NFL Draft: Ranking the No. 1 Overall Picks of the Last 25 Years

Nick Kappel@@NickKappelAnalyst IIIApril 13, 2011

NFL Draft: Ranking the No. 1 Overall Picks of the Last 25 Years

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    NFL fans are eagerly awaiting the 2011 NFL draft, set to kick off in less than two weeks.

    You can digest all the mock drafts and scouting reports you want, but to understand the NFL draft in it's entirety, you must know some of the history behind it.

    With that in mind, I've ranked each No. 1 overall pick of the last 25 years.

    This list includes one Hall of Famer, and a few others who will certainly be enshrined when their time comes.

    Of the last 25 No. 1 overall picks, seven of them have won a Super Bowl, and two of them have won multiple rings.

    Not surprisingly, more than half (14) of the last 25 No. 1 overall picks were quarterbacks.

    Now onto the list. Keep in mind these rankings are my opinions based on their NFL accomplishments.

    Enjoy!

25. JaMarcus Russell

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    With the first pick in the 2007 NFL draft, the Oakland Raiders selected QB JaMarcus Russell, from Louisiana State.

    Doh!

    • Three seasons (25 starts)
    • 18 TDs, 23 INTs
    • 4,083 yards
    • 52.1 completion percentage
    • 65.2 QB rating

    Russell finished 7-18 as a starter, and is no longer in the NFL. He's probably somewhere on a beach, sitting in a pile of $32 million, having chocolate-covered strawberries fed to him.

    Notable first-rounders selected after Russell in the 2007 draft include: Calvin Johnson, Joe Thomas, LaRon Landry, Adrian Peterson, Patrick Willis and Darrelle Revis.

24. Steve Emtman

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    With the first pick in the 1992 NFL draft, the Indianapolis Colts selected DE/LB Steve Emtman, from Washington.

    Wait. Who?

    • Three seasons (five starts)
    • Three sacks
    • One INT
    • Three force fumbles
    • Three fumble recoveries
    • 121 tackles

    Notable first-rounders selected after Emtman in the 1992 draft include: Desmond Howard, Troy Vincent, Chester McGlockton and Dale Carter.

23. Ki-Jana Carter

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    With the first pick in the 1995 NFL draft, the Cincinnati Bengals selected RB Ki-Jana Carter, from Penn State.

    • Seven seasons (14 starts)
    • 319 carries for 1,144 yards (3.6 avg)
    • 20 rushing TDs
    • 66 receptions for 469 yards
    • One receiving TD

    Carter tore his ACL in the first preseason game of his rookie season, and never turned into the running back the Bungals had hoped he would.

    Notable first-rounders selected after Carter in the 1995 draft include: Tony Boselli, Steve McNair, Kerry Collins, Joey Galloway, Warren Sapp, Ty Law and Derrick Brooks.

22. Courtney Brown

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    With the first pick in the 2000 NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns selected DE Courtney Brown, from Penn State.

    • Six seasons (60 starts)
    • 19 sacks
    • Six forced fumbles
    • Eight fumble recoveries
    • 156 tackles

    Brown struggled with injuries throughout his short career, and was eventually released by the Denver Broncos in 2007 after failing a physical.

    Notable first-rounders selected after Brown in the 2000 draft include: Chris Samuels, Jamal Lewis, Thomas Jones, Plaxico Burress, Brian Urlacher, Shaun Ellis, John Abraham, Shaun Alexander, Chris Hovan and Keith Bulluck.

21. Tim Couch

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    With the first pick in the 1999 NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns selected QB Tim Couch, from Kentucky.

    The Browns were "reactivated" in '99 after the original franchise moved to Baltimore following the '95 season. The Browns had the No. 1 pick in '99 and '00, and both of them were busts. No wonder they've  only made the playoffs once since their return to the NFL.

    • Five seasons (59 starts)
    • 64 TDs, 67 INTs
    • 11,131 yards
    • 59.8 completion percentage
    • 75.1 QB rating

    Notable first-rounders selected after Couch in the 1999 draft include: Donovan McNabb, Edgerrin James, Ricky Williams, Torry Holt, Champ Bailey, Damien Woody and Al Wilson.

20. Aundray Bruce

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    With the first pick in the 1988 NFL Draft, the Atlanta Falcons selected LB/DE Aundray Bruce, from Auburn.

    • 11 seasons (42 starts)
    • 32 sacks
    • Four INTs
    • Nine forced fumbles
    • Three fumble recoveries
    • 264 tackles

    Notable first-rounders selected after Bruce in the 1988 draft include: Neil Smith, Tim Brown, Sterling Sharpe, Michael Irvin, Randall McDaniel and Craig Heyward.

     

19. Alex Smith

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    With the first pick in the 2005 NFL Draft, the San Francisco 49ers selected QB Alex Smith, from Utah.

    • Five seasons (50 starts)
    • 51 TDs, 53 INTs
    • 9,399 yards
    • 57.1 completion percentage
    • 72.1 QB rating

    Smith is still with the 49ers, but will likely serve a backup role in 2011.

    Notable first-rounders selected after Smith in the 2005 draft include: Ronnie Brown, DeMarcus Ware, Derrick Johnson, Aaron Rodgers, Roddy White and Logan Mankins.

     

18. Bo Jackson

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    With the first pick in the 1986 NFL draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected RB Bo Jackson, from Auburn.

    Jackson never played for the Bucs, opting to go pro in baseball with the Kansas City Royals instead. He was drafted by the Los Angeles Raiders in the seventh round of the 1987 draft, and was allowed to play baseball and football.

    Jackson suffered a career-ending hip injury in 1990.

    • Four seasons (28 starts)
    • 515 carries, 2,782 yards (5.4 avg)
    • 16 rushing TDs
    • 40 receptions, 352 yards
    • Two receiving TDs

17. David Carr

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    With the first pick in the 2002 NFL Draft, the Houston Texans selected QB David Carr, from Fresno State.

    David Carr was the first draft pick (excluding the expansion draft) of the Houston Texans' franchise. He's now a backup for the San Francisco 49ers.

    • Nine seasons (79 starts)
    • 65 TDs, 71 INTs
    • 14,433 yards
    • 59.7 completion percentage
    • 74.9 QB rating

    Notable first-rounders selected after Carr in the 2002 draft include: Julius Peppers, Dwight Freeney, Albert Haynesworth, Phillip Buchanon and Ed Reed.

16. Matthew Stafford

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    With the first pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions selected QB Matthew Stafford, from Georgia.

    Stafford certainly has the potential to become a very good QB, but his young career has been filled with ineffectiveness and injuries thus far.

    • Two seasons (13 starts)
    • 19 TDs, 21 INTs
    • 2,802 yards
    • 54.5 completion percentage
    • 67.1 QB rating

    Notable first-rounders selected after Stafford in the 2009 draft include: Mark Sanchez, B.J. Raji, Brian Orakpo, Jeremy Maclin, Clay Matthews and Hakeem Nicks.

15. Dan Wilkinson

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    With the first pick in the 1994 NFL Draft, the Cincinnati Bengals selected DT Dan Wilkinson, from Ohio State.

    • 12 seasons (182 starts)
    • 54.5 sacks
    • Five INTs
    • Six forced fumbles
    • Four fumble recoveries
    • 301 tackles
    • One safety

    Notable first-rounders selected after Wilkinson in the 1994 draft include: Marshall Faulk, Willie McGinest, Trent Dilfer and Bryant Young.

14. Jeff George

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    With the first pick in the 1990 NFL Draft, the Indianapolis Colts selected QB Jeff George, from Illinois.

    • 12 seasons (124 starts)
    • 154 TDs, 113 INTs
    • 27,602 yards
    • 57.9 completion percentage
    • 80.4 QB rating
    • 1-2 record as playoff starter

    Notable first-rounders selected after George in the 1990 draft include: Cortez Kennedy, Junior Seau and Emmitt Smith.

     

     

     

13. Vinny Testaverde

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    With the first pick in the 1987 NFL Draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected QB Vinny Testaverde, from Miami.

    • 21 seasons (214 starts)
    • 275 TDs, 267 INTs
    • 46,233 yards
    • 56.5 completion percentage
    • 75.0 QB rating
    • Two Pro Bowl selections
    • 2-3 record as playoff starter

    Notable first-rounders selected after Testaverde in the 1987 draft include: Cornelius Bennett and Rod Woodson.

12. Sam Bradford

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    With the first pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, the St. Louis Rams selected QB Sam Bradford, from Oklahoma.

    • One season (16 starts)
    • 18 TDs, 15 INTs
    • 3,512 yards
    • 60.0 completion percentage
    • 76.5 QB rating

    Bradford obviously doesn't have a pro resume that could even sniff that of the aforementioned George or Testaverde, but he played exceptionally well as a rookie. The Rams appear to have struck gold with their No. 1 pick in 2010.

     

11. Russell Maryland

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    With the first pick of the 1991 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys selected DT Russell Maryland, from Miami.

    • Nine seasons (140 starts)
    • 24.5 sacks
    • One INT
    • Nine forced fumbles
    • Six fumble recoveries
    • 375 tackles
    • One Pro Bowl selection
    • Three-time Super Bowl winner

     

10. Carson Palmer

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    With the first pick in the 2003 NFL Draft, the Cincinnati Bengals selected QB Carson Palmer, from USC.

    Palmer sat on the bench his entire rookie year before being named the Bengals' starting QB in 2004.

    • Seven seasons (97 starts)
    • 154 TDs, 100 INTs
    • 22,694 yards
    • 62.9 completion percentage
    • 86.9 QB rating
    • Two Pro Bowl selections
    • 0-2 record as playoff starter

    Notable first-rounders selected after Palmer in the 2003 draft include: Andre Johnson, Kevin Williams, Terrell Suggs, Troy Polamalu, Dallas Clark and Nnamdi Asomugha.

9. Keyshawn Johnson

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    With the first pick in the 1996 NFL draft, the Orlando Breakers, er, I mean the New York Jets selected WR Keyshawn Johnson, from USC.

    • 11 seasons (162 starts)
    • 814 receptions
    • 10,571 yards
    • 64 receiving TDs
    • Three Pro Bowl selections
    • One-time Super Bowl winner

    Notable first-rounders selected after Johnson in the 1996 draft include: Simeon Rice, Jonathan Ogden, Eddie George, Marvin Harrison and Ray Lewis.

     

8. Michael Vick

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    With the first pick in the 2001 NFL Draft, the Atlanta Falcons selected QB Michael Vick, from Virginia Tech.

    • Eight seasons (79 starts)
    • 93 TDs, 58 INTs
    • 14,609 passing yards
    • 55.3 completion percentage
    • 80.2 QB rating
    • 653 carries
    • 4,630 rushing yards (7.1 avg)
    • 32 rushing TDs
    • Four Pro Bowl selections

    Vick missed all but five games in 2003 with broken leg. Of course he also missed all of 2007 and 2008 while serving a prison sentence. If he hadn't lost two seasons of his prime years, he'd probably be much closer to the top of this list.

    Notable first-rounders selected after Vick in the 2003 draft include: LaDanian Tomlinson, Richard Seymour, Steve Hutchinson, Casey Hampton and Reggie Wayne.

     

7. Mario Williams

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    With the first pick in the 2006 NFL Draft, the Houston Texans selected DE Mario Williams from North Carolina State.

    • Five seasons (77 starts)
    • 48 sacks
    • 10 forced fumbles
    • Three fumble recoveries
    • 182 tackles
    • Two Pro Bowl selections

    Notable first-rounders selected after Williams in the 2006 draft include: Reggie Bush, D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Vernon Davis, Jay Cutler, Haloti Ngata and Tamba Hali.

     

6. Jake Long

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    With the first pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, the Miami Dolphins selected T Jake Long, from Michigan.

    • Three seasons (48 starts)
    • Three Pro Bowl selections
    • One First-team All-Pro selection

    Notable first-round selections after Long in the 2008 draft include: Vernon Gholston.

5. Eli Manning

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    With the first pick in the 2004 NFL Draft, the San Diego Chargers selected QB Eli Manning, from Mississippi.

    Manning was then sent to New York in exchange for Philip Rivers (the fourth overall pick in '04).

    • Seven seasons (103 starts)
    • 156 TDs
    • 113 INTs
    • 22,646 yards
    • 58.0 completion percentage
    • 80.2 QB rating
    • One Pro Bowl selection
    • One-time Super Bowl winner
    • 4-3 record as playoff starter

    Notable first-rounders selected after Manning in the 2004 draft include: Robert Gallery, Reggie Williams, Michael Clayton, J.P. Losman, Chris Perry and Rashaun Woods.

4. Drew Bledsoe

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    With the first pick in the 1993 NFL Draft, the New England Patriots selected QB Drew Bledsoe, from Washington State.

    • 14 seasons (193 starts)
    • 251 TDs, 206 INTs
    • 44,611 yards
    • 57.2 completion percentage
    • 77.1 QB rating
    • Four Pro Bowl selections
    • 1-1 record in Super Bowl
    • 3-3 record as playoff starter

    Bledsoe lost Super Bowl XXXI to the Green Bay Packers. He served as Tom Brady's backup in a Super Bowl XXXVI win.

    Notable first-rounders selected after Bledsoe in the 1993 draft include: Rick Mier and Curtis Conway.

3. Orlando Pace

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    With the first pick in the 1997 NFL Draft, the St. Louis Rams selected T Orlando Pace, form Ohio State.

    • 13 seasons (165 starts)
    • Seven Pro Bowl selections
    • Three first-team All-Pro selections

    Pace started 154 consecutive games, and blocked for the NFL MVP in three straight seasons (Warner in 1999, Faulk in 2000, Warner in 2001).

    He missed all but one game in 2007 after undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery. Pace played just two seasons after the injury.

    One of the best left tackles of this generation, Pace is certainly Hall of Fame worthy.

    Notable first-rounders selected after Pace in the 1997 draft include: Darrell Russell, Shawn Springs and Tom Knight.

2. Troy Aikman

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    With the first pick in the 1989 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys selected QB Troy Aikman, from UCLA.

    • 12 seasons (165 starts)
    • 165 TDs, 141 INTs
    • 32,942 yards
    • 61.5 completion percentage
    • 81.6 QB rating
    • Six Pro Bowl selections
    • Three-time Super Bowl winner
    • Super Bowl XXVII MVP
    • 11-4 record as playoff starter

    Aikman's career numbers weren't particularly impressive, but the game he played in the 1990s is much different than the game played on the gridiron today. In the end, three Super Bowls is tough to beat. Unless you're the next guy...

    The 1989 draft was loaded. Four of the top five picks that year are now Hall of Famers: Aikman, Barry Sanders, Derrick Thomas and Deion Sanders.

1. Peyton Manning

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    With the first pick in the 1998 NFL Draft, the Indianapolis Colts selected QB Peyton Manning, from Tennessee.

    • 13 seasons (208 consecutive starts)
    • 399 TDs, 198 INTs
    • 54,828 yards
    • 64.9 completion percentage
    • 94.9 QB rating
    • 11 Pro Bowl selections
    • Five first-team All-Pro selections
    • 1-1 Super Bowl record
    • Super Bowl XLI MVP
    • 9-10 record as playoff starter

    Despite his sub-par playoff performance, Peyton Manning is one of the greatest QBs in NFL history, and is undoubtedly the best No. 1 overall pick of the last 25 years.

    Notable first-rounders selected after Manning in the 1998 draft include: Ryan Leaf, Andre Wadsworth and Curtis Enis.