Best Current Players in NFL by Uniform Number, 1-99

Brian Wright@@BrianWright86Correspondent IIAugust 10, 2011

Best Current Players in NFL by Uniform Number, 1-99

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    Sometimes football is a game of numbers.

    Three points equals a field goal, six points a touchdown; 16 games—for now—makes up a regular season.

    That thought can be expanded to the players on the field—not just in the statistical figures they put up, but in the numbers they sport on their uniforms each week.

    Listed here are the premier players wearing each numerical figure (No. 1 through 99) in the NFL today.

No. 1: Mat McBriar

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    You're all prepared for a list of the best players in the NFL. And who do we start off with? A punter. 

    Well, the only notable quarterback sporting No. 1 is rookie Cam Newton, and he has yet to prove his worth in the pros yet. That's why the choice is the Cowboys' McBriar, who was named to the NFC roster in last year's Pro Bowl.

No. 2: Matt Ryan

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    He is the rising star in the NFL's quarterbacking fraternity. He guided the Atlanta Falcons to the best record in the NFC. And although they suffered defeat in their first postseason game, they are heavy favorites to return to the playoffs again and for many years to come...thanks in part to the play of Matt Ryan.

No. 3: Stephen Gostkowski

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    The first entry was a punter. Now here comes a kicker—but a good one.

    Gostkowski suffered through injuries last season but managed to do well when he was on the field. He was 10-of-13 on field goals and was a perfect 26-of-26 on extra-point attempts.

No. 4: Kevin Kolb

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    The Cardinals are hoping this former Eagles backup can rise to the occasion in Arizona. Kolb has put up impressive statistics in his limited time behind center in Philadelphia.

No. 5: Joe Flacco

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    Josh Freeman is another good young QB sporting No. 5, but Flacco can boast three playoff appearances in three NFL seasons. If all goes well, he'll be 4-for-4.

No. 6: Jay Cutler

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    Despite the complaints from fans and media, Cutler led the Bears to an NFC Championship Game appearance—even with a terrible offensive line. In five seasons, the former Vanderbilt QB has tossed 104 touchdown passes.

No. 7: Michael Vick

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    The two Pennsylvania QBs are in a tussle for this spot, but Vick's 2010 resurgence puts him ahead of Big Ben Roethlisberger in terms of being better right now.

    In leading the Eagles to a playoff berth last season, Vick recorded the most passing yards and touchdowns in his career.

No. 8: Matt Schaub

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    After being a backup in Atlanta, Schaub is front and center in Houston. He's thrown for more than 4,300 yards in each of the previous two seasons.

No. 9: Drew Brees

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    The Super Bowl XLIV Most Valuable Player has seen his career skyrocket ever since arriving in New Orleans. Brees puts up top-notch passing numbers each year leading one of the most exciting offenses in the NFL.

No. 10: DeSean Jackson

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    With his holdout now over, DeSean Jackson can continue being one of the most electric players on the field.

    He has the capability to create a touchdown at any time. The New York Giants sure know that.

No. 11: Larry Fitzgerald

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    His 2010 statistics read this way: 90 receptions and 1,137 yards. With a potentially reliable starter behind center in Kevin Kolb now in place, Fitzgerald's numbers have the capability of being even better.

No. 12: Tom Brady

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    Arguably the best quarterback in the NFL today and maybe one of the 10 best to ever play the position. For a while this was an easy call, but the recent ascent of Aaron Rodgers made it a little tougher.

No. 13: Steve Johnson

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    He became more well-known last year for his awful dropped pass against Pittsburgh, but Steve Johnson had a breakout season. He posted 82 receptions, 1,073 yards and 10 touchdown catches.

No. 14: Ryan Fitzpatrick

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    The selection pool for this number was quite shallow, which is the reason why the Harvard graduate makes the grade. Fitzpatrick goes into 2011 as the Bills' starting quarterback coming off a year in which he threw for 3,000 yards and 23 touchdowns.

No. 15: Michael Crabtree

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    Once again, Tim Tebow plays second fiddle. Crabtree averaged 13.5 yards a reception and scored six touchdowns in his first full season with the 49ers.

No. 16: Josh Cribbs

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    Once one of the best kick and punt return specialists in the game, Cribbs has dropped off in production slightly. That doesn't mean he's not a threat to reach pay dirt when he touches the ball.

No. 17: Philip Rivers

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    Rivers continues to put up league-leading figures. In 2010, he topped the NFL in passing yardage, edging out second-place Peyton Manning. In all, he's thrown 136 touchdowns compared to just 58 interceptions.

No. 18: Peyton Manning

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    Picking Peyton Manning as the best to wear No. 18 is as easy as picking Manning's Colts to have at least 10 wins each year.

No. 19: Brandon Marshall

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    Once the best No. 15 when he was a member of the Broncos, Marshall is now the tops four digits up. Last year was a statistical drop-off compared to his previous three seasons. He'll be called upon to lead a struggling Miami offense to respectability.

No. 20: Ed Reed

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    Still at the top of his game, Reed had a league-best eight interceptions last season. That's made even more impressive considering that he missed six games due to injury. Reed is a certain Hall of Famer when he hangs it up.

No. 21: Charles Woodson

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    Nnamdi Asomugha may be getting all the attention this offseason, but Charles Woodson is the leader of the secondary on the defending Super Bowl champs. The former Heisman Trophy winner hadn't lost much in his 13th NFL season, one in which he had a career-best 92 tackles and five forced fumbles.

No. 22: Asante Samuel

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    While Nnamdi Asomugha doesn't quite cut it at No. 21, his new teammate in Philly does when it comes to the next number up.

    Samuel shined with the Pats and continues to do so with the Eagles. Right now, it appears as if he'll stay with the team wearing midnight green to create a three-headed monster in the secondary.

No. 23: Arian Foster

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    There's no way Foster would have made this list if it were August of last year. But a 2010 campaign that included 1,616 yards on the ground, averaging 4.9 yards per carry and scoring a total of 18 touchdowns changed all that.

No. 24: Darrelle Revis

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    A semi-tough call between the best young cornerback in the game (Revis) and the best cornerback of this era (Champ Bailey). The nod goes to the Jets' No. 24, who has picked off 14 passes and frustrated many wide receivers in his four seasons in the league.

No. 25: Jamaal Charles

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    The Chiefs took Charles in the third round of the 2008 NFL draft. So far, he's showing that Kansas City chose wisely. The former Texas Longhorn was named a First Team All-Pro by the Associated Press due to totaling 1,467 yards rushing on just 230 carries (6.4-yard average).

No. 26: Antrel Rolle

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    The former Arizona Cardinal posted 87 tackles and an interception in his first year as a member of the New York Giants. One impressive stat on his résumé is he has returned four of his picks for touchdowns.

No. 27: Ray Rice

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    Newcomer Ricky Williams gets to share part of the load, but it's a certainty that Rice will be the feature back in the Baltimore Ravens offense. In just three seasons, Rice is already third on the franchise's all-time rushing yardage list.

No. 28: Adrian Peterson

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    The stellar Vikings running back has compiled standout numbers (5,782 rushing yards, 52 rushing TDs) in his four-year NFL stint. Chris Johnson can make a case, but A.P. is the choice.

No. 29: Eric Berry

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    Eric Berry was highly touted coming out of the University of Tennessee, and his rookie year lived up to the expectations. Berry opened up his NFL career by leading the Chiefs in interceptions (four) and being elected to the Pro Bowl as Kansas City reached the playoffs.

No. 30: LaRon Landry

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    Landry spent most of 2010 on the disabled list, but he has the potential to be a star at strong safety if he can remain healthy. One shining moment last year came in Week 5, when he recorded 13 solo tackles and a key interception in a Redskins win over the Packers.

No. 31: Brandon Meriweather

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    The Patriots' young safety has had his share of problems on and off the field, but his talent and potential cannot be disputed. In each of the past two seasons, he has made the trip to the Pro Bowl.

No. 32: Maurice Jones-Drew

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    The 2009 campaign has been the best for the former UCLA standout (1,391 rushing yards, 15 rushing touchdowns), but 2010 wasn't a major drop-off (1,324 yards, five TDs). He's become less of a threat as a pass receiver, but he's awfully dangerous running the football.

No. 33: Michael Turner

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    Turner totaled 334 carries for 1,371 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground. He earned his second Pro Bowl selection after leading the NFC in rushing yards and tying Vikings running back Adrian Peterson for the NFL lead in rushing touchdowns.

No. 34: Ovie Mughelli

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    The man helping pave the way for Turner's success is Ovie Mughelli. He joined Turner in Hawaii this past year. In total, the Falcons averaged 118.2 yards per game on the ground in 2010.

No. 35: Mike Tolbert

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    The diminutive Tolbert had a spike in his numbers in 2010, gaining 735 yards rushing and scoring 11 touchdowns. One issue he'll need to take care of in 2011 is holding on to the football, as he had five fumbles last season.

No. 36: Nick Collins

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    A touchdown return of an interception in the Super Bowl doesn't hurt in trying to become recognized in the NFL circles. Collins picked off Ben Roethlisberger and took it back to pay dirt to give the Packers a 14-0 lead in last year's title game.

No. 37: Sam Shields

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    Sharing the secondary spotlight with Collins is Sam Shields. Signed as a free agent by the Packers in 2010 after going undrafted, Shields proved everyone wrong with his performance in the NFC Championship Game.

    In that contest at Soldier Field, Shields had two interceptions, a sack and a forced fumble.

No. 38: Tramon Williams

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    Yet another member of the Packer secondary, Williams had his breakout game in the NFC divisional playoffs against Atlanta.

    The fifth-year player picked off Matt Ryan twice. The latter of the two thefts resulted in a 70-yard runback for a touchdown just before halftime. That score helped put the game away.

No. 39: Steven Jackson

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    Fantasy football owners may be discouraged to take Jackson, who had his worst yards per carry output in 2010. But with Sam Bradford with him in the backfield, all signs point to a movement back to where he was from 2006 through 2009.

No. 40: Peyton Hillis

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    Like Arian Foster, Hillis is another recent running back entry to this list. He bowled over opponents on his way to an 1,177-yard rushing season in 2010. Hillis reached the end zone on 13 occasions.

No. 41: Roman Harper

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    Ever since injuries plagued his rookie campaign in 2006, Harper has been quite durable. More recently, he's been quite productive. The 2009 and 2010 seasons have resulted in Pro Bowl selections.

No. 42: Darren Sharper

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    Ailments played a factor in Darren Sharper's 2010. Provided health is on his side, the veteran should be able to build on a 2009 season that saw him grab nine interceptions and record 71 tackles.

No. 43: Troy Polamalu

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    A man who always seems to be in the right place at the right time, Polamalu has made the Pro Bowl six times. This stalwart of the Steelers defense had 63 tackles and seven picks in 2010.

No. 44: Vonta Leach

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    The Ravens got one of the NFL's best blocking fullbacks when they inked Leach this offseason.

    Leach was vital in Arian Foster posting a league-best 1,616 rushing yards and 16 rushing touchdowns last year.

No. 45: Mike Sellers

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    Veteran fullback Mike Sellers made his first Pro Bowl in 2009.

No. 46: Jon Dorenbos

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    You know a number has a paucity of talent when the best player is a long snapper. Dorenbos has been with the Eagles since 2006 and was a member of the 2009 Pro Bowl roster.

No. 47: Chris Cooley

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    Cooley is one of the only bright spots on a troubled Redskins team. The Washington tight end is coming off a year in which he had 849 yards receiving and averaged 11 yards per catch.

No. 48: DeAndre McDaniel

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    In scouring the NFL rosters, it appears as if the No. 48 is given to undrafted free agents who have a flicker of a chance of making the final cut.

    McDaniel came out of Clemson and has been picked up by the New Orleans Saints. If he becomes a star, you heard it here first.

No. 49: Tony Richardson

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    Although he's reaching the end of his career, Richardson can still be called upon to make key blocks and make key receptions.

No. 50: Ernie Sims

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    The former Eagle and Lion linebacker inked a deal with the Indianapolis Colts on August 2. Since coming into the league in 2006, Sims has recorded 476 tackles and five forced fumbles.

No. 51: Jonathan Vilma

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    The three-time Pro Bowler has led the Saints in tackles in each of the past three years. Last season, Vilma had 105 tackles to go along with four sacks.

No. 52: Ray Lewis

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    Even as he enters his 16th pro season, Ray Lewis is still one of the game's top linebackers and remains the face of the Baltimore Ravens. Clay Matthews and Patrick Willis are honorable mentions.

No. 53: Maurkice Pouncey

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    In short order, the University of Florida product has established himself as a cog in the Steelers offensive line. Pouncey had a great rookie year in 2010, starting all 16 games and earning a Pro Bowl nod.

No. 54: Brian Urlacher

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    Urlacher's career highlights include seven Pro Bowl appearances, the 2005 Defensive Player of the Year award and Defensive Rookie of the Year honors in 2000.

No. 55: Terrell Suggs

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    Proof that Suggs is one of the best at his position can be found in two milestones that he's within a stone's throw of achieving. The Baltimore linebacker is only five tackles short of 500 and 1.5 sacks short of 70 for his pro career.

    Chicago Bears LB Lance Briggs comes in at No. 2 to be the top No. 55.

No. 56: LaMarr Woodley

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    Woodley is establishing himself as a consistently productive member of the Pittsburgh defensive corps. In the past three years, he has totaled 35 sacks and has recorded at least 50 tackles in each of those seasons.

No. 57: Bart Scott

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    This imposing defender has reaped the rewards of his former defensive coordinator and current head coach Rex Ryan. Scott starred in Baltimore before making the move up north to help the New York Jets become one of the best defenses in football.

No. 58: Trent Cole

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    An excellent pass-rusher, Cole has had at least 10 sacks in each of the past four seasons.

    With the newly formed lockdown secondary in place, Cole could have more opportunities to pursue the quarterback.

No. 59: DeMeco Ryans

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    The Houston Texans are the only franchise that Ryans has ever played for in a career that started back in 2006.

    Since then, he has started in every game and has recorded a total of 404 tackles.

No. 60: D'Brickashaw Ferguson

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    His efforts at the University of Virginia made him a star on the college level. His performance so far as a New York Jet has given him due recognition on the pro level. Ferguson has been elected to the Pro Bowl in each of the past two seasons.

No. 61: Nick Hardwick

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    At Purdue, Nick Hardwick blocked for Drew Brees. With the Chargers, he at first blocked for Brees again. But more recently, he's been protecting the solid arm of Philip Rivers. Hardwick made his only Pro Bowl in 2006.

No. 62: Todd McClure

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    McClure defines durable. He has started 166 of his 168 games at center and is currently on a streak of 148 consecutive starts.

No. 63: Jeff Saturday

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    He's easily the most recognized center in the game. That's very true when you consider that it's rare if any center is recognized (unless he has a penalty called on him).

    But Saturday is not one to make mistakes. Peyton Manning's longstanding right-hand man on the offensive line has headed to the Pro Bowl on five occasions and has been listed on the All-Pro team four times.

No. 64: Samson Satele

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    Once a member of the Miami Dolphins, Satele is lining up with the silver and black. In 2010, helped running back Darren McFadden have a breakout year.

No. 65: Andre Gurode

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    The five-time Pro Bowler has been one of the best centers in the league. He also helped keep together an offense that lost Tony Romo midway through last season. Despite the setback, the Cowboys were seventh in offense.

No. 66: Kyle DeVan

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    DeVan has taken a curious route to the NFL. He went from being a substitute teacher to playing with the Boise Burn of Arena Football 2 to being a starter at right guard on the Indianapolis Colts. And with the lack of many players with his number, he becomes the top No. 66 in the game.

No. 67: Ryan Kalil

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    Kalil gradually established himself as a starter on the Carolina Panthers offensive line. For the past two seasons, he's been on the NFC roster in the Pro Bowl.

No. 68: Kris Dielman

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    The San Diego left guard has been with the club since 2003. The honors received so far include four Pro Bowls, two second team All-Pro selections and inclusion in the Chargers' 50th Anniversary squad.

No. 69: Jared Allen

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    Allen's production has tailed off a bit since 2007 and 2008. Nevertheless, he's posted at least 10 sacks in five of his seven years playing in the NFL. All told, it's 83 sacks and 393 tackles for the star defensive end.

No. 70: Logan Mankins

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    Mankins missed seven games during the 2010 season due to a contractual holdout. But now, his financial dealings with his current team are straightened out, which can only be more of a benefit to the Patriots.

No. 71: Jason Peters

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    Peters was an All-Pro with Buffalo, and that hasn't changed since he's gone to Philadelphia. This No. 71 has been a Pro Bowler in each of the previous four seasons.

No. 72: Osi Umenyiora

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    No matter what team he plays for or what his attitude level is, Osi can pose a problem for any opposing offense looking to find success. It'll be tough to duplicate his 2005 season, one that saw him get 14.5 sacks and 70 tackles.

    The 2010 season wasn't too bad either. Umenyiora had 11.5 sacks as well as a staggering 10 forced fumbles.

No. 73: Joe Thomas

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    The Cleveland Browns couldn't be more satisfied with their No. 3 overall selection in 2007's NFL draft. Joe Thomas came out of the University of Wisconsin, and he's been effective on the pro level at badgering defensive players with an eye on getting to the quarterback or ball carrier.

    Thomas has made the Pro Bowl in each of his four NFL seasons.

No. 74: Nick Mangold

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    The New York Jets boast one of the league's top offensive lines, with much thanks going to Nick Mangold.

    He's been supremely durable, having missed no games for five consecutive seasons. He's also good at protecting his quarterback, allowing just one sack during the course of the 2010 campaign.

No. 75: Vince Wilfork

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    It's hard not to miss the 325-pounder. It's also not hard to see the talents he brings to the New England Patriots. In playing both defensive tackle and defensive end last year, Wilfork totaled 57 tackles and reached his third Pro Bowl.

No. 76: Chris Snee

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    The former Boston College product allowed just two sacks of Eli Manning in 2010. His stability on the New York Giants' offensive line has made his head coach (and father-in-law) quite happy.

No. 77: Jake Long

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    There is always a great risk in taking a player No. 1 overall. There is always the potential for one to be a complete bust (JaMarcus Russell).

    Jake Long is unlikely to ever fall into that category. He's made the Pro Bowl three straight times and will certainly become a regular in Hawaii.

No. 78: Ryan Clady

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    Also part of the same 2008 draft class is Ryan Clady, who was taken 11 spots after Jake Long. Clady has done a fine job since joining the Denver Broncos, making the All-Pro team in 2008 and 2009.

No. 79: Ben Ijalana

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    In a number that doesn't have much to offer, we went with a first-year offensive lineman that was taken with the 49th pick in the most recent NFL draft. The Colts expect big things from Ijalana, as he is slated to start as one of the team's tackles.

No. 80: Andre Johnson

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    The Texans are the chic pick to reach the playoffs, and Johnson is the main reason why.

    In eight seasons, all with Houston, he has 9,164 yards receiving to go along with 50 touchdowns.

No. 81: Calvin Johnson

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    If the rest of the NFL hasn't taken note of Calvin Johnson, it soon will find out. The Georgia Tech star has sparkled in Detroit, catching 12 TD passes and accumulating 1,120 yards receiving for an up-and-coming Lions team.

No. 82: Jason Witten

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    With Witten, hauling in 90 or more catches and totaling 1,000 or more yards is nearly a guarantee. Provided QB Tony Romo is healthy, expect more of the same from the Dallas tight end.

No. 83: Wes Welker

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    Last season, the ever-dependable Welker didn't put up quite the numbers he did from 2007-09. That said, having seven TD catches isn't too bad. With Chad Ochocinco now in the fold, Welker could see more single-coverage opportunities.

No. 84: Roddy White

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    Matt Ryan's favorite target has been Roddy White—and with good reason.

    White has posted at least 1,000 receiving yards in each of the past four years and has found pay dirt 28 times since 2008. Last season, he was first in catches and second in receiving yards.

No. 85: Antonio Gates

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    Gates has gracefully followed in the footsteps of Kellen Winslow as another great pass-catching tight end in San Diego. The former hoopster from Kent State has totaled 67 touchdowns and more than 6,700 yards receiving.

No. 86: Hines Ward

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    It's been an up-and-down offseason for Hines Ward. First, there was the triumph of winning Dancing with the Stars. Then came the harsh reality of a DUI arrest on July 9. 

    On the field, he has become one of the greatest wide receivers in the Steelers' glorious history, with more than 11,000 receiving yards to his credit.

No. 87: Reggie Wayne

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    Wayne is reaping the benefits of having a Hall of Fame quarterback throwing him passes week after week. The Indy wideout has accumulated more than 10,000 receiving yards in his career. Last year, he posted a career best in receptions (111).

No. 88: Tony Gonzalez

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    Tony Gonzalez, when he retires, will go down as the greatest tight end of his era and one of the best ever at the position. He's totaled more than 1,000 receptions and over 12,000 receiving yards in his wondrous career.

    Once a star with the Kansas City Chiefs, Gonzalez is helping turn the Atlanta Falcons into a formidable offense.

No. 89: Steve Smith

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    Any injury to Smith would be a major setback to a Panthers team that's trying to rebuild. Smith is not the same guy that was one of the best WRs in the game from 2005-08, but he still has the capabilities to be a top-flight pass-catcher.

No. 90: Julius Peppers

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    In a hotly contested battle, the established Bears defensive end edges out up-and-coming Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, along with Packers DT B.J. Raji and Texans converted linebacker Mario Williams.

    Consistently a premier pass rusher, Peppers has averaged 10 sacks over the past seven seasons. He's also been elected to the Pro Bowl on six occasions.

No. 91: Justin Tuck

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    Plenty of talented candidates to take this spot, including two Penn State products: Cameron Wake and Tamba Hali.

    Justin Tuck, though, takes the spot in representing No. 91. He is a player who can rush the passer and jar the ball loose. In 2010, Tuck had 12 sacks to go along with six forced fumbles.

No. 92: Haloti Ngata

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    In Ngata's brief five-year career, last season was definitely his best. Ngata compiled the most sacks, tackles and passes defended in his NFL life.

No. 93: Dwight Freeney

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    Freeney was one of the best pass-rushers in the game during the last decade, and he's continued to put that fear into opposing quarterbacks in this decade. The 2010 season marked the third straight campaign in which he recorded at least 10 sacks.

No. 94: DeMarcus Ware

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    His pass-rushing excellence is shown by the fact that he's led the NFL in sacks in two of the past three seasons. Ware has reached the Pro Bowl five times in his six pro years.

No. 95: Shaun Phillips

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    Shaun Phillips left Purdue University as the school's all-time sack leader with 33.5. In seven seasons with San Diego, he has 56.5. In addition, he's forced 18 fumbles.

No. 96: Tommie Harris

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    According to the team site, Harris will don No. 96 when he joins the Indianapolis Colts. Although his best days are behind him, he can still be effective when it comes to stopping the run.

No. 97: Calvin Pace

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    Pace was selected No. 18 overall out of Wake Forest. After spending some time with the Arizona Cardinals, Pace signed with the Jets as a free agent in 2008. He's yet to fully live up to his potential, but he has the chance to shine in a star-laden New York defense.

No. 98: Robert Mathis

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    The Colts defensive end has represented the AFC in the past three Pro Bowls. In 2010, he recorded 60 tackles and finished in a share for 10th in the league with 11 sacks.

No. 99: Brett Keisel

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    Wrapping up the marathon list is the Steelers' defensive end out of BYU, who made his first Pro Bowl in 2010.

    His talents last year got overshadowed by the beard he grew. Now, the beard is gone. Pittsburgh fans hope his defensive talents stay.