When your team has a pick in the top 10 of the NFL draft you expect to land a franchise type player. Of course, it doesn't always work out that way, so that got me thinking about the best players of all time selected in the top 10 on the draft.
Here's the list in no particular order...
Peyton Manning 1998 Colts: (that was an easy one) Manning's first 10 seasons in the league have led to more wins and passing yards then any QB in their first 10 years and he holds the record for most total passing seasons over 4,000 yards and the most consecutive seasons over 4,000 passing yards. He's also second on the all time passer rating list and won a super bowl along with two MVP awards.
John Elway 1983 Colts: Known for not being able to win the big one Elway is the poster boy for perseverance as he won two super bowls in his last two seasons including the super bowl MVP in the last game of his career. He would go on to pass for 51,475 yards and 300 touchdowns during his 16 year career and was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 2004. A gifted athlete, Elway was also drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the 1979 baseball draft.
Walter Payton 1975 Bears: Sweetness was drafted no. 4 out of Jackson St. University and in his second season he rushed for over 1,000 and scored 17 touchdowns. Payton would play a total of 13 seasons and run for a then record 16,726 yards and 77 1,000 yard games, both records later passed by Emmitt Smith. Payton's motto was never die easy and he had 10 seasons of at least 1,000 yards and won the 1977 NFL MVP.
Barry Sanders 1989 Lions: At only 5-8 and 203 pounds the amazingly agile Sanders rushed for over 1,000 yards in every season in which he played and finished with 15,269 in only 10 seasons. In 1997 Sanders put up 2,053 yards along with 14 straight 100-yard games. He would make the pro bowl in every season and averaged five yards per carry for his career. In a Jim Brown type retirement, had Sanders played two more season he would certainly be the all time leading rusher for a career.
Tim Brown 1998 Raiders: Mr. Raider would play 17 seasons, 16 with the Raiders, and would tally the third most receptions, 1,094 and the second most receiving yards, 14,934, in his career. Brown would make nine pro bowls and set team records for most games played, most receptions, most receiving yards and the most punt return yards. In his last season he would reach 100 career touchdowns that tied him for third all time behind Jerry Rice and Chris Carter
James Lofton 1978 Packers: Lofton is often forgotten as a top 10 pick but only two other wide receivers have registered more receiving yards,14,004, and average 18.3 yards per catch for his career. The eight time pro bowler was the first player to score a touchdown in the 70's, 80's and 90's and was the oldest player to record 1,000 yards in a season. He was also an accomplished track and field star as he won the long jump at the 1978 NCAA track and field championships.
Joe Greene 1969 Steelers: "Mean Joe" Greene was the staple of the steel curtain for the Pittsburgh Steelers of the 70's. Greene would be named defensive rookie of the years, make 10 pro bowls and named defensive player of the year in 1972 and 1974. He would help lead the Steelers to four super bowls in a six year span. He is considered by many to be the best defensive lineman to ever play the game. Greene is also known for what he called the "pinch" when he lined up at an angle to take up open holes.
Lawrence Taylor 1981 Giants: L.T. is widely considered the best outside linebacker of all time for his ability to disrupt both the pass and run game. Taylor would record 10 or more sacks from 1984 to 1990 with a career high 20.5 in 1986. That year he won the league MVP award and also won three defensive player of the year awards. He would be named to 10 pro bowls and recorded 132.5 sacks.
Others that will one day make this list are LaDainian Tomlinson, Torry Holt, Julius Peppers, Chris McAlister, Brian Urlacher, Fred Taylor, Joey Galloway, Roy Williams, Champ Bailey and Jamal Lewis.