Number 45 and the Three Dolphins Who Wore It Best

Alain Poupart

The countdown to the start of the 2020 regular season has begun now that we're under 100 days away, so we'll honor every day the best players to wear the correspondent number for the Dolphins.

Today, we're at number 45.

The top players at each number so far have been:

99. DE/LB Jason Taylor; 98. DL Jared Odrick; 97. DT Jordan Phillips; 96. DT Paul Soliai; 95. DT Tim Bowens; 94. DT Randy Starks; 93. DE Trace Armstrong; 92. LS John Denney; 91. DE/LB Cameron Wake; 90. DE/LB Marco Coleman

89. WR Nat Moore; 88. TE Keith Jackson; 87. TE Andre Tillman; 86. WR Oronde Gadsden; 85. LB Nick Buoniconti; 84. DE Bill Stanfill; 83. WR Mark Clayton; 82. WR Brian Hartline; 81. WR O.J. McDuffie; 80. WR Irving Fryar

79. T Jon Giesler; 78. T Richmond Webb; 77. DE/LB A.J. Duhe; 76. T Branden Albert; 75. DT Manny Fernandez; 74. T Mark Dennis; 73. DT Bob Baumhower; 72. DT Bob Heinz; 71. T Todd Wade; 70. DE Kendall Langford

69. G Keith Sims; 68. T Eric Laakso; 67. G/T Bob Kuechenberg; 66. G Larry Little; 65. OL Jeff Dellenbach; 64. G Ed Newman; 63. G/T Mark Dixon; 62. C Jim Langer; 61. C Tim Ruddy; 60. G Bert Weidner

59. LB Doug Swift; 58. DE-LB Kim Bokamper; 57. C Dwight Stephenson; 56. LB John Offerdahl; 55. LB Earnest Rhone; 54. LB Zach Thomas; 53. LB Bob Matheson; 52. LB Channing Crowder; 51. LB Bryan Cox; 50. LB Larry Gordon

49. CB William Judson; 48. CB Gerald Small; 47. S Glenn Blackwood; 46. S Don Bessillieu

As a reminder about the ground rules, the top three will be determined only by what the players did while wearing that uniform for the Dolphins.

Players who wore 45 for at least one regular season game:

CB Mack Lamb (1967-68), CB Curtis Johnson (1970-78), DB Ed Taylor (1979-81), DB Robert Sowell (1983-85), S Trell Hooper (1987), CB Rodney Thomas (1988), S Bobby Harden (1990-93), S Brian Walker (1998, 2000-01), KR Lamont Brightful (2004), FB Reagan Maui'a (2007), LB Austin Spitler (2013), LB Jake Knott (2014), LB Mike Hull (2015-18)

The debate:

There isn't a debate when it comes to the top player to wear 45 for the Dolphins because cornerback Curtis Johnson was a starter for the Super Bowl defenses of the 1970s. Johnson never got the credit he fully deserved (never made the Pro Bowl) despite being a very good cornerback. His best season statistically was his first when he had three interceptions and four fumble recoveries. The battle for the second and third spots at number 45 is a lot closer. Everett Taylor, who went by Ed Taylor, played in 27 games with five starts for the Dolphins and had three interceptions in 1980. Robert Sowell spent a total of four seasons with the Dolphins, though in his last in 1987 he wore 42. In the first, he was a special teams specialist who appeared in 42 games with one start. Bobby Harden, a two-time national champion at the University of Miami, played 29 games in four seasons with the Dolphins and all five of his starts came in 1991 when he had two interceptions and a fumble recovery. Brian Walker started all 29 games he played in his second stint with Miami after spending the 1999 season with Seattle. He probably should have made the Pro Bowl in 2000 when he had seven interceptions and two forced fumbles. Mike Hull made the Dolphins roster after being undrafted and made four starts while playing every game in 2016 and 2017. But knee problems cost him the first half of 2018 and all of 2019, and the Dolphins let him go this offseason.

Worth noting:

Mack Lamb's name should be familiar to Dolphins fans, but not because of his two seasons in Miami (15 games, six starts). It's because he was the player traded to the San Diego Chargers in the deal that brought back a little-known offensive lineman who would go on to have a Hall of Fame career for the Dolphins, Larry Little. ... Trell Hooper's entire NFL career consisted of the three strike-replacement games he played for the Dolphins in 1987, but he sure made them count. He had interceptions in his first and third games sandwiched around a fumble return for a touchdown in a 42-0 victory against Kansas City. ... Rodney Thomas played three full seasons with Miami after being a fifth-round pick in 1988, but he wore 45 only as a rookie before switching to 24. ... Reagan Maui'a, a sixth-round pick out of Hawaii, was most known for a YouTube video where he rams head-first into a wall and then screams, "I'm the F---ing juggernaut. He played one season for the Dolphins and started nine games, but was waived the following August and went on to play four more seasons in the NFL. ... Spitler played the final of his four seasons with Miami wearing 45 after donning 53 from 2010-12. 

The top three:

1. CB Curtis Johnson

2. S Brian Walker

3. LB Mike Hull

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