make teams regret it.
84. Antonio Brown, WR — Pittsburgh Steelers
This may have been one of the easier choices. Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Antonio Bryant is one of the top three receivers in the league. In fact, he may be the best. The rapport he has with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is crazy fun to watch and despite everyone in the stadium knowing the ball will come his way early and often, no one can stop it.
Nov 20, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert (85) against the Buffalo Bills at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bills won 16-12. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
85. Tyler Eifert, TE — Cincinnati Bengals
Health has been the one thing slowing down former Notre Dame standout Tyler Eifert. He’s built like a tight end, but has hands and runs routes like a wide receiver. He is one of quarterback Andy Dalton’s favorite targets in the red zone and the addition of speedster John Ross at receiver may even force teams to use less safety coverage on Eifert. If so, he will manhandle linebackers.
Zach Ertz is next on our list as he is the best in the business wearing No. 86 currently. Ertz seems to be the one guy everyone expects to explode, but he never does. He may have a huge game or two occasionally, but then he disappears. It’s too bad because talent-wise he’s as good as any tight end in the NFC right now.
87. Jordy Nelson, WR — Green Bay Packers
Wait a minute? What about Gronk? Sure, in a beer chugging or act like a goofball contest Rob Gronkowski would own Jordy Nelson. However, when it comes to playing football Nelson is the right choice. He missed all of 2015 with a torn ACL, but is still more reliable than Gronk as well, considering it’s a shock when the Pats tight end does play 16 games (it hasn’t happened since 2011). After returning from his injury Nelson went off for over 1,200 yards and 14 touchdowns. He’s the best weapon for Rodgers on an explosive offense.
Jan 1, 2017; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant (88) leaps inside the tunnel during introductions before game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
88. Dez Bryant, WR — Dallas Cowboys
He seems to have some bad luck with injuries, but when Dez Bryant is on, he’s unstoppable. He put on a show to end the season with Dallas as he had nine receptions and two touchdowns for the Boys as they nearly came back from a 21-3 deficit. If he andquarterback Dak Prescott can pick up where they left off there, 2017 could be a big year for Bryant.
89. Amari Cooper, WR — Oakland Raiders
Having receiver Michael Crabtree representing the best to wear No. 15 wasn’t enough, so the Raiders will also get love for having his fellow starter Amari Cooper. The first round pick out of Alabama became a favorite target of Derek Carr right away. He’s a sure-handed receiver that runs beautiful routes. If he can start scoring more touchdowns he will see his name mentioned among some of the best to play.
90. Jadeveon Clowney, DE — Houston Texans
A year ago he may have been a nominee for the biggest bust. 2014 first overall pick Jadeveon Clowney struggled mightily to get going and injuries kept slowing him down. Ironically enough, it was an injury that kick-started his 2016 season. After defensive end J.J. Watt was lost for the year, the Texans moved Clowney to defensive end from his outside linebacker spot. He was great in that role and could finally see his potential realized.
Oct 16, 2016; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake (left) talks with Dolphins defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh (93) during the second half against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Hard Rock Stadium. The Dolphins won 30-15. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
91. Cameron Wake, DE — Miami Dolphins
He was one of the few people to be able to go the CFL route and eventually carve out a good NFL career. Miami Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake isn’t just a player who took the long route to have a decent career though, he did so to be one of the better pass rushers during his time on the field. Now in his mid-30s, Wake is still a force and was part of a nice run for Miami in 2016.
92. Leonard Williams, DT — New York Jets
The New York Jets are a bad football team. They did something right though when they drafted nose tackle Leonard Williams out of USC. He was considered the best overall player by some, and the Jets were more than happy to snatch him up. As of now, he’s the best in the league to wear No. 92.
93. Ndamukong Suh, DT — Miami Dolphins
The Miami Dolphins strike again, this time with defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. Originally a member of the Detroit Lions, Suh has been solid since moving to South Beach. He’s one of the strongest players in the game and can alter offensive game plans with his ability to disrupt not only the running game, but the passing game as well.
Nov 27, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan (94) celebrates a quarterback sack against the Los Angeles Rams in the second half at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Saints won, 49-21. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
94. Cameron Jordan, DE — New Orleans Saints
The past few seasons the New Orleans Saints have been terrible on defense. They hope this most recent draft could help change that. That doesn’t mean some veterans on the team can’t be contributors. Defensive end Cameron Jordan for instance is a very talented player. More so than anyone else currently wearing No. 94.
For some reason, No. 95 is a pretty boring number in the league. There’s not a lot of talent out there sporting this number, but after the 2017 NFL Draft that changed. The Cleveland Browns selected Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett first overall, and he immediately becomes the best player to wear his jersey number. Of course, like Leonard Fournette earlier, not ever playing a down means this is a projection. However, this is one to feel good about.
96. Muhammad Wilkerson, DE — New York Jets
Again the New York Jets got something right. Their defensive line still has the ability to be among the best in the league with the aforementioned Leonard Williams, as well as defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson. Now if they can just put some talent into other positions — like they have with their linemen — the Jets may finally start to win some games.
He was overshadowed by teammate Danielle Hunter, but Minnesota Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen is still one of the best edge linemen in the entire NFL. Although most guys at his position get praise for their quarterback sacks, Griffen may be just as good at stopping the run. He’s a great player and walks away with the No. 97 in our jersey number 2017 NFL power rankings.
98. Brian Orakpo, OLB — Tennessee Titans
The Washington Redskins had a great player in Brian Orakpo, but the edge rusher struggled with injuries for them. This may have been the reason they allowed him to walk in free agency and the Tennessee Titans couldn’t be happier. No. 98 is a hard worker who helped the Titans become a respectable defense yet again.
A few numbers back, Danielle Hunter was mentioned. The Vikings defensive end deserves an honorable mention here, and if this ranking was based solely on 2016 he would be the choice. Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt is clearly the better player, but he missed most of the year with a back injury. Now fully healthy, there’s no reason to think he won’t be one of the best players — not just defenders — in the entire NFL.