Certain players are simply synonymous with certain numbers. It’s hard to see No. 4 without thinking of Brett Favre. Seven will always be John Elway. A pair of twos right next to each other is Emmitt Smith. And the sight of 56 conjures up memories of Lawrence Taylor.
Those are some of the all-time greats, players who have etched their names in the NFL’s history books. But there are plenty of guys today who are on their way to that type of football immortality, the best in the game who are creating their own legacies.
Are they good enough to become forever linked with their jersey number, however? That’s a level of greatness that few achieve.
To start answering this question, the editors at cover32 first set out to determine who the best players are in 2014 based on numbers. From 1-99, we’ve selected the player who is most synonymous with that particular digit as of right now. The series started with Nos. 1-9, continued with Nos. 10-19 and is now on to the next group.
Are they destined to become an all-time great? Only time will tell. But here’s who is on track at the moment.
20 – Darren McFadden
Perhaps nothing demonstrates how much the running back position has changed in recent years than to consider that McFadden, the runner-up to Tim Tebow for the 2007 Heisman Trophy, was the fourth-overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft; a running back didn’t go until 54th overall this year. That might be because McFadden has been an injury-prone disappointment; but he’s still the best at this talent-light number.
21 – Patrick Peterson
Things get back on track in a big way at No. 21, as Peterson is one of the best young players in the NFL. In fact, he’s so good that the cover32 editors recently rated him as one of the 10 most-valuable players in the league today in terms of trade value. Why? Because he’s a shutdown corner that also has playmaking abilities, a talent combination that has many making comparisons to Hall of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders.