Starting with the back half of our Top NFL Players at Each Jersey Number list, we now take a look at the players ranging from 49 to 25. The list begins with a few young linebackers who have made their presence felt early in their careers. We follow by a stretch of running backs to finish.
49. Tremaine Edmunds, Buffalo Bills
Size, speed, athleticism, Edmunds has the entire arsenal to be the next great linebacker in the NFL. Only 22 years old and heading into his third season in Buffalo, he has already racked up 236 tackles, three interceptions, and two forced fumbles as the leader of Lezlie Frazier’s defense. As the centerpiece of a unit that finished top three in total defense last season, Edmunds shined. He was en route to his first-ever pro bowl selection, the first one for a Bills linebacker since 2016.
Honorable Mentions: Daniel Sorensen, Kansas City Chiefs/ Shaquem Griffin, Seattle Seahawks
48. Bud Dupree, Pittsburgh Steelers
A highly touted talent out of the University of Kentucky, Dupree had his best season last year trying for a long term deal in Pittsburgh. In 16 games, playing alongside one of the best edge rushers in the league in TJ Watt, the 26-year-old racked up 11.5 sacks and four forced fumbles in a dominant year for the Steelers defense. A prototypical outside linebacker in today’s NFL he can win with both power and speed. He possesses violent hands to beat opposing offensive tackles around the corner.
Honorable Mentions: Jordan Jenkins, New York Jets/ Patrick Onwuasor, Baltimore Ravens
47. Joe Schobert, Jacksonville Jaguars
The former Cleveland Brown signed with the Jaguars this offseason after a solid 2019 campaign that saw him record 133 tackles and four interceptions in 16 games. With the ability to cover backs out of the backfield along with the range to make tackles sideline to sideline in the run game, Schobert will have an immediate impact on the field and in the locker room. This leadership is huge for a Jaguars team that has seen many vital players leave in free agency the past few seasons.
Honorable Mentions: Nathan Gerry, Philadelphia Eagles/ Vince Biegel, Miami Dolphins
46. Neville Hewitt, New York Jets
An unpopular number in the NFL, the former Dolphin, and now New York Jets linebacker is the best number 46 in the NFL. After an injury to starting Jets linebacker CJ Mosley that forced him to miss time last season, Hewitt had his best season to date in an expanded role with the team, recording 75 tackles, nine passes defended, and two interceptions in 12 games. After signing a one-year extension for his strong play in 2019 early on this offseason, look for him again to be a contributor to the Jets linebacking core.
Honorable Mentions: Morgan Cox, Baltimore Ravens/ Aaron Brewer, Arizona Cardinals
45. Deion Jones, Atlanta Falcons
In a tight race between two former LSU linebackers, Jones gained the edge over White. A perfect middle linebacker for the passing evolution the league has seen over the last decade, Jones can limit the quick passing game of opposing offenses with his 4.3 closing speed. Along with this, he has the speed to cover opposing running backs out of the backfield and the athleticism to cover tight ends, making him the perfect linebacker for Dan Quinn’s cover three defensive scheme.
Honorable Mentions: Devin White, Tampa Bay Buccaneers/ Alexander Johnson, Denver Broncos
44. Marlon Humphrey, Baltimore Ravens
One of the top young cornerbacks in the league, Humphrey shined with the Ravens last season in his first year starting for the team, leading to his first-ever pro bowl and all-pro selections. Possessing elite coverage skills and the physicality to match up with any opposing receiver, Humphrey held opposing quarterbacks to just a 68.4 passer rating when they targeted him last season. Paired with longtime Kansas City Chief Marcus Peters in a secondary that also features standout safety Earl Thomas, look for him to remain one of the best defensive backs in the league over the next few years.
Honorable Mentions: Kyle Juszczyk, San Francisco 49ers/ Vic Beasley, Tennessee Titans
43. Marcus Williams, New Orleans Saints
Always remembered as the guy who missed the tackle on the Minneapolis Miracle, Williams has quickly become one of the most underrated safeties in the league over the past three seasons. In 51 games with the team, the 23-year-old has established himself quickly as the leader of the secondary in New Orleans with 187 tackles, 23 pass deflections, and ten interceptions. One of the best cover safeties in football, Williams has also made strides in his run defense and has transformed from a pure deep safety into someone that can come down into the box and make plays.
Honorable Mentions: Haason Reddick, Arizona Cardinals/ John Johnson, Los Angeles Rams
42. Karl Joseph, Cleveland Browns
Selected in the first round of the 2016 draft by the newly moved Oakland Raiders, Joseph remains a starting-caliber NFL safety despite inconsistencies. Known for his aggressive play style and strong tackling skills, he thrives close to the line of scrimmage as a box safety as he lacks the ideal size to cover taller tight ends and receivers. After a foot injury forced him to miss most of last season, Joseph’s potential remains to play his best football with the Browns in the proper role next season.
Honorable Mentions: Devon Kennard, Arizona Cardinals/ Anthony Sherman, Kansas City Chiefs
41. Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints
Not a prototypical number for running backs in the NFL, the Saints star back is the best player to wear the number 41. Utilizing his great vision out of the backfield, Kamara can shed tackles with a combination of agility, stability, and footwork. Along with this, what separates him from other backs is his pass-catching abilities as he can run an entire route tree from the slot, the outside, or in the backfield, leading to over 240 receptions during his first three years in the league.
Honorable Mentions: Josh Allen, Jacksonville Jaguars/ Zach Cunningham, Houston Texans
40. Jarrad Davis, Detroit Lions
The Detroit linebacker had one of his best seasons as a pro in 2019 with 63 tackles, two sacks, and three forced fumbles in 11 games. While Davis is one of the most physical linebackers in the game, he often lacks consistency in his run defense at the linebacker spot, leading him to be late to plug the proper rushing lanes. Along with this, he lacks the mobility and lateral movement to get from sideline to sidelines, leading to improper tackling form. Heading into his fourth year in the league, 2020 is a make or break year for Davis as he will try for a contract extension with the Lions.
Honorable Mentions: Paul Worrilow, Philadelphia Eagles/ Nik Needham, Miami Dolphins
39. Minkah Fitzpatrick, Pittsburgh Steelers
A first-team all pro and a member of the AFC Pro Bowl team last season, he is one of the most versatile players in the league. Traded from Miami to Pittsburgh midway through last season, Fitzpatrick shined in 14 games with the Steelers, racking up 57 tackles, five interceptions, and nine passes defended. With the ability to play strong safety and drop down into the box and cover slot receivers and tight ends, he is truly a rare talent on defense and a perfect fit in Pittsburgh.
Honorable Mentions: Eddie Jackson, Chicago Bears/ Jamal Agnew, Detroit Lions
38. Jeff Heath, Oakland Raiders
With no superstars in the league wearing the number 38, Heath is the best player wearing this jersey number. A solid player over his seven seasons with the Cowboys, he averaged 49 tackles, three passes defended, and one interception in 106 games. After Dallas chose to move on this past offseason, Heath signed a two year deal with the newly relocated Las Vegas Raiders and looks to have the inside track to start at strong safety for the team in the 2020 season.
Honorable Mentions: T.J. Carrie, Indianapolis Colts/ Brandon Bolden, New England Patriots
37. Quandre Diggs, Seattle Seahawks
After being traded from the Lions to Seattle last season, Diggs played some of the best football of his career, with five interceptions and 41 tackles in five games with the team. With excellent play speed, he can make plays from sideline to sideline as the center fielder for Pete Carroll’s defense. However, after the recent acquisition of Jamal Adams, Diggs will be fighting for playing time in a crowded safety room.
Honorable Mentions: Johnathan Cyprien, Atlanta Falcons/ Javorius Allen, New York Giants
36. Shawn Williams, Cincinnati Bengals
A run of three straight safeties continues with Williams, who continues to play good football at the age of 29. Paired up with one of the best coverage safeties in the game in Jesse Bates, he can move all around the defense for the Bengals, taking snaps at linebacker and deep safety last season. After 224 tackles and six interceptions over the past two seasons, Williams will look to keep up this strong play as he enters the final year of his deal in Cincinnati.
Honorable Mentions: D.J. Swearinger, New Orleans Saints/ Chuck Clark, Baltimore Ravens
35. Pierre Desir, New York Jets
An up and coming corner, Desir landed with the Jets this offseason after two years with the Colts. Excelling in zone coverage, he had his best two seasons in Indianapolis under defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus with two interceptions and 111 tackles in 18 games started with the team. Heading into next season, Desir should start immediately at corner for a Jets team that has struggled to find any consistency at the position over the past few seasons.
Honorable Mentions: Boston Scott, Philadelphia Eagles/ Charvarius Ward, Kansas City Chiefs
34. Jordan Howard, Miami Dolphins
After a brief one year stint with the Eagles, the former Bears running back elected to sign with the Dolphins. A consistent player over his four seasons in the league, Howard has rushed for over 3800 yards and 30 touchdowns in 57 games. Standing 6 feet tall and weighing over 220 pounds, he is a prototypical power back that offers little in the passing game. Paired with Matt Breida in Miami next season, look for Howard to receive the majority of his snaps on early rushing downs along with down near the goal-line for offensive coordinator Chan Gailey.
Honorable Mentions: Terrell Edmunds, Pittsburgh Steelers/ Brian Poole, New York Jets
33. Jamal Adams, Seattle Seahawks
The disgruntled Jets safety voiced his displeasure with the team this offseason before being traded to the Seahawks. In his best season as a pro last year, Adams recorded 75 tackles, 6.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles en route to a pro bowl and all-pro selection. A top-five defensive player in the game, he is the perfect defender in today’s NFL with his ability to cover receivers, stop the run, and rush the passer from his safety spot.
Honorable Mentions: Derwin James, Los Angeles Chargers/ Tre Boston, Carolina Panthers
32. Tyrann Mathieu, Kansas City Chiefs
The leader of the Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs defense, the honey badger, beat out longtime Patriot Devin McCourty for the best number 32 in the league. A rare breed of athleticism, leadership, and football instincts, Mathieu can read any play on the field and snuff it out from his free safety spot. A perfect fit for defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s system, he can line up all over the field, taking snaps at defensive linemen, linebacker, and slot corner last season.
Honorable Mentions: Devin McCourty, New England Patriots/ Chris Carson, Seattle Seahawks
31. Kevin Byard, Tennessee Titans
One of the most underrated defensive players in the entire NFL, Byard is one of the best free safeties in the game. Excelling in a variety of roles as the leader of the Titans defense, he can patrol the deep middle of the defense, along with matching up with tight ends in the slot. The league leader in interceptions since 2017, he uses his excellent ball skills and football intelligence to create turnovers. A willing tackler in run support also, Byard has racked up over 80 tackles the last three seasons.
Honorable Mentions: Byron Jones, Miami Dolphins/ Justin Simmons, Denver Broncos
30. Phillip Lindsay, Denver Broncos
With over 1,000 rushing yards in each of his first two seasons, Lindsay has quickly established himself as the lead back in Denver. While he remains undersized at just 5’8, he makes up for it with incredible athleticism and speed out of the backfield. A factor in the receiving game also, Lindsay has caught over 30 passes the last two seasons and looks to once again be an integral part of an improving Broncos offense next season.
Honorable Mentions: James Conner, Pittsburgh Steelers/ Jessie Bates, Cincinnati Bengals
29. Earl Thomas, Baltimore Ravens
A future Hall of Famer and one of the best players to ever wear 29, Thomas is a natural choice for this number. A six-time pro bowler and a three-time member of the all-pro team, he has been playing at a high level ever since being drafted in 2010. Still one of the best deep safeties in the NFL, Thomas had a solid season in 2019 in his first year in Baltimore, racking up 49 tackles, two interceptions, and a forced fumble in 15 games.
Praised for his leadership by Baltimore teammates and by head coach John Harbaugh, he is the safety that other teams in the league dream of having.
Honorable Mentions: Malik Hooker, Indianapolis Colts/ Tarik Cohen, Chicago Bears
28. Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals
The best player for a Bengals team that hasn’t had much to celebrate over the past few seasons, Mixon has been very productive over his first three seasons in the league. A rare talent at running back, he has the power to run people over along with the balance and agility to make opposing defenders miss. With 29 carries of 10 or more yards last season, he is a big play waiting to happen in an offense in Cincinnati that needs more playmakers.
Honorable Mentions: Josh Jacobs, Las Vegas Raiders/ Melvin Gordon, Denver Broncos
27. Tre’Davious White, Buffalo Bills
Beginning to receive national recognition for his play over the last two seasons, White has become one of the best shutdown corners in the NFL. In 15 games with the Bills last season, the 24-year-old recorded 58 tackles, 17 passes defended and six interceptions, earning him his first pro bowl and all-pro nods. A rare breed of excellent coverage skills and physicality, White is the complete package at corner, allowing him to shut down the other team’s top receivers week in and week out.
Honorable Mentions: Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville Jaguars/ Malcolm Jenkins, New Orleans Saints
26. Saquon Barkley, New York Giants
Riddled by injuries since being drafted by the Giants in 2018, Barkley is still one of the most explosive players in the NFL. A perfect mold at running back, he has the size, quickness, balance, and strength that make him one of the most elusive guys in the entire league. Once again, the primary option for the rebuilding Giants heading into next season, look for Saquon to be among the best backs in the league.
Honorable Mentions: Le’Veon Bell, New York Jets/ Tevin Coleman, San Francisco 49ers
25. Richard Sherman, San Francisco 49ers
In his second year in the bay area, Sherman proved he can still play at a high level. Starting in 15 games for the 49ers, the 31-year-old was an anchor in the team’s secondary, making the pro bowl team for the 5th time in his nine-year career. With some of the best ball skills in the entire league and the football smarts to go with it, Sherman is often a step ahead of the opposing receiver and a perfect fit for the 49ers defense.
Honorable Mentions: Xavien Howard, Miami Dolphins/ Chris Harris Jr. Los Angeles Chargers
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