Classifying the Best Pro Athletes by Jersey Number

Greg Maiola@Gom1094Senior Analyst IIAugust 16, 2012

Classifying the Best Pro Athletes by Jersey Number

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    This list is a look at the best athletes in the world. Sports and leagues from all over the world all considered before the hard part comes in, picking the best player by their jersey number.

    There were many worthy players that were left off the list, but there can only be one player per number.

    If you don't agree with one of my selections, comment below and tell me who you would have replaced.

    Here are the top athletes in the world by their jersey number.

No. 00: Spencer Hawes

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    Hey, he's the only one!

No. 0: Russell Westbrook

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    Russell Westbrook is young, athletic and a rising star in the NBA. He is coming off an All-Star and NBA Finals appearance. The future is bright for No. 0.

No. 1: Cam Newton

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    Cam Newton set the NFL on fire as a rookie in 2011. He set league rookie records for passing. He set an NFL record for most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback. There is a huge future for this electric player and he reps No. 1 better than any other player on this planet.

No. 2: Derek Jeter

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    The guy just doesn't age. Derek Jeter is still putting up great numbers and playing great baseball for the New York Yankees. He is not only padding numbers and setting records, he is establishing a legacy as perhaps the best Yankee ever.

No. 3: Ashley Cole

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    The Chelsea and English defender is considered to be among the world's elite. Ashley Cole played a crucial part in Chelsea's 2012 UEFA Champions League title and has consistently produced on the world's biggest stages. Dwayne Wade comes in a close second, but Cole played at a higher level than Wade did for a longer stretch, including the UEFA Champions League and Euro 2012. Wade doesn't play in a league as competitive as the EPL and didn't participate in the Olympics, giving the edge to Cole.

No. 4: Sergio Ramos

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    Segio Ramos has a World Cup, two UEFA European Championship and a La Liga title under his belt. He is the defensive force for the legendary Real Madrid and on the world's top soccer team, Spain. The No. 4 is never put to shame when Sergio Ramos puts on that Real Madrid kit.

No. 5: Albert Pujols

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    Though Albert Pujols had gotten off to a shaky start with the Angels, he is finally starting to produce. He has been considered one of the best hitters in baseball and inked a huge contract with the Angels this off-season. The No. 5 is returning to the form that made him great, which is a scary thing for the MLB.

No. 6: LeBron James

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    LeBron James has his ring. Now can he be considered the best basketball player on the planet? Now can we start to outline where he will land among the all-time greats? The guy deserves more respect. Hands down the most dominant No. 6 in sports.

No. 7: Christiano Ronaldo

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    Christiano Ronaldo is a soccer player that is a household name in America. That right there should tell you something.

    He is perhaps the most dominant soccer player there is right now. He is a goal scoring machine and nearly single-handidly led Portugal to European greatness.

    His speed, touch and brilliance makes him the easy pick for No. 7.

No. 8: Alex Ovechkin

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    Alex Ovechkin is one of the slickest players in the NHL. He is pure excitement and produces highlight reel goals on a regular basis. He is one of the faces of the NHL and is just clever on the ice. Go to a Capitals game and you will see more No. 8 jerseys in the stands than anything else.

No. 9: Drew Brees

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    Drew Brees did the impossible by making the Saints Super Bowl champions. He has also made them relevant year after year after year.

    Brees threw for an NFL record 5,476 yards last season, and chipped in 46 touchdown passes. He not only transformed the culture of New Orleans, he has earned himself a mention as the league's best quarterback.

No. 10: Lionel Messi

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    Lionel Messi is perhaps the greatest soccer player today and is even hearing whispers as the best of all time. The left footed Argentinian just scores goals and doesn't stop, even in the biggest games at the highest levels. Messi is an absolute monster and no No. 10 can come close to the dominance and production he has shown.

No. 11: Ryan Giggs

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    The Manchester United man is an absolute legend in the world of soccer. Ryan Giggs has been with Manchester since 1991 and holds the Premier League record with 271 career assists. He has been able to produce at the world's highest level for over 20 years, making him the pick for No. 11.

No. 12: Tom Brady

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    Tom Brady has appeared in five Super Bowls, winning three of them. Brady has thrown for 50 touchdowns in a season that saw New England go 16-0. Brady has won two MVP awards and made countless Pro Bowls. At the end of the day, Brady is considered one of the greatest quarterbacks ever, let alone the greatest No. 12.

No. 13: Alex Rodriguez

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    Though A-Rod is aging, his bat still benefits the Yankee lineup. He has been productive for many years in New York, even in the post-season. The No. 13 shirt hasn't been entirely unlucky for Alex Rodriguez.

No. 14: Andy Dalton

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    Andy Dalton, the Red Rocket, led the Bengals to the post-season as a rookie. He had no off-season or enough time to easily transition into the NFL game, but was still very successful as a rookie. The No. 14 has a lot of upside and a lot of expectations heading into 2012, but should be enough to keep the Bengals contenders.

No. 15: Tim Tebow

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    No, I didn't contact Skip Bayless for this pick. But Tim Tebow did take the 1-4 Broncos into the playoffs by winning the AFC West. He did pump out win after win, even though the Broncos seemed down and out in most of them. He lit up the Steelers tough defense in the playoffs and won the game. As controversial as Tebow is, his winning streak and competitive nature must be respected.

No. 16: Pau Gasol

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    Pau Gasol is always in voled with trade rumors, but always a threat for the Lakers. He is a big body who can also produce good scoring games. He is very valuable to the Lakers and very important for Spain.

No. 17: Ilya Kovalchuk

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    Ilya Kovalchuk led the Devils within two games of Stanley Cup glory in 2012. In 77 games last season, he recorded 37 goals and 46 assists. Kovalchuk is one of the greatest offensive threats in the NHL and does No. 17 proud. 

No. 18: Peyton Manning

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    Peyton Manning is perhaps the greatest regular season quarterback of all time. He is a machine and the ideal pocket passer. His Denver Broncos stint will be interesting but as long as this No. 18 is on the field, they will be a feared team.

No. 19: Scott Hartnell

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    Scott Hartnell recorded 37 goals and 30 assists for the Flyers in 82 games last season. Hartnell puts his body on the line in order to produce. making him one of the game's most exciting players. He should continue to find success in the NHL and make his No. 19 hated by every player on the opposing team.

No. 20: Ed Reed

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    Forget about retirement. Ed Reed has a shot at the all time interception mark in the NFL and has plenty of good football left in him. He is a constant Pro Bowler and a future Hall of Famer, likely first ballot, Reed is one of the best athletes to ever represent No. 20.

No. 21: Charles Woodson

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    Charles Woodson is the leader of the Green Bay Packers' defense. He is experienced but athletic enough to still make plays. He is a ball-hawking defensive back who won the 2009 NFL Defensive Player of the Year award. This No. 21 doesn't have many NFL years left, but will always deliver until he hangs up the cleats. 

No. 22.: Andrew McCutchen

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    Andrew McCutchen is about to make history. Perhaps the best story in all of baseball, McCutchen has the Pirates on the verge of the playoffs in 2012, ending their 19 consecutive losing seasons. He is in MVP form and as long as he is playing, the Pirates will continue to shock the sports world.

No. 23: Arian Foster

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    The undrafted product out of Tennessee rushed for 1,224 yards and 10 touchdowns in 13 games in 2011. He added 53 receptions for 617 yards and two scores as well. Arian Foster is one of the elite backs in football and can do it all for Houston.

No. 24: Kobe Bryant

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    Kobe Bryant---no explanation required. Simple as that.

No. 25: LeSean Mccoy

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    LeSean McCoy became fantasy football owners' best friend in 2011 with a MVP caliber season. He rushed for 1,309 yards and 17 touchdowns and caught 48 passes for 315 touchdowns and three scores. Shady is on the rise and will be one of the most elusive players in all of football in 2012.

No. 26: John Terry

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    John Terry is the captain of European champion Chelsea and has served as the English captain for years. He was the UEFA Club Defender of the Year in 2005, 2008 and 2009 and is Chelsea's highest scoring defender. This No. 26 will go down as one of the best defenders to ever play for England and Chelsea, doing his number well.

No. 27: Ray Rice

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    Ray Rice is the do-it-all back in Baltimore. He can run, catch block and make a play any time the football is in his hands. He scored 15 touchdowns in 2011 and helped the Ravens to be within a play of the Super Bowl. Though there are several great No. 27s out there, nobody does it justice like Rice does.

No. 28: Adrian Peterson

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    Though Adrian Peterson is coming off of ACL and MCL injuries, he still represents No. 28 the best. He scored 13 touchdowns in 12 games on a lousy 2011 Vikings team and nearly eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark. When he is healthy, he is arguably the game's top running back and finds the end-zone at a very high rate.

No. 29: Earl Thomas

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    Earl Thomas is one of the game's finest safeties. He earned a Pro Bowl berth in his second season and was ranked No. 66 in the NFL Top 100 Players of 2011. He should be the rock on defense for Seattle for years to come.

No. 30: Henrik Lundqvist

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    Henrik Lundqvist won the Vezina trophy as the NHL's top goalie in 2012. He has won at least 30 games in seven consecutive seasons, an NHL record. As long as this No. 30 is in the net for New York, the Rangers will always have a chance.

No. 31: Jairus Byrd

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    The Buffalo Bills safety had a tremendous 2011 season, racking up 98 tackles, one sack, three forced fumbles and three interceptions. Jairus Byrd is one of the more underrated defensive backs, but a strong 2012 will make him one of the game's elite.

No. 32: Josh Hamilton

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    Though Josh Hamilton is slumping as of late, he is still a dominating force in the MLB. He was playing at an MVP level before the All-Star break and has shown how valuable he is for the Rangers. He is a stud in Texas but Jonathan Quick was a VERY close second at No. 32. However, Hamilton's overall production for Texas was too much to pass up.

No. 33: Michael Turner

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    Though this No. 33 is getting little fantasy respect heading into 2012, Michael Turner does his number well. He has rushed for over 1,300 yards and 11 touchdowns in each of the last two seasons. He is a quick runner and finds himself in the end-zone often. Don't worry about him busting in a fantasy league, he is still one of the NFL's better rushers.

No. 34: Paul Pierce

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    Paul Pierce is the captain of the Boston Celtics. This No. 34 is legendary in the historic sports city of Boston, leading his Celtics to an NBA Finals championship. Though he is aging, he is still a sharp shooter and still the leader of his team up north.

No. 35: Kevin Durant

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    This No. 35 just edges out Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers, winner of the 2011 AL CY Young and MVP Awards. Kevin Durant was the youngest player to ever lead the NBA in scoring and led his Thunder to the NBA Finals in 2012. He is a sharp shooter and rising star who will one day be the face of the NBA.

No. 36: Jered Weaver

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    Jared Weaver is on fire for the Angels this MLB season. The AL Cy Young Award seems to be a two man race, between Weaver and Justin Verlander. This No. 36 has recorded win after win in 2012 and shows no signs of slowing down in the future.

No. 37: Stephen Strasburg

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    Stephen Strasburg is limited in how much he can do for the Nationals, but his production has Washington in prime playoff contention. This former No. 1 overall pick is one of the MLB's finest pitchers and young talents. Though this No. 37 is used with such caution, he is still a major factor in Washington's 2012 success.

No. 38: Brian Wilson

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    Hey this No. 38 was a toss-up, so why not give it to the cool and unique Brian Wilson? He has actually done a lot of good for the Giants as well.

No. 39: Steven Jackson

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    Though this No. 39 plays for the under-whelming Rams, he has seven consecutive 1,000 yard seasons on the ground. Steven Jackson is a tough, physical running back who is as consistent as they come. His style of play is very exciting and he figures to be Jeff Fisher's main threat on offense.

No. 40: Henrik Zetterberg

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    Henrik Zetterberg scored 69 points for the Red Wings in the 2011-2012 season. He should captain Detroit this season after years of being an alternate. He can still produce points for Detroit and contribute leadership and experience, something every franchise needs.

No. 41: Dirk Nowitzki

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    Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks shocked the world with the 2011 NBA Finals victory over the mighty Miami Heat. This No. 41 proved that he is perhaps the game's elite clutch shooter and that he can really lead an NBA franchise to greatness. Nowitzki is great player and leader in Dallas, making him a favorite among fans of the game.

No. 42: Kevin Love

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    Kevin Love is one of the NBA's rising stars. He had an astonishing streak with 52 consecutive double-double games. He won a gold medal with the Olympic team in 2012 and is the face of the Minnesota Timberwolves. He even had a 51 point performance last season, not bad for a big man. This No. 42 will make an NBA impact for years to come.

No. 43: Darren Sproles

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    Darren Sproles is a fantasy football god and the NFL's top do-it-all back. He rushed for 603 yards and two scores and caught 86 passes for 710 yards and seven touchdowns in 2011. Add in his return yards and Sproles had the most all-purpose yards in NFL history last season with 2696 yards. Sproles is a game-changer and play-maker, making him one of the most dynamic NFL players ever.

No. 44: Ahmad Bradshaw

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    Ahmad Bradshaw has won two Super Bowls in New York and is the vocal point of the running game. He has rushed for 1,000 yards in the NFL before and always seems to heat up in the post-season. In 2012, he should get some opportunities stripped by David Wilson's presence but will still produce for the Giants.

No. 45: Mario Balotelli

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    The Italian kid was brilliant in the UEFA European Championship in 2012. Mario Balotelli is simply on the rise as a premier scoring threat in European soccer. If he can continue to develop as a player and mature as a person, he can be one of the greatest players on the planet.

No. 46: David Krejci

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    David Krejci was instrumental in the Bruins' 2011 Stanley Cup run. He led the league with 12 post-season goals and chipped in 23 assists, with four game-winning goals during that magical 2011 playoffs. He contributed 62 points for Boston last season and is only 26, meaning he should be able to produce for years to come in Boston.

No. 47: Gio Gonzalez

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    Gio Gonzalez rises up in a bland set of No. 47s. As of August 12th 2012, Gonzo is 14-6 with a 3.32 ERA and 154 strikeouts. The pitcher has even hit a home run in 2012. He is a power pitcher and at age 26, should be a reliable pitcher for years to come.

No. 48: Daniel Briere

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    In 70 games during the 2011-2012 season, Daniel Briere scored 16 goals and chipped in 33 assists. Though he has a small physical frame, Briere has always been a clutch player and key factor for the Flyers. This alternate captain is tough and a fan favorite in the tough sports town of Philadelphia, no easy task.

No. 49: Rich Peverley

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    The No. 49 batch of players were relatively under-whelming. Rich Peverley recorded 42 points in 57 games for the Bruins in the 2011-2012 season, so he gets the nod.

No. 50: Nick Barnett

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    Nick Barnett totaled 130 tackles, three sacks, one forced fumble and three interceptions as a Buffalo Bill in 2011. This season, Barnett will be the defense's emotional leader and their most feared linebacker. He is a consistent veteran who is one of the vocal points on a very talented defenses.

No. 51: Jerod Mayo

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    Jerod Mayo is an absolute monster for the New England Patriots. This No. 51 was the 2007 AP NFL Rookie of the Year and an All Pro selection in 2010. He has started in a Super Bowl and inked a five-year contract extension at the end of 2011. Mayo will be the rock of the Pats defense for many more years.

No. 52: Ray Lewis

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    Ray Lewis leads the loaded group of No. 52s. He easily beats out Clay Matthews and has the nod over a very impressive Patrick Willis. Lewis has been a Super Bowl MVP and has been dominating the league for well over a decade. He hasn't slowed down and will go down as perhaps the greatest linebacker of all time.

No. 53: Maurkice Pouncey

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    The spot could have been Melky Cabrera's if he didn't get hit with a 50 game suspension for testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance. This makes way for Maurkice Pouncey, who is quite the player himself. In two NFL seasons, Pouncey has started all 30 games he has played in and has earned a Pro Bowl berth both years. He will continue to be a rock on the offensive line for seasons to come.

No. 54: Aroldis Chapman

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    Aroldis Chapman just beats out Brian Urlacher at the No. 54 spot. The Cuban kid is absolutely ridiculous, throwing pitches at over 100 mph regularly. He made his first All-Star appearance in 2012 and should see many more in the future.

No. 55: Terrell Suggs

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    Terrell Suggs is a five-time Pro Bowler and 2011 AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year. He owns Ravens' records with 82 career sacks and 25 forced fumbles. He is one of the NFL's fiercest hitters and simply the best No. 55 around.

No. 56: Brian Cushing

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    Brian Cushing has been making an impact since his first snap in an NFL game. He started in the Pro Bowl as a rookie and was the AP NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2009. He has since been named a team captain, team MVP and second team All-Pro. He is a bruising hitter and should help Houston back to post-seasob play in 2012.

No. 57: Johan Santana

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    Johan Santana isn't having his best season with the Mets in 2012, but he did deliver the franchise's first ever no-hitter. He stands out in front of a declining Bart Scott at the No. 57 position.

No. 58: Von Miller

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    Von Miller made an impact from the first moment he stepped onto an NFL field. The rookie was one of the game's best linebackers in 2012, earning himself a Pro Bowl berth. He is the face of the Denver defense and perhaps the next Ray Lewis.

No. 59: London Fletcher

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    London Fletcher is one of the most underrated NFL players of all time. At age 36, Fletcher recorded 166 tackles, 1.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and three interceptions. He has 11 consecutive seasons with 116+ tackles, showing his unreal durability and consistency. Tackle data was not recorded prior to 2001, so his totals could even be higher. Fletcher remains one of the game's top linebackers and if history repeats itself, he could be even better in 2012.

No. 60: D'Brickashaw Ferguson

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    D'Brickashaw Ferguson was drafted No. 4 overall in the 2006 NFL Draft. After years of hard work, the offensive tackle is finally seeing results. He was elected to the 2009, 2010 and 2011 Pro Bowls. He has started all 96 games he has played in New York and will need to do a great job giving his quarterbacks enough time in 2012.

No. 61: Rick Nash

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    The former No. 1 pick of the Blue Jackets got his wish and got out of Columbus. The new New York Ranger recorded 30 goals and 29 assists in the 2011-2012 season and should increase his production in New York. He is a leader, having captained Columbus, and could be the difference in New York's Stanley Cup chase.

No. 62: Terrence Cody

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    Terrence Cody was a phenomenon in college at Alabama. Though he isn't as destructive at this point as he was in NCAA play, Cody still causes havoc in the course of a game. He is 6'4'' and 340 pounds and a starter on the tough defensive line of the Ravens. This No. 62 has nowhere to go but up.

No. 63: Jeff Saturday

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    The former undrafted player has gone on to be one of the game's most dominating centers. Jeff Saturday has earned five Pro Bowl berths and owns a Super Bowl ring. He was influential in preventing a 2011 NFL regular season lockout and at age 37, has signed with Green Bay to better his chances of winning a title.

No. 64: Leroy Harris

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    A very bland group of No. 64s. This toss up goes to Leroy Harris due to the fact that he started 16 games in 2011. Yep, that's really the difference maker.

No. 65: Phil Hughes

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    Phil Hughes is the only No. 65 that can be a true difference maker in a game. He has had his struggles, but has a World Series ring and All-Star appearance under his belt. He easily gets the nod in a bland group of players at his number.

No. 66: Ben Grubbs

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    If this was the 1990s, Mario Lemieux would be the clear cut No. 66. But in 2012, there are few people that really represent the No. 66 with such dignity. However, Ben Grubbs does do his number justice.

    He has started 70 of his 74 career games and earned a Pro Bowl berth based on his 2011 production. His hard work with the Ravens led to a big payday with the Saints in March of 2012 as he inked a five-year $36 million deal. He should have no problem keeping Drew Brees of the turf this fall.

No. 67: Max Pacioretty

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    Max Pacioretty had a stellar 2011-2012 season as he recorded 33 goals and 32 assists in 79 games. His recent production led to him signing a six-year $27 million deal this off-season. Now that he is locked up long term, he should continue to get the puck to the back of the net.

No. 68: Jaromir Jagr

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    Jaromir Jagr is 40 years old but still playing at a very high level in the world's fiercest hockey league. During the 2011-2012 season, he produced  19 goals and 35 assists for 54 points in 73 games. He has been the NHL's leading scorer on five occasions, is a seven time first-team All-Star and is the top European point producer in NHL history.

No. 69: Jared Allen

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    Jared Allen is an absolute beast and turned in a jaw-dropping 2011 NFL season. He recorded 22.5 sacks last season, .5 sacks off the all-time record set by Michael Strahan. He has earned four All-Pro berths and since he entered the league in 2004, no player has more sacks than Allen, who has 105 during that span.

No. 70: Robinho

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    Robinho has taken his soccer talents all over the globe. He has played for the famous clubs Santos, Real Madrid, Manchester City and currently AC Milan. With Brazil, Robinho has won two Confederation Cups and has played with the national team since 2003. He even scored two goals on the world's biggest stage in the 2010 FIFA World Cup. This No. 70 is a speedster and uses deceitful tactics to ease past defenders.

No. 71: Evgeni Malkin

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    Evgeni Malkin is one of the top scorers in today's NHL. He is a four-time All-Star, two time scoring champion and 2012 league MVP. He was the playoff MVP back in 2009 when he hoisted his only Stanley Cup to date. Though Sidney Crosby steals the spotlight in Pittsburgh, Malkin is certainly a major threat on the ice and one of the NHL's most talented players.

No. 72: Osi Umenyiora

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    Osi Umenyiora is stuck behind Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul in New York, but still manages to produce. He recorded nine sacks in two forced fumbles in only nine games in 2011 in which he only started seven games. In 2005, he recorded 14.5 sacks. In 2010, he forced 10 fumbles. Add in two Pro Bowl berths and two Super Bowl rings and he is ideal for the No. 72 spot.

No. 73: Joe Thomas

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    Joe Thomas is the best player on the Cleveland Browns. If only his hard work and production helped his quarterback do something with the ball.

    Thomas has made five Pro Bowls in his five seasons. In his career, he only has six holding penalties and 20 false start penalties. He plays at a high level year in and year out and is widely considered one of the NFL's elite tackles. This No. 73 is playing at a pace that will see his career end up with a bust in canton.

No. 74: Nick Mangold

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    Nick Mangold is one of the best centers in all of the NFL. Beginning in 2008, he has made four consecutive Pro Bowls. He has started all 94 career games he has played in and earned a major payday in 2010, signing a seven-year $55 million deal with $22.5 million guaranteed. His sister is even an Olympic weightlifter, showing that he has quite the athletic genes.

No. 75: Vince Wilfork

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    Vince Wilfork is a big boy, but man can he play. He has been named All-Pro in 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011. This No. 75 owns a Super Bowl ring and has started in another championship. He is one of the best defensive tackles in the game and can really make an offense struggle.

No. 76: P.K. Subban

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    P.K. Subban is one of the top up-and-comers in the NHL. The defender is only 23, but has played a key role for Montreal in recent seasons. He recorded 7 goals and 29 assists in the 2011-2012 NHL season and should continue to make plays on the ice up north.

No. 77: Jake Long

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    The Dolphins made Jake Long the No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft. Long has rewarded them by being one of the game's top offensive linemen.

    He has made the Pro Bowl in all of his four seasons and has only missed two games due to injury. He is a team captain and one of the few bright spots of the Miami offense.

No. 78: Ryan Clady

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    Ryan Clady is the lone star in a pack of No. 78s. He is a two time Pro Bowl selection and hasn't missed a start in his four seasons. Now the stakes are higher as he is protecting Peyton Manning, one of the best quarterbacks of all-time.

No. 79: Red Bryant

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    A weak group of No. 79s is led by defensive tackle Red Bryant of the Seattle Seahawks. He started all 16 games last year and blocked four kicks, had a sack and even took one of his two interceptions to the house. His hard work led to his signing of a five-year $35 million contract extension this past off-season.

No. 80: Andre Johnson

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    Andre Johnson gets the nod over the up-and-comers in Victor Cruz and Jimmy Graham. Johnson was the third overall selection in the 2003 NFL Draft and has dominated the league since. He is a four-time All-Pro selection, four time Houston Texans team MVP, team captain and twice led the NFL in receiving yards. It appears that only injuries are the only thing that can slow him down, as seen in 2011.

No. 81: Calvin Johnson

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    Megatron went off in 2011. He was by far the best wide receiver in the game last year, earning an All-Pro selection and the Madden NFL '13 cover. He was able to make leaping catches in triple coverage and established himself as the NFL's best wideout. As long as Matthew Stafford is healthy, Calvin Johnson will light up the stat sheet.

No. 82: Jason Witten

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    Jason Witten is one of the best pass catching tight ends in the NFL. He is a seven time Pro Bowler, with five All-Pro selections, and won the 2009 NFL Iron Man Award. He owns the Cowboys record for receptions in a game by a tight end with 15, ranking him third all-time. He also is currently in third place in career receptions by a tight end. It is very possible that Witten ends up in Canton one day.

No. 83: Wes Welker

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    Wes Welker will go down as one of the best possession receivers in NFL history, just don't ask Gisele Bundchen. Welker is a four time All-Pro selection and has appeared in two Super Bowls. He has caught a 99 yard touchdown pass and has caught 554 passes in five seasons with the Patriots. As long as he is healthy, he is a Pro Bowl player and the game's top possession wideout.

No. 84: Roddy White

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    Roddy White is a four time Pro Bowler who has been Atlanta's top receiver for years. He owns franchise receiving records with 1,389 yards in a season, 11 receptions in a game, 185 yards in a half and 210 yards in a game. He led the league with 115 receptions in 2010 and was second with 100 catches in 2011. With Julio Jones drawing coverage, White should have another stellar year.

No. 85: Greg Jennings

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    Greg Jennings wins the No. 85 spot over Vernon Davis and Antonio Gates. He made the 2010 and 2011 Pro Bowls and was instrumental in Green Bay's Super Bowl XLV victory. He is a deep threat who gets into the end zone often and just make plays when the ball is in his hands.

No. 86: David Nelson

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    David Nelson wins the No. 86 spot because Todd Heap is past his prime, Hines Ward is done with football and every other No. 86 is mediocre at best. Nelson started 13 games last season and recorded 61 receptions for 658 yards and five scores. He scored a game winning touchdown with seconds left against Oakland and is even dating a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader. He will have a big role in Buffalo's 2012 offense and push for the playoffs.

No. 87: Sidney Crosby

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    Sidney Crosby just barely gets the No. 87 position. Rob Gronkowski was the closest second place of anybody on this list and Jordy Nelson even had a minor case himself. But Crosby is the face of the NHL and just too big of a name to overlook.

    Crosby is the captain of the Penguins, has hoisted the Stanley Cup, is a four time All-Star, was the leading scorer in 2007 and produced the most goals in 2010. He is slick with the puck and composed throughout the game. His production and leadership makes him arguably the best player in the NHL when he is healthy.

No. 88: Tony Gonzalez

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    Tony Gonzalez will go down as the best tight end in NFL history. He is a 12-time Pro Bowl selection and owns several NFL records for a tight end. His 102 receptions in a season is the most ever by a tight end as is his 1,149 career catches, 95 career touchdowns and 13,339 career receiving yards. He is 36 tears old but still one of the best tight ends in today's NFL.

No. 89: Steve Smith

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    Steve Smith has made five Pro Bowls and is a three time All-Pro selection. He had a magical 2005 season in which he won the receiving triple crown, leading the NFL in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns. He became relevant again in 2011 with Cam Newton's presence and should have another great year with an experienced Newton in 2012.

No. 90: Jason Pierre-Paul

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    Jason Pierre-Paul comes out in front of several qualified candidates at the No. 90 spot. He was just too explosive in 2011 and his break out season kind of came out of nowhere.

    In 12 starts, Pierre-Paul had 16.5 sacks, one safety and forced two fumbles. He was named first team All-Pro and capped off his season with a Super Bowl ring. Now that he will be a full time starter and has experience under his belt, he should drop quarterbacks at a high rate in 2012.

No. 91: Steven Stamkos

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    Steven Stamkos is only 22 years old, but he is the elite goal scorer in the NHL. He scored 51 goals in the 2009-2010 season and notched 60 in the 2011-2012 season. He has produced at least 91 points in three consecutive seasons and is a two-time All-Star. The scary thing for the NHL is that Stamkos has many, many years left in him and has yet to hit his prime.

No. 92: James Harrison

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    James Harrison comes up top in an absolutely loaded class of No. 92s, which includes Elvis Dumervil, Richard Seymour and Haloti Ngata.

    Harrison went from an undrafted player to a four-time All-Pro and a two-time Super Bowl champion. He is a very hard hitter and one of the game's most bruising players.

No. 93: Dwight Freeney

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    Dwight Freeney is one of the most consistent pass rushers in the NFL, in large part due to his famous spin move. He has appeared in seven Pro Bowls and is the Colts single season sack leader with 16 and career sack leader with 102.5. Freeney owns a Super Bowl ring and has appeared in another and was included in the NFL's 2000 All Decade Team. His 43 career forced fumbles are only four off of Jason Taylor's all time mark of 47.

No. 94: Demarcus Ware

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    Demarcus Ware might just be the best defensive player in the NFL today. He has earned Pro Bowl berths on six occasions and led the NFL in sacks in both 2008 and 2010. He was voted the 3rd best player in the 2011 NFL Top 100 and 6th in the 2012 edition. He is only .5 sacks away from joining the 100 sack club and it could be a matter of minutes into the season opener before he gets it.

No. 95: Kyle Williams

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    Kyle Williams is pretty much the only stud at No. 95. He is a two-time Pro Bowler and inked a six-year $39 million contract extension prior to the 2011 season. He is on a stacked defensive line and should continue to keep up his fantastic production.

No. 96: Barry Cofield

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    The lame group of No. 96 is led by Barry Cofield. He owns a Super Bowl ring from his days with New York and had a decent year in 2011. He started all 16 games and chipped in three sacks and eight pass deflections last year.

No. 97: Calvin Pace

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    A bland group of No. 97s gives the spot to Calvin Pace. He started 16 games for the Jets last season and had 72 tackles, 4.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and an interception. He will start at linebacker this season and should get to the quarterback on a fairly regular basis.

No. 98: Robert Mathis

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    Robert Mathis is more than the "other guy" lined up across from Dwight Freeney. He is a four-time Pro Bowl selection and has appeared in two Super Bowls, winning one. He has 83.5 career sacks and 39 fumbles. It will be interesting to see how his plays as an outside linebacker in 2012.

No. 99: Aldon Smith

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    Aldon Smith made an immediate impact in the NFL as a rookie, recording 14 sacks in the process. He also forced two fumbles and was a strong candidate for the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. He should have a similar season in 2012 as he has an increase in knowledge and experience, plus he plays in the NFC West.