The NFL draft is largely a crap shoot. Teams do their research, scrutinize each player thoroughly, do their scouting evaluations, and even after all that and more, sometimes they still miss.
Nowhere is the risk/reward factor greater than with the team holding the No. 1 overall selection. That's the position the St. Louis Rams are in this year.
While Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh is regarded by most as the best, and safest, player in this year's draft class, all signs point to the Rams' selecting Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford with the top pick.
Will this move pan out for the Rams? Time will only tell—a story that has already played out several times in the 75-year history of the draft. There have been some great ones selected No. 1, and some really bad choices made.
Players don't live up to the hype, whether it be due to injury or illness, or simply a lack of talent or mental toughness.
There will be no Ernie Davis—the top pick in the 1962 NFL draft who never played a down in the NFL because of leukemia. I just don't think it's fair to do. Illnesses unrelated to football are unforeseen, and not what I'm basing this list on.
Ironically, the first-ever player selected in the 1936 draft, Jay Berwanger, by the Chicago Bears, chose not to play football. Instead he worked as a sportswriter and later opened his own car parts store. It was different era of professional football, and that is why Berwanger is not on my list.
Also not appearing on the list will be players like George Cafego, Tom Harmon, Sam Francis, and Corbett Davis, whose playing careers were interrupted by World War II.
Nor will there be Ryan Leaf—he was the second player taken in the 1998 draft, and this list is for only the top picks.
This is also restricted to the NFL draft, so although Buck Buchanan had a Hall of Fame career, he was the top pick of the 1963 AFL draft. Same goes for Larry Elkins, who played just two seasons after being selected No. 1 by the Houston Oilers in 1965.