National Football Conference Best Players of All Time

John Rizzo

The National Football Conference (NFC) is one of the two conferences of the National Football League (NFL). It is a highly competitive professional football league comprised of 16 teams, organized into four divisions.

Through the 1970 merger with the rival American Football League, the NFC has grown to become one of the most successful and popular sports leagues in the United States. Every season, teams from the NFC battle for the ultimate prize – a place in the Super Bowl.

With a fierce rivalry between some of the most iconic football teams in the country, the NFC offers an exciting and thrilling experience for both players and fans alike.

Table of Contents

1. Kyler Murray


Kyler Murray Career

  • NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year (2019)
  • 2× Pro Bowl (2020 & 2021)
  • PFWA All-Rookie Team (2019)
  • Heisman Trophy (2018)
  • Davey O'Brien Award (2018)
  • Manning Award (2018)
  • AP College Football Player of the Year (2018)
  • Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year (2018)
  • First-team All-American (2018)
  • First-team All-Big 12 (2018)

Murray was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in 2019. Murray is a quarterback who played for Oklahoma and Texas A&M before joining the Cardinals. He has started 13 games for the Cardinals and has been successful, leading them to a 10-6 record in his first season as a starter.

Murray is considered one of the top young quarterbacks in the league and will be key to any success that the Cardinals have moving forward. 

Kyler Murray was the MVP of the 2019 NFL Draft and is considered one of the top quarterbacks in the league. He won two Pro Bowls as a rookie and led his team to a Super Bowl appearance.

Kyler Murray has been named AP College Football Player of the Year twice, Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year once, First-team All-American twice, and First-team All-Big 12 four times total.

Also Played For: oklahoma sooners football, arizona cardinals

2. Russell Wilson


Russell Wilson Career

  • Super Bowl champion (XLVIII)
  • Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year (2020)
  • Second-team All-Pro (2019)
  • 9× Pro Bowl (2012–2015, 2017–2021)
  • NFL passer rating leader (2015)
  • NFL passing touchdowns leader (2017)
  • Bart Starr Award (2022)
  • Griese–Brees Quarterback of the Year (2011)
  • First-team All-Big Ten (2011)
  • ACC Rookie of the Year (2008)
  • ACC Offensive Rookie of the Year (2008)
  • First-team All-ACC (2008)
  • Second-team All-ACC (2010)
  • NC State Wolfpack jersey No. 16 retired

Russell Wilson was born on November 29, 1988, in Cincinnati, Ohio. He attended Collegiate School where he played football and graduated in 2010. After playing at NC State for two years, he transferred to Wisconsin and became the Badgers' starting quarterback in 2011.

In 2012, Wilson was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks with their 3rd round pick (75th overall). Over the next six seasons, he led Seattle to back-to-back Super Bowl appearances (2014 & 2015), becoming just the 2nd player ever to do so after Tom Brady of the New England Patriots (2007–2012).

On January 14th, 2019 Russell announced his retirement from professional football following a successful season as Captain of the Seahawks' team which made it all the way to Super Bowl LIII against the Los Angeles Rams who eventually won 61-17. 

He was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in 2012 and became their starting quarterback that season.

Wilson led the Seahawks to a Super Bowl victory over the Broncos in 2018, becoming just the second player in NFL history to win multiple championships with two different teams. 

He has also been selected for nine Pro Bowls and holds several franchise records, including the most career passing touchdowns (385) and passer rating (104.1).

In 2020, Wilson received Walter Payton Man of the Year honors from The Associated Press after leading his team to another championship appearance despite injuring his knee late in the season.

Also Played For: wisconsin badgers football, denver broncos

3. Matthew Stafford


Matthew Stafford Career

  • Super Bowl champion (LVI)
  • NFL Comeback Player of the Year (2011)
  • Pro Bowl (2014)
  • Detroit Lions All-Time Team
  • First-team All-American (2008)
  • Second-team All-SEC (2008)

Stafford was drafted by the Detroit Lions in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft. Stafford has spent his entire career with the Lions, appearing in 119 games and completing 6,191 passes for 54,944 yards and 313 touchdowns.

In 2018, Stafford had a season that was somewhat disappointing as he completed just under 60% of his passes for 3,829 yards but only 21 touchdowns against 14 interceptions. 

The Rams acquired Stafford during the offseason of 2021 after trading for him from Detroit.

Stafford is a three-time NFL champion and two-time Pro Bowler. Stafford has led the Detroit Lions to back-to-back playoff appearances, including an appearance in Super Bowl XLVIII. 

In 2015, Stafford became the first player ever to complete 60% or more of his passes in every game of a season.

Also Played For: detroit lions, georgia bulldogs football

4. Zack Martin


Zack Martin Career

  • 5× First-team All-Pro (2014, 2016, 2018, 2019, 2021)
  • 2× Second-team All-Pro (2015, 2017)
  • 8× Pro Bowl (2014–2019, 2021, 2022)
  • PFWA All-Rookie Team (2014)
  • NFL 2010s All-Decade Team
  • Second-team All-American (2012)
  • 2013 Pinstripe Bowl MVP

Zack Martin was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the 2014 NFL Draft. He has played for the Dallas Cowboys since then and is a regular starter on their offensive line.

Zack Martin has been described as an extremely reliable player who always puts his team first. His accolades include two Pro Bowl appearances (2015, 2017) and being named First-Team All-Pro twice (2014, 2016).

Zack Martin is an All-Pro center for the Dallas Cowboys and a three-time First-team All-Pro. He played college football at Notre Dame where he was a unanimous first-team All-American as well as the winner of both the Morris Trophy and Lombardi Award.

Zack Martin has started 131 games in his NFL career, all with the Dallas Cowboys, since being drafted in the second round of the 2010 draft.

Also Played For: dallsa cowboy, dallas cowboys

5. Dak Prescott


Dak Prescott Career

  • NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year (2016)
  • 2× Pro Bowl (2016, 2018)
  • PFWA All-Rookie Team (2016)
  • 2× First-team All-SEC (2014, 2015)

Dak Prescott was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the 2016 NFL Draft. He has played for the Cowboys since 2016 and is currently an active player on their roster.

Dak Prescott has been a starting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys throughout his career, and he's won two Super Bowls with them as well as numerous other awards and accolades.

Dak Prescott was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in 2016 and became their starting quarterback that season. He led his team to a 12-4 record, winning the NFC East and making it to the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.

In 2017, he led his team to another 12-4 record, becoming only the fourth player ever (and youngest) to do so as a rookie QB. This year, Dak Prescott led Dallas all the way to an improbable victory over New England in Super Bowl LI, breaking numerous NFL records along the way en route.

Also Played For: fantasy playoff, nfl playoff

6. Tyron Smith


Tyron Smith Career

  • 2× First-team All-Pro (2014, 2016)
  • 2× Second-team All-Pro (2013, 2015)
  • 8× Pro Bowl (2013–2019, 2021)
  • NFL 2010s All-Decade Team
  • PFWA All-Rookie Team (2011)
  • Morris Trophy (2010)
  • First-team All-Pac-10 (2010)

Tyron Smith is a dominant offensive tackle for the Dallas Cowboys. He was drafted by the Cowboys in 2011 and has since become one of their key players on the offensive line.

Smith is known for his strength, discipline, and ability to block effectively in pass-protection or run-blocking situations. In 2017, he was named to his first Pro Bowl after recording 39 tackles (including 2 sacks) and 1 interception during the regular season campaign with Dallas.

Tyron Smith will be an important player for the Cowboys as they attempt to defend their NFC East title in 2018 alongside stars like Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott Tyron Smith is one of the best offensive linemen in NFL history. 

He has been a two-time first-team all-pro and was also selected to seven Pro Bowls during his career.

Tyron Smith played at Arizona State before being drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in 2007. After spending four seasons with Dallas, he was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles in 2011 where he spent five more seasons until joining the San Francisco 49ers in 2019. 

Tyron Smith's combination of size and athleticism makes him one of the most difficult players for opposing defenses to block and this has helped him accumulate numerous accolades including eight Pro Bowl appearances and two First-team All-Pro selections.

Also Played For: madden nfl 18, 2011 nfl draft

7. Darius Slay


Darius Slay Career

  • First-team All-Pro (2017)
  • 5× Pro Bowl (2017–2019, 2021, 2022)
  • NFL interceptions co-leader (2017)
  • Second-team All-SEC (2012)

Slay was drafted by the Detroit Lions in 2013 but never played a down for them. He was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles in 2020 and has been one of their best cornerbacks ever since.

Slay is known for his ball-hawking skills, which have led to him picking off over 20 passes throughout his career. His biggest contribution to the Eagles may be as a mentor to some of their younger players, such as Nolan Carroll and Rasul Douglas.

Slay will likely retire after this season, although he has said that he would be open to playing again if asked by an NFL team later on in his career. Darius Slay is a cornerback for the Detroit Lions and one of the best at his position in the NFL.

He was named to first-team All-Pro in 2017 and has also been selected to five Pro Bowls. His 128 passes defended are the second most in league history, behind only Richard Sherman. Slay is known for his ability to make big plays on defense, including four defensive touchdowns over the course of his career so far.

8. Aaron Rodgers


Aaron Rodgers Career

  • Super Bowl champion (XLV)
  • Super Bowl MVP (XLV)
  • 4× NFL Most Valuable Player (2011, 2014, 2020, 2021)
  • 4× First-team All-Pro (2011, 2014, 2020, 2021)
  • Second-team All-Pro (2012)
  • 10× Pro Bowl (2009, 2011, 2012, 2014–2016, 2018–2021)
  • 4× NFL passer rating leader (2011, 2012, 2020, 2021)
  • 2× NFL passing touchdowns leader (2016, 2020)
  • NFL completion percentage leader (2020)
  • NFL 2010s All-Decade Team
  • Bart Starr Award (2014)
  • Associated Press Athlete of the Year (2011)
  • Bert Bell Award (2011)

Aaron Rodgers is a quarterback for the Green Bay Packers. He was drafted in the first round of the 2005 NFL Draft and has since led his team to many successes, including winning two Super Bowls (2008, 2011).

In 2013, he signed a contract extension with the Packers that will keep him with them until at least 2019. He is married to Jordyn Wieber and they have three children - Ryder (born in 2018), Landen (born in 2017) and Emmett (born in 2016).

Rodgers is a five-time NFL MVP and four-time Pro Bowler. He has led the Packers to six playoff appearances, including two Super Bowls (XLV and LII). Rodgers holds numerous league records, including completion percentage, yards per attempt and passer rating in the 2010s.

In 2014, he was named AP Athlete of the Year and received the Bart Starr Award that year as well.

Also Played For: green bay packers, university of california

9. Aaron Donald

Defensive end

Aaron Donald Career

  • Super Bowl champion (LVI)
  • 3× NFL Defensive Player of the Year (2017, 2018, 2020)
  • NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year (2014)
  • 7× First-team All-Pro (2015–2021)
  • 9× Pro Bowl (2014–2022)
  • NFL sacks leader (2018)
  • NFL 2010s All-Decade Team
  • PFWA All-Rookie Team (2014)
  • ACC Defensive Player of the Year (2013)
  • Bronko Nagurski Trophy (2013)
  • Chuck Bednarik Award (2013)
  • Lombardi Award (2013)
  • Outland Trophy (2013)
  • Bill Willis Trophy (2013)
  • Unanimous All-American (2013)

Aaron Donald is a dominant defensive tackle and one of the best players in the NFL. He has twice been voted to the Pro Bowl and was named Second Team All-Pro in 2018.

Donald played college football at Pittsburgh, where he won two National Championships (2013, 2017). He was drafted by St. Louis with the 13th overall pick in 2014 and has since been joined by Los Angeles as his home team.

Aaron Donald is an incredibly physical player who uses his size to dominate opposing offensive linemen. His strength allows him to push through blocks and get into backfield territory quickly, disrupting offenses on every play.

Despite being one of the most physically imposing defenders in the league, Aaron Donald still manages to be effective against running backs due to his quickness off the snap and ability to bull rush them into submission. 

Donald also possesses elite pass-rushing skills, having recorded 43 sacks over six seasons with St Louis/Los Angeles Rams. 

He leads all interior defensive linemen with 11 forced fumbles during that time frame too, demonstrating that he can make big impacts even when not getting sacks. 

Aaron Donald will likely enter Hall of Fame discussions once he retires from professional football given his level of dominance both on AND off the field throughout his career. 

Aaron Donald is a dominant defensive tackle who has been named to multiple All-Pro teams and Pro Bowls during his career.

Donald was the first player in NFL history to be selected as both a Defensive Rookie of the Year and a First-Team All-Pro. He led all interior players with 11 sacks in 2018, earning him NFL sacks leader honors for the season. 

Despite being 31 years old, Aaron Donald still has plenty left in the tank and looks poised to continue playing at an elite level well into his 30s.

Also Played For: los aggeles rams, defensive end

10. Terron Armstead


Terron Armstead Career

  • 4× Pro Bowl (2018–2020, 2022)
  • Second-team All-Pro (2018)
  • 3× First-team All-SWAC (2010–2012)

Armstead was drafted by the New Orleans Saints in 2013 and has since played for the Miami Dolphins, Los Angeles Rams, and Kansas City Chiefs. 

Armstead is known for his strength at offensive tackle and consistency on the field.

He will likely be playing in his tenth NFL season this year with a chance to win a Super Bowl title. Armstead is a standout offensive lineman for the Saints and Dolphins. He has started all 103 games he's played in his career, including 102 starts at left tackle and one start at right tackle.

Armstead was a second-team All-Pro in 2018 and a third-team selection in 2016 and 2017. The Louisiana native has been named to the SWAC first team three times (2010–2012). 

Armstead attended North Carolina State University before being drafted by New Orleans in 2013 as the 23rd overall pick in the NFL Draft.

Also Played For: miami dolphins

11. Kirk Cousins


Kirk Cousins Career

  • 4× Pro Bowl (2016, 2019, 2021, 2022)
  • NFL completion percentage leader (2015)
  • Bart Starr Award (2022)
  • Second-team All-Big Ten (2011)

Cousins started his NFL career with the Washington Redskins. In 2018, Cousins joined the Minnesota Vikings and has been a key player for them this season.

Cousins is one of the most experienced players in the league and has led teams to playoff appearances in each of his four seasons as a starter. He has excellent passing skills and can make plays with both his arm and legs on offense.

His consistency over the past few years makes him an attractive option for any team looking for a quarterback prospect or veteran backup player. Despite being 34 years old, he still possesses some elite qualities that could lead him to success in future seasons if he continues to play at a high level.

Kirk Cousins has had a successful NFL career, having been named to four Pro Bowls and leading the league in completion percentage twice. 

He also holds several records, including most fourth-quarter comebacks and game-winning drives in a single season. Cousins is known for his accurate passing and strong work ethic both on and off the field.

Also Played For: minnesota vikings, running back redskins

12. Phil Simms


Phil Simms Career

  • 2× Super Bowl champion (XXI, XXV)
  • Super Bowl MVP (XXI)
  • Jim Thorpe Trophy (1986)
  • NEA First-team All-Pro (1986)
  • 2× Pro Bowl (1985, 1992)
  • Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award (1993)
  • PFWA All-Rookie Team (1979)
  • New York Giants Ring of Honor
  • New York Giants No. 11 retired

Phil Simms was a standout quarterback in high school and college before being drafted by the New York Giants in 1979. He spent 12 seasons with the team, leading them to two Super Bowl victories (1986 and 1990) along the way.

In 1993, Simms was traded to the Baltimore Ravens where he played one season before retiring. After his playing career ended, he served as an analyst on NFL Network until 2018. Phil Simms is now 67 years old and lives in Kentucky with his wife of 38 years.

Phil Simms was one of the most successful quarterbacks in NFL history. He won two Super Bowls and was twice named MVP, earning the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award in 1993. Despite his success on the field, Simms is also known for his humorous personality and sharp sense of humor.

For example, he once said, "I may be a good quarterback, but I'm an even better actor." In 2002, Phil Simms received a liver transplant after being diagnosed with Stage IV cancer. 

His recovery from surgery inspired him to start The Phil Simms Foundation which helps fight cancer through awareness and fundraising events.

After retiring from football in 2003, Phil spent time as a broadcaster for CBS before joining FOX Sports where he currently serves as an analyst for their Sunday night game broadcasts alongside play-by-play man Chris Myers.

Also Played For: new york giants

13. George Kittle

Tight end

George Kittle Career

  • First-team All-Pro (2019)
  • Second-team All-Pro (2018)
  • 4× Pro Bowl (2018, 2019, 2021, 2022)

George Kittle was born on October 9, 1993, in Madison, Wisconsin. He attended Norman High School and played tight end for the Norman Warriors football team before transferring to Iowa as a junior in 2012.

In 2016, he redshirted his final year with the Hawkeyes and declared for the 2017 NFL Draft where he was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the fifth round of the draft. 

Kittle has appeared in all 16 games during his rookie season (2017), recording 36 receptions for 431 yards and two touchdowns – both career highs.

In 2018, he made 48 catches for 522 yards and three touchdowns while appearing in 14 games overall – missing time due to injury early on but later returning to play key roles down the stretch including a touchdown catch against Arizona that helped seal an NFC Wild Card berth for SF.

As of 2019, George Kittle is one of just four players ever with at least 50 receptions through their first three seasons (50+ catches:1st-George Kittle; 51-100: Kelvin Benjamin; 101-150: Antonio Brown).

At 6'4", 250 pounds, there's no denying that GeorgeKittle possesses size which makes him difficult to defend when working over double coverage or running deep routes downfield. 

George Kittle is an all-around receiver for the San Francisco 49ers. He has caught 386 passes for 5,202 yards and 28 touchdowns in his career. 

George Kittle helped the 49ers to make it to the Super Bowl in 2019 where they lost to the New England Patriots. In 2021 and 2022, he was named a first-team All-Pro by both NFLPA and Pro Football Focus respectively.

George Kittle will be entering his eighth season with the 49ers in 2022 and looks likely to continue being one of their top receivers for years to come.

Also Played For: san francisco 49ers, the university of iowa

14. Jalen Hurts


Jalen Hurts Career

  • Pro Bowl (2022)
  • CFP national champion (2017)
  • Sugar Bowl Offensive MVP (2017)
  • Big 12 Offensive Newcomer of the Year (2019)
  • First-team All-Big 12 (2019)
  • First-team All-SEC (2016)
  • SEC Offensive Player of the Year (2016)
  • SEC Freshman of the Year (2016)

Jalen Hurts started his career at Alabama before transferring to Oklahoma in 2019. He has appeared in 20 games with the Philadelphia Eagles over the past two seasons, completing 59% of his passes for 1,089 yards and six touchdowns.

Jalen is set to be a key part of the Eagles' offense next season, and he could have an excellent chance at winning the starting job ahead of Mike Vick. Jalen Hurts is a talented quarterback who has played at the highest level of college football.

He was one of the most successful quarterbacks in 2018, leading Alabama to an undefeated season and a championship victory over Georgia in the College Football Playoff. In his rookie year in the NFL, Hurts had some impressive stats - he completed 58 percent of his passes and threw for 7,677 yards.

However, he also had 44 touchdowns to 18 interceptions which shows that there is still room for improvement as a player. It's expected that Hurts will be given more responsibility with time - especially after being named the starter for Week 1 of the 2019 season. 

If he can continue to develop and perform well on the field then he could have a bright future ahead of him in professional football.

Also Played For: philadelphia eagles

15. Brandon Graham

Defensive end

Brandon Graham Career

  • Super Bowl champion (LII)
  • Second-team All-Pro (2016)
  • Pro Bowl (2020)
  • Big Ten Most Valuable Player (2009)
  • First-team All-American (2009)
  • First-team All-Big Ten (2009)
  • Second-team All-Big Ten (2008)

Graham was drafted 13th overall by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2010 NFL Draft. He has played for the Eagles since 2010 and has been a mainstay on their defensive line ever since.

Graham is a two-time Pro Bowler, having received his first accolade in 2017 after recording 11 sacks that season. 

His athleticism and explosiveness have made him one of the best defensive ends in football over the course of his career so far.

Brandon Graham is a former first-team All-American and pro bowl selection who had an outstanding career in the NFL. 

Graham was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the second round of the 2009 draft and played there for six seasons before being traded to Seattle Seahawks in 2017.

In his six years with Philadelphia, Graham recorded 449 tackles, 70 sacks, 21 forced fumbles, 7 fumble recoveries, and 8 pass deflections. 

After two seasons with Seattle (2017-2018), he was traded to Arizona Cardinals where he finished out his career last season.

Also Played For: madden nfl 19

16. Nelson Agholor

Wide receiver

Nelson Agholor Career

  • Philadelphia Eagles (2015–2019)
  • Las Vegas Raiders (2020)
  • New England Patriots (2021–present)

Nelson Agholor was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft. Nelson Agholor has spent his entire career with the Philadelphia Eagles, playing in 67 games and recording 1,272 receiving yards and eight touchdowns.

He also added 184 rushing yards and one touchdown on 54 carries during his time with the team. In 2019, Nelson Aglor transitioned to wide receiver for the New England Patriots after being traded from Philly earlier that year. 

He has since appeared in five games for them and recorded 44 receptions for 605 yards and three touchdowns.

Nelson Agholor is a talented wide receiver with the Philadelphia Eagles. He was drafted by the team in 2015 and has since emerged as one of its most important players. 

Agholor has been a reliable target for quarterback Carson Wentz, putting up stat lines that would make any player proud. In his five seasons in the NFL, he's averaged over 1,000 receiving yards and eight touchdowns per season.

With an ever-growing list of suitors this offseason, it will be interesting to see if Agholor can continue his success in Philadelphia or if he moves on to greener pastures next year.

Final Words

The National Football Conference (NFC) is one of the two conferences of the National Football League. Over the years, it has produced some of the best players in the league.

Some of the most notable players in the NFC include Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, and Aaron Rodgers. These players have been instrumental in helping their teams win many championships.

Photo of author

John Rizzo

I am a professional rugby player in the Washington DC-Baltimore area. I have been playing rugby for over 10 years and have had the opportunity to play in many different countries. I am also a coach for both youth and adult rugby teams. I graduated from Johns Hopkins University with a degree in Sports Management and Marketing. I am currently working on my MPA from American University and plan to pursue this career path after graduating next year. LinkedIn

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