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Top 2023 NFL players by jersey number: From Roquan Smith to Aaron Donald, a 0-99 ranking of the best talent

Is it the player that makes the jersey, or the jersey that makes the player? Surely it’s the former. But it’d be foolish to deny that uniforms — and, specifically, jersey numbers — hold a special place in many NFL players’ hearts. Only in recent years has the league permitted skill positions to rock single digits, and starting in 2023 the No. 0 will also join the rotation, marking an even more diverse wardrobe for the stars of the game.

Whether it’s Patrick Mahomes‘ red No. 15 or Aaron Donald’s blue No. 99, certain numbers have become synonymous with the NFL’s best talents. And it’s with that in mind that we decided to assess every single digit, identifying the best player to wear each number, 0-99, for the upcoming 2023 season:

Note: Player ages are as of Sept. 1, 2023.

0 — Roquan Smith

Position: LB | Team: Ravens | Age: 26

WR Calvin Ridley, one of the first to claim the NFL’s newest digit, is poised to be a top target for Trevor Lawrence with the Jaguars. But Smith, who’s switching from No. 18, has been one of football’s surest things for six years, elevating his homing-missile physicality after a trade from the Bears to Baltimore in 2022.

Position: QB | Team: EaglesAge: 25

Call it the number for young, dynamic quarterbacks, shared by Justin Fields, Kyler Murray and Tua Tagovailoa. But the only true competition for Hurts, a rising dual threat with unshakeable poise, is Bengals WR Ja’Marr Chase, a big play waiting to happen.

Position: CB | Team: BroncosAge: 23

The young Broncos cover man gets the edge over fellow corner Darius Slay Jr., and wideouts D.J. Moore and Amari Cooper. His confidence on the outside helps buoy a feisty Denver defense.

Position: QB | Team: Broncos | Age: 34

Chargers S Derwin James may well be the more electrifying present-day talent, but we’re not completely writing off Wilson after his erratic Broncos debut. He’s owned No. 3 for a decade, and Sean Payton has what it takes to revive him.

Position: QB | Team: CowboysAge: 30

Solid and steady, Prescott gets the nod over fellow QBs Derek Carr and Deshaun Watson, the latter of whom is better suited to reclaim No. 4 with a full season in Cleveland; and Vikings RB Dalvin Cook.

Position: CB | Team: DolphinsAge: 28

His prime years may be in the rear view, but the former Rams stud remains a No. 1 cover man as he relocates to Miami. Wild cards for the future: 49ers QB Trey Lance and Colts QB Anthony Richardson.

Position: WR | Team: Eagles | Age: 24

Far more physical than his slender frame would suggest, Smith still doesn’t get nearly enough love for his alpha presence in a WR room headlined by Pro Bowler A.J. Brown.

Position: CB | Team: Cowboys | Age: 24

Tough call here between NFC East defensive forces: Eagles pass rusher Haason Reddick dominated in 2022, but Diggs has been a pick artist for slightly longer in Dallas.

Position: QB | Team: JetsAge: 39

Ravens QB Lamar Jackson has had this on lock for a few years, and while he still outdoes Rodgers in sheer play-making ability, the ex-Packers star is due for a revival with Gang Green, swapping out of his signature No. 12 threads. Other runner-ups: Kirk Cousins, Daniel Jones, Kyle Pitts and Jaycee Horn.

Position: QB | Team: Bengals | Age: 26

The NFL’s coolest cat this side of Hurts, Burrow has quickly made No. 9 his own in a city that once overflowed with No. 9 Carson Palmer jerseys. In a distant second place: Packers WR Christian Watson and Rams QB Matthew Stafford.

Position: QB | Team: Chargers | Age: 25

Justin Herbert
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Talk about a loaded number: WRs Cooper Kupp, Tyreek Hill and DeAndre Hopkins all rock No. 10, and new Packers QB Jordan Love could make it his own, too. But Herbert’s laser arm has kept Los Angeles afloat.

Position: DE | Team: Cowboys | Age: 24

Another NFC East battle here, with imposing Eagles WR A.J. Brown a legit candidate. Parsons is basically the heart of Dallas’ “D,” however, regardless of where he lines up as a pass rusher.

Position: TE | Team: GiantsAge: 30

Saints WR Chris Olave might be worthy already, but Waller, when healthy, is as close to an uncoverable pass catcher as there is. New York’s counting him to be Daniel Jones’ best friend.

Position: WR | Team: BuccaneersAge: 30

Maybe someday 49ers QB Brock Purdy will steal it. Certainly other WRs, like Keenan Allen, could fit. But Evans has been doing it so well for so long in Tampa Bay as a big-bodied downfield threat.

Position: WR | Team: BillsAge: 29

Another WR destination, No. 14 is also home to Amon-Ra St. Brown, Chris Godwin, DK Metcalf and George Pickens. But Diggs is a living, breathing route-running clinic as Josh Allen’s go-to.

15 — Patrick Mahomes

Position: QB | Team: ChiefsAge: 27

The face of the NFL, Mahomes doesn’t just destroy any and all “competition” for No. 15 right now. He and Packers legend Bart Starr are already in contention for all-time bragging rights.

16 — Trevor Lawrence

Position: QB | Team: Jaguars | Age: 23

Arguably the next big thing under center, the former No. 1 pick easily edges Lions QB Jared Goff in present and future upside.

17 — Josh Allen

Position: QB | Team: Bills | Age: 27

The WRs put up a fight here — Davante Adams, Jaylen Waddle and Garrett Wilson are all bona fide game-changers. But Allen remains a top-five dual threat in a crowded crop of AFC gunslingers.

Position: WR | Team: Vikings | Age: 24

Few players have seized control of a number so quickly. Jefferson deserves all the MVP buzz he’s gotten as a smooth, explosive catalyst of everything Minnesota does offensively.

Position: WR | Team: 49ers | Age: 27

A perfect Swiss Army knife for the 49ers’ run-heavy offense, he always commands attention with the ball in his hands.

Position: RB | Team: Cowboys | Age: 26

Tony Pollard
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You could make a case for Jets RB Breece Hall or Steelers CB Patrick Peterson, but Pollard is a proven do-it-all back with burst, and now he’s poised to finally handle full-time duties in Dallas.

Position: S | Team: Bills | Age: 32

Though older, like fellow No. 21 Stephon Gilmore, Poyer’s savvy center-field presence helps anchor Buffalo’s playoff “D.”

Position: RB | Team: TitansAge: 29

A bulldozer eventually wears down, but Henry remains the NFL’s most imposing ball-carrier after years as Tennessee’s rock.

Position: RB | Team: 49ers | Age: 27

The ex-Panthers star rejuvenated his career after relocating to San Francisco in 2022; as long as he’s on the field, he’s as reliable as they come as a multipurpose safety valve, giving him a slight edge over Packers CB Jaire Alexander.

Position: RB | Team: BrownsAge: 27

Has any RB in NFL history ever racked up 6,300+ yards and just under 50 touchdowns in such a quiet five-year span?

Position: CB | Team: Dolphins | Age: 30

Now paired with Jalen Ramsey in Miami, the longtime ballhawk is poised to remain a difference-maker down south.

Position: RB | Team: Giants | Age: 26

Even before his 2022 revival, Barkley boasted some of the league’s best physical traits. As long as he can stay upright, he projects as a continued three-down play-maker for Brian Daboll’s attack.

Position: CB | Team: SeahawksAge: 24

Bills CB Tre’Davious White remains a much bigger name, but Woolen announced himself as an unlikely rookie hero in 2022, staying around the ball with 16 pass deflections, six picks and three fumble recoveries.

Position: RB | Team: Colts | Age: 24

Fellow bell-cow Josh Jacobs warrants consideration, but Taylor has been more consistently smooth and productive as an offensive centerpiece, totaling 4,600+ scrimmage yards in just three NFL seasons.

Position: S | Team: 49ers | Age: 23

The former fifth-round pick came on strong in 2022 for San Francisco’s NFC title bid, starring as an opportunistic roamer.

Position: RB | Team: Chargers | Age: 28

Austin Ekeler
Getty Images

Not entirely dissimilar to Christian McCaffrey, he’s been ultra-reliable as a high-effort utility man when healthy. Even going into year seven, he’s probably underrated as a Chargers weapon.

Position: S | Team: Broncos | Age: 29

This is the number for Pro Bowl-caliber safeties: Simmons, who’s been a mainstay in Denver with 27 career picks, just beats out Kevin Byard and Antoine Winfield Jr.

Position: LB | Team: Chiefs | Age: 23

Linebacker may be a devalued position, but Bolton has had a big hand in K.C.’s defense in his first two seasons, logging a whopping 180 tackles during their 2022 Super Bowl run.

Position: RB | Team: Packers | Age: 28

Now that Aaron Rodgers is gone, Jones’ natural dynamism figures to take even more of a front-facing role in Matt LaFleur’s offense, with fellow RB AJ Dillon as the power complement.

Position: LB | Team: Lions | Age: 28

The former Saints reserve has found new life at the heart of the Lions “D,” bringing physicality to an ascending unit.

Position: CB | Team: Buccaneers | Age: 26

Carlton Davis is the more established name in Tampa Bay’s secondary, but Dean has quietly improved in consecutive seasons as a starter on the outside.

Position: CB | Team: Giants | Age: 22

The only rookie on the list, Banks profiles as an instant outside starter for a playoff team, bringing prototypical size and speed opposite Adoree Jackson.

Position: S | Team: Titans | Age: 25

He hasn’t played a full season in three years, and fellow safety Kevin Byard commands more attention. But he’s been relatively productive when on the field for Tennessee.

Position: RB | Team: PatriotsAge: 25

Playing in a Patriots backfield means he’ll always be prone to losing touches, but the big young man has been an all-purpose revelation when given the chance to headline New England’s ground game.

Position: S | Team: Steelers | Age: 26

One of the most underrated defensive backs in the game, he’s been such a rangy asset in coverage, effortlessly totaling 17 picks in less than four full seasons at the back end of Pittsburgh’s “D.”

Position: LB | Team: Bills | Age: 34

Von Miller
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Aging and coming off injury, Miller is still one of the best edge rushers in the NFL when active, and he’ll be especially motivated to return to form after missing six games in his anticipated Bills debut.

41 — Josh Allen

Position: OLB | Team: Jaguars | Age: 26

Saints RB Alvin Kamara has owned this since entering the NFL, and he’s still got magical qualities as a dual-threat back. He’s also struggled to find space as a runner in recent years and is facing a likely suspension. Allen, on the other hand, has quietly paced an ascending Jaguars front with at least seven sacks in three of his four seasons.

Position: FB | Team: Ravens | Age: 29

Few teams like to run the ball as much as Baltimore, and Ricard has served as a blocking specialist for the better part of the last half-decade, or basically since Lamar Jackson has been their guy.

Position: CB | Team: Chargers | Age: 28

The Chargers have paid mega bucks for bigger names on “D” in recent years, but Davis has been more solid, if unspectacular.

Position: CB | Team: Ravens | Age: 27

Even though Baltimore’s secondary had hiccups to open 2022, the feisty Humphrey has been a lynchpin of the group since taking over as a full-timer four years ago. Watch out for the Jaguars’ Travon Walker at No. 44 down the road.

Position: LB | Team: Buccaneers | Age: 25

He may be a polarizing pass-coverage grade, but White’s big-time athleticism has translated to gaudy numbers as a centerpiece of Todd Bowles’ defense, with 120+ tackles and 15+ QB hits in three straight years.

Position: LS | Team: Titans | Age: 37

Long snappers get little love, but Cox has been doing it reliably for decades, earning five Pro Bowl nods across 199 career games with the Ravens and now Titans.

Position: LB | Team: Broncos | Age: 28

In the two seasons he’s started at least 13 games, he’s been a sturdy inside presence with 110+ tackles and 5+ tackles for loss. 

Position: LB | Team: TexansAge: 22

After a promising 12-game rookie campaign, the Alabama product could be a building block for DeMeco Ryans‘ new program.

Position: LB | Team: Broncos | Age: 25

A supersized starter now playing under a supersized contract in Chicago, Edmunds’ range should play well behind a restocked Bears front after five busy years in Buffalo.

Position: DT | Team: Buccaneers | Age: 28

Vita Vea
Getty Images

One of the premier nose tackles in the game, the former top-15 pick has never posted ridiculous numbers but uses his massive size (6-4, 347) to buoy the Bucs’ stingy front seven.

Position: OLB | Team: Giants | Age: 23

Injuries plagued his second season, but Ojulari has all the talent of a Pro Bowl pass rusher, logging 13.5 sacks and 20 QB hits despite having just 18 starts under his belt.

Position: C | Team: Chiefs | Age: 24

Chargers OLB Khalil Mack is still an imposing presence, but he’s no longer the all-world QB terrorizer he once was, allowing Humphrey, the rock of Patrick Mahomes’ Super Bowl-winning line, to claim No. 52 for himself.

Position: OLB | Team: PanthersAge: 25

Colts LB Shaquille Leonard has been a sideline-to-sideline force, but Burns doesn’t have as checkered a medical situation. Better yet, he might be one of the top 10 pass rushers in the NFL, matching or upping his sack total in three straight years.

Position: LB | Team: 49ers | Age: 26

Few veterans have made a better case for paying top dollar to off-ball linebackers. Warner is constantly around the ball in the swarming San Francisco “D,” thriving especially in coverage.

Position: OLB | Team: Vikings | Age: 30

If you’re a seasoned pass rusher, this is your number: Smith trailed off late in 2022 but has stayed in QBs’ faces for most of his career in Green Bay and Minnesota; and yet Chandler Jones, Brandon Graham and/or Jerry Hughes could also fit here.

Position: LB | Team: Saints | Age: 34

Colts OG Quenton Nelson has All-Pro ability but has also taken a slight step back since his sterling first few seasons. Davis, meanwhile, is still in peak form going into year 12, bringing unmatched leadership and a youthful energy to Dennis Allen’s “D.” Steelers pass rusher Alex Highsmith is another consideration here.

Position: LB | Team: 49ers | Age: 26

If Fred Warner is the face of the 49ers’ shutdown linebacker corps, then Greenlaw is his overlooked accomplice, producing Pro Bowl-caliber numbers in the three seasons he’s started at least 11 games.

Position: OT | Team: Lions | Age: 22

Some solid defensive candidates here, between Bills LB Matt Milano and Jets DE Carl Lawson. But Sewell grew tremendously from year one to year two in 2022, emerging as an elite right tackle for a resurgent Jared Goff.

Position: LB | Team: Packers | Age: 30

He wasn’t nearly as dominant in 2022, but he’s been an above-average inside starter for the majority of his seven seasons.

Position: C | Team: Bills | Age: 31

Mitch Morse
Getty Images

The veteran made his first career Pro Bowl in year eight, but he’s been a sturdy center for Josh Allen (and briefly Patrick Mahomes before that) over the last half-decade.

Position: C | Team: Steelers | Age: 27

A serviceable centerpiece of an improving line, Cole could soon have this spot challenged by Giants rookie John Michael Schmitz.

Position: C | Team: Eagles | Age: 35

Welcome to the run on upper-tier centers. Kelce is seemingly nearing the end of his career, but his performance has yet to dip as one of the game’s most athletic second-level movers.

Position: C | Team: Chargers | Age: 32

One of Los Angeles’ top recent additions, the ex-Packers veteran is a pivotal piece of keeping Justin Herbert upright.

Position: C | Team: Ravens | Age: 23

Bengals OL Ted Karras is another possibility here, but Linderbaum wasted no time integrating to the NFL, drawing Offensive Rookie of the Year votes for steering Lamar Jackson’s front.

Position: OT | Team: Eagles | Age: 33

He’s good for a missed game or three every year, but you won’t find a more formidable, even punishing right tackle, especially in the ground game, when he’s on the field.

Position: C | Team: Buccaneers | Age: 32

He missed the entire 2022 regular season due to injury, but the previous five years proved he can be a title-caliber QB of the line. 

Position: OT | Team: Seahawks | Age: 22

As a first-round rookie, he started all 17 games as Seattle’s left tackle and helped keep a rejuvenated QB Geno Smith healthy.

Position: OT | Team: Eagles | Age: 26

The Lions’ Taylor Decker is another candidate here, but the way Mailata used his mammoth frame to play bodyguard for Jalen Hurts in a 2022 Super Bowl bid has him on the come-up.

Position: OT | Team: Packers | Age: 31

Availability has been a concern with Bakhtiari for years, but there’s no doubting he’s an elite blind-side blocker when active. Eagles OG Landon Dickerson could be in play to own No. 69 by next offseason.

Position: OG | Team: Cowboys | Age: 32

Zack Martin
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Chargers left tackle Rashawn Slater is just as valuable, but Martin’s done it longer, affording Dak Prescott reliable interior protection for as long as he’s been in the lineup.

Position: OT | Team: 49ers | Age: 35

It’s the number for top tackles, with Ryan Ramczyk, Jedrick Wills Jr. and Christian Darrisaw sharing No. 71. Williams may not be invincible, as the NFC Championship proved, but his size and raw power do so much for San Francisco’s run-heavy attack.

Position: OT | Team: Panthers | Age: 29

A model of consistency and durability on the right side of Carolina’s improved front, he edges out Terron Armstead, Braden Smith and Halapoulivaati Vaitai.

Position: OT | Team: Bills | Age: 29

He’s had the honor of protecting Josh Allen’s blind side since the QB first hit the NFL stage.

Position: OG | Team: Packers | Age: 27

A versatile staple of Green Bay’s line, Jenkins’ transition from successful guard to tackle and back again gives him a slight edge over a pair of Jaguars products in Cam Robinson and Jawaan Taylor, the latter of whom has since cashed in to be the Chiefs’ LT.

Position: OT | Team: Bengals | Age: 27

His resume has probably been inflated by the fact he’s had Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes as his QBs, but Brown is still a proven, quality left tackle, which counts for a whole lot.

Position: OT | Team: Falcons | Age: 28

His physical consistency at right tackle has allowed Arthur Smith to lean on the run and play old-fashioned football.

Position: C | Team: Lions | Age: 27

Detroit is build Ford Tough, and it starts with Ragnow up front, where he’s been an All-Pro in his last two healthy seasons.

Position: OT | Team: Buccaneers | Age: 24

Laremy Tunsil makes more money, and Andrew Thomas is on the rise, but Wirfs is the best tackle to wear No. 78, serving as the most reliable blocker during Tom Brady’s three seasons as a Buccaneer.

Position: OT | Team: Panthers | Age: 22

How about two Panthers tackles making the list? It’s a testament to the solid setup that rookie QB Bryce Young is inheriting. Ekwonu was an instant upgrade on the left side after entering as the No. 6 overall pick in 2022.

Position: TE | Team: Broncos | Age: 23

Greg Dulcich
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This is basically a tossup between he and the Ravens’ Isaiah Likely, two second-year tight ends who flashed as downfield pass catchers despite failing to lock down a full-time starting role.

Position: WR | Team: Chargers | Age: 28

A classic big-bodied wideout, Williams is only one of three at his position to represent the 80s. He’s a bit streaky, but when he’s on, there are fewer jump-ball specialists you’d rather target.

Position: TE | Team: CommandersAge: 32

It’s been three years since he looked like a legit weapon, but he remains Washington’s top TE. All the high-profile pass catchers now reside in the teens when it comes to jersey numbers.

Position: WR | Team: Bengals | Age: 28

Ja’Marr Chase is a home-run hitter, Tee Higgins is his do-it-all partner, but the Bengals’ WR corps is rounded out by Boyd’s dirty-work efficiency over the middle as a tried-and-true slot artist.

Position: RB | Team: Falcons | Age: 32

His heyday may be past, but Patterson’s survival as a hybrid ball-carrier, receiver and kick returner is still impressive.

Position: TE | Team: 49ers | Age: 29

Bengals WR Tee Higgins plays a more important position, but Kittle is so unbelievably efficient when the ball’s headed his way. He’s occasionally carried the 49ers’ aerial attack on his own.

Position: TE | Team: CardinalsAge: 32

Older and coming off injury, the ex-Eagle makes up for a lack of explosion with technical prowess. If all goes according to plan, Bills first-rounder Dalton Kincaid could soon overtake him here.

Position: TE | Team: Chiefs | Age: 33

Lions-turned-Vikings star T.J. Hockenson deserves more respect, but Kelce is the unquestioned owner of No. 87. He’s nearly as important to the Chiefs as his future Hall of Fame QB, forever finding open space in the middle of opposing defenses.

Position: WR | Team: Cowboys | Age: 25

The Eagles’ Dallas Goedert is a top-five TE at worst, but Lamb has gotten better in each of his three NFL seasons, proving in 2022 he’s a bona fide No. 1 play-maker as Dak Prescott’s top target.

Position: TE | Team: Ravens | Age: 27

His production gets a bit overshadowed by the fact the Ravens have struggled to land reliable WR production, but 4,300+ yards in five years proves he’s one of Baltimore’s best.

Position: OLB | Team: Steelers | Age: 28

T.J. Watt
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Injuries slowed his stats in 2022, but the ferocious edge rusher has been the heartbeat of the Steelers. His 77.5 sacks in six years don’t even do justice to the force he is as a stand-up blitzer.

Position: DE | Team: Bengals | Age: 28

This once belonged to Eagles DT Fletcher Cox, who’s serviceable but no longer so disruptive. Hendrickson has been all over for QBs for the last three years in both New Orleans and Cincinnati.

Position: DT | Team: Bills | Age: 31

An eight-year vet, he’s been a solid gap-plugger for three different defenses in the last three seasons.

Position: DT | Team: Commanders | Age: 28

The Alabama product has long been the most consistently penetrating member of Washington’s vaunted front, and he’s also barely missed a start over the last half-decade.

Position: DT | Team: Commanders | Age: 26

No. 94 is a haven for physical pressure artists, from longtime Saints star Cameron Jordan to underrated Eagles edge Josh Sweat to new Broncos signee Zach Allen. But Payne is the hottest of them all coming off a career-high 11.5-sack season. He was always a big-bodied nose for Ron Rivera, but now he’s on track to damage opposing pockets as well.

Position: DT | Team: Chiefs | Age: 29

Browns DE Myles Garrett is among the best to do it off the edge, and Panthers DT Derrick Brown is no slouch, either. But Jones often single-handedly drives K.C.’s front, excelling as a double-digit sack artist even on the interior.

Position: DT | Team: Texans | Age: 28

Houston’s struggles have masked the fact he’s now turned in seven serviceable seasons as an interior starter.

Position: DE | Team: 49ers | Age: 25

Steelers leader Cameron Heyward deserves much more consideration here than you might think, but like Heyward’s Pittsburgh teammate T.J. Watt, Bosa is a one-man wrecking crew as long as he’s on the field, headlining one of the NFL’s best fronts.

Position: DE | Team: RaidersAge: 26

Titans DT Jeffery Simmons is a beast on the interior, but Crosby is still underrated as a relentless pocket chaser, racking up 66 QB hits in his last two seasons for an otherwise iffy Las Vegas “D.”

99 — Aaron Donald

Position: DT | Team: Rams | Age: 32

Aaron Donald
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No one’s come close to taking Donald’s place here, even after the future Hall of Famer faded into the pile of injured Rams in 2022. If this freak of nature is out there with his hand in the dirt, everyone on the opposing line has to be on their “A” game.



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