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Ranking the top 5 NFL players to wear No. 6

QB Jay Cutler with the Chicago Bears
QB Jay Cutler with the Chicago Bears
Amaar Burton
ANALYST
Modified 22 Dec 2020, 14:53 IST
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In the NBA and Major League Baseball, players are generally not limited in what jersey number they can wear based on their position. Whether you're a point guard or a pitcher, a small forward or a shortstop, you can pretty much pick whatever number you want.

The NFL is a different story.

Traditionally, certain numbers were restricted to certain positions. There has been some evolution over the years -- wide receivers currently wear numbers between 10 and 19 now, when that used to never happen -- but for the most part the traditional has stood,

Single-digit numbers almost always go to quarterbacks, kickers and punters in the NFL.

So while ranking the five greatest players to wear No. 6 in the NFL, the pool is pretty much exclusive to those three positions. And given the nature of the positions, it can be difficult to judge a quarterback's resume against a kicker or punter.


5. Mark Sanchez (QB, 2009-2018)

Mark Sanchez was a superstar college quarterback at USC who had an up-and-down NFL career.

At his peak, Sanchez helped the New York Jets make back-to-back AFC Championship Game appearances in 2009 and 2010, denied trips to the Super Bowl by Peyton Manning's Colts and Ben Roethlisberger's Steelers.

At his low point, Sanchez was the butt of the league-wide joke that was the "Butt Fumble."

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Sanchez was the No. 5 overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft -- a pretty bad draft class for QBs in which Sanchez and No. 1 overall pick Matthew Stafford were the only two who really had any success in the NFL.

Sanchez was the Jets' starter for four years (wearing No. 6) before the team released him in 2013. (For the rest of his career after New York, he wore No. 3.) He started half of the Philadelphia Eagles' games in 2014, and played three more seasons for the Eagles, Cowboys and Washington as a backup.

He never made a Pro Bowl, but twice he came within one game of the Super Bowl, and he had a couple of 3,000-yard passing seasons.

Sanchez retired in 2019 and now works as a college football TV analyst.


4. Jim Arnold (P, 1983-94)

A two-time All-Pro and two-time Pro Bowl punter, Jim Arnold played 12 years in the NFL with the Kansas City Chiefs, Detroit Lions and Miami Dolphins.

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Arnold's best stretch was in 1987-88, when he earned those aforementioned accolades while punting for Detroit. He was also given Pro Football Weekly's Golden Toe Award in 1987 as the NFL's best kicker or punter.

Arnold led the NFL in total punting yardage twice and in yards per punt one time (44.9, with the Chiefs in 1984).


3. Baker Mayfield (QB, 2018-Present)

The No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft is still early into his NFL career, but he's shown potential to climb to the top of this list soon.

Mayfield won college football's Heisman Trophy at the University of Oklahoma in 2018, then was drafted by the Cleveland Browns, who were coming off a historically bad 0-16 season.

Thrown into a tough situation, Mayfield shined. He set a new NFL rookie record with 27 touchdown passes in his first season and helped the Browns improve to 7-8-1 after that previous winless season.

Mayfield's passing yardage went up in Year 2, but so did his interception totals, and his touchdown numbers dipped. He struggled under first-year head coach Freddie Kitchens, who was fired after one year.

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Now in Year 3, under his fourth Browns head coach and another new offensive system, Mayfield is thriving. Coach Kevin Stefanski has guided the Browns to a 10-4 record and on the brink of a playoff berth. Cleveland's offense has been mostly run-heavy, but Mayfield is doing well in a simplified role. He's completing a career-best 64.0 percent of his passes and has a career-low eight interceptions along with 25 touchdowns. Mayfield's passer rating and Adjusted QBR this season are also career-highs.


2. Johnny Hekker (P, 2012-Present)

Some day, Johnny Hekker could join Oakland Raiders legend Ray Guy as the only other pure punter in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Hekker ranks No. 2 all-time in yards per punt, averaging 46.9 yards over his nine seasons with the St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams.

Hekker is a four-time All-Pro First Team pick, a two-time All-Pro Second Team pick, a four-time Pro Bowl pick, and a two-time league leader in total punting yards. He was named the punter for the Hall of Fame's NFL All-Decade Team for the 2010s, and he holds the record for the longest punt in a Super Bowl (65 yards).

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1. Jay Cutler (QB, 2006-2017)

Throughout his NFL career, Jay Cutler was widely viewed as a talented quarterback he underachieved due to being too laid-back and perhaps too confident in his talent.

Cutler was a starter for the vast majority of his career with the Denver Broncos, Chicago Bears and Miami Dolphins. But only two times did he lead a team to a winning record.

Cutler had a big arm, but similar to Brett Favre, too often he trusted that arm to fire the football in between spaces he shouldn't have been throwing to. Cutler twice led the NFL in interceptions thrown.

Seven times Cutler topped 3,000 passing yards in a season, and six times he tossed 20-plus touchdowns.

In 2008, Cutler was selected to the Pro Bowl. Playing for the Broncos, he passed for 4,526 yards and 25 touchdowns with 18 interceptions.

Cutler only made it to the playoffs once, in 2010 with the Bears. He led Chicago past the Seahawks in the divisional round, but they lost to the rival Packers in the NFC Championship Game.

The No. 11 overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft out of Vanderbilt, Cutler ranks 29th in career passing yards (35,133) and 33rd in touchdowns (227).

Published 22 Dec 2020, 14:53 IST
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