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Top 10 Fullbacks in American Football | Ranking the Best of the 21st Century

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In American football, the position of fullback has seen the rise of some exceptional players over the past 22 years. In this article, we will explore the top 10 fullbacks of the 21st century, highlighting their achievements and contributions to the game. While personal preferences may vary, we have carefully selected these players based on their performances and impact. Let’s dive into the list!

1. Lorenzo Neal: The Consistent Force

Lorenzo Neal claims the top spot on our list, though it was a tough decision given the talent that follows. With an impressive run from 1997 to 2007, Neal showcased exceptional skills as a blocker, enabling numerous 1,000+ yard rushers. His longevity and consistent performance make him one of the greatest NFL fullbacks of all time.

2. Tony Richardson: A Legendary Figure

Tony Richardson, widely regarded as one of the best fullbacks in NFL history, secures the second position on our list. Throughout his career, Richardson excelled in blocking for 1,000-yard rushers for nine consecutive seasons, a remarkable achievement.

His induction into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame and recognition as part of the NFL’s All-Decade 2000s team further solidify his status as a legend.

3. Mike Alstott: Powerhouse of the Buccaneers

Mike Alstott, an integral part of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, holds the third spot on our list. Known for his remarkable contributions to the team’s first Super Bowl victory in 2003, Alstott received numerous individual and team awards. Inducted into the Buccaneers’ Ring of Honor, he is widely regarded as one of the top fullbacks in NFL history.

4. Jerome Bettis: The Power Runner

Jerome Bettis, a powerhouse running back, secures the fourth spot on our list. Although his prime years were in the 1990s, his impact extended into the 21st century. With six Pro Bowl selections and a Super Bowl win with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Bettis proved himself as one of the game’s greats. While not exclusively a fullback, his accomplishments warrant a place on this list.

5. Kyle Juszczyk: A Modern-Day Force

Kyle Juszczyk, the first active NFL player on our list, has made a significant impact as a fullback. While he may be entering the later stages of his career, his contributions have secured his status as a potential Hall of Famer. 

The San Francisco 49ers recognized his value, signing him to a record-breaking contract for a fullback. Juszczyk’s performance and versatility make him a standout player.

6. James Develin: Super Bowl Champion

James Develin, a three-time Super Bowl winner with the New England Patriots, claims the sixth spot on our list. As a true fullback, his career was entirely in the 21st century, earning him a place among the top players of this era. 

Overcoming early adversity, Develin’s contributions to the Patriots’ success and inclusion in their All-2010s team highlight his exceptional abilities.

7. Larry Centers: Receiving Specialist

Larry Centers, known for his exceptional receiving skills as a fullback, secures the seventh spot on our list. While the peak of his career was in the 1990s, his impact continued into the 21st century. 

Centers holds the record for the most passes caught by a running back in NFL history. With multiple Pro Bowl selections and a Super Bowl victory, Centers has left a lasting legacy.

8. John Kuhn: Overcoming the Odds

John Kuhn, an undrafted free agent who defied expectations, earns the eighth spot on our list. With three Pro Bowl selections and a crucial role in the Green Bay Packers’ Super Bowl victory, Kuhn demonstrated his determination and talent. His story is a testament to perseverance and the ability to rise above challenges.

9. Cory Schlesinger: Detroit Lions' Standout

Cory Schlesinger, a consistent performer for the Detroit Lions, secures the ninth spot on our list. Known for his impressive performances and statistics, Schlesinger featured in multiple Pro Bowl teams. 

While he did not win a Super Bowl, his contributions earned him recognition as one of the top fullbacks of his time. He is a testament to the Lions’ rich football heritage.

10. Vonta Leach: An Underrated Talent

Vonta Leach, an underrated fullback of the past two decades, rounds off our top 10 list. Despite winning a Super Bowl and being named to the All-Pro first team multiple times, Leach often goes unrecognized by fans and analysts. 

However, his contributions to the Houston Texans, including his role in Arian Foster’s incredible campaign, solidify his place among the best.


As we move further into the 21st century, the landscape of American football continues to evolve. These ten fullbacks have made their mark on the game, showcasing exceptional skills and contributing to their teams’ success. 

While opinions may differ, their achievements cannot be denied. We eagerly await the future, anticipating new talents that may rise and leave their own legacy on the field.

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