Rating each No. 1 NFL Draft decide of twenty first century: This is how Alex Smith, Eli Manning and others stack up


There have been 10 former No. 1 total NFL draft picks nonetheless enjoying as of Sunday, April 18. However that quantity fell to single digits after Alex Smith introduced his retirement lower than two weeks earlier than this yr’s draft. The No. 1 total decide within the 2005 draft, Smith hangs up his cleats simply months after successful Comeback Participant of the 12 months.  

Whereas his profession seemingly falls wanting Canton, Smith put collectively a formidable profession that rivals lots of the No. 1 total picks over the previous century. With that in thoughts, we have determined to the 21 No. 1 total picks chosen between 2000-20. The principle standards for this listing is profession accomplishments and the way good the participant in the end turned on the NFL degree. That is why among the newer No. 1 picks are additional again on this listing. 

With out additional ado, let’s get began. 

Getty Photos

21. QB JaMarcus Russell

Russell was the No. 1 total decide within the 2007 draft after main the LSU Tigers to an 11-2 document that included a blowout victory over Notre Dame within the Sugar Bowl. Russell loved a memorable junior season in Baton Rouge, finishing 67.8% of his passes with 28 touchdowns and simply eight interceptions. 

After spending most of his rookie season on the bench, Russell accomplished lower than 54% of his passes in 2008, because the Raiders went simply 5-10 with Russell as their starter. Russell utterly bottomed out the next season, finishing simply 48.8% p.c of his passes with three touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 9 begins. Russell, who was launched by the workforce throughout the ensuing offseason, has not performed skilled soccer since 2009 after unsuccessful comeback bids in 2013 and in 2016. He’s arguably the most important bust in NFL draft historical past. 

20. Joe Burrow

Search for Burrow to soar up this listing over the course of his profession. The No. 1 total decide in final yr’s draft, Burrow led the NFL in passing earlier than struggling a season-ending damage 10 video games into the season. Regardless of enjoying with a patchwork offensive line, Burrow managed to finish 65.3% of his passes for two,688 yards and 13 touchdowns with 5 interceptions previous to his damage.

Whereas he gained simply two of his begins as a rookie, Burrow accomplished over 70% of his throws on three separate events. In two video games towards the Browns, Burrow threw for 722 yards with six touchdowns towards only one interception. 

19. DE Courtney Brown 

The Browns‘ second No. 1 total decide in as a few years after taking Tim Sofa in 1999, Brown, the primary decide within the 2000 draft, was a part of a proficient protection at Penn State that included linebacker LaVar Arrington, a three-time Professional Bowler with the Redskins who was chosen instantly after Brown. Not like Arrington, Brown by no means blossomed right into a Professional Bowl degree participant, recording simply 19 sacks in 61 profession video games. 

Accidents plagued Brown all through his profession. After an honest rookie marketing campaign, Brown tallied 4.5 sacks 5 video games into his second season earlier than sustaining a season-ending damage. Whereas he rebounded to submit strong numbers in 2002 and in 2003 (recording a career-high six sacks in 2003, a yr after serving to the Browns safe their solely playoff berth since returning to the NFL in 1999), accidents in the end ended Brown’s profession after only one season with the Broncos in 2005. 

Getty Photos

18. QB Kyler Murray 

As a rookie, Murray accomplished 64.4% of his passes with 20 touchdowns and 12 picks. The 2019 Offensive Rookie of the 12 months, Murray additionally completed because the Cardinals‘ second main rusher that season with 4 touchdowns whereas averaging 5.8 yards per carry. 

Murray was even higher in 2020. In 16 video games, Murray accomplished over 67% of his passes with 26 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He additionally rushed for 11 touchdowns whereas averaging 6.2 yards per carry, becoming a member of Cam Newton and Kordell Stewart as the one quarterbacks in league historical past to throw for no less than 20 landing and run for no less than 10 in the identical season. Murray is hoping to guide Arizona to its first playoff berth since 2015 in 2021. 

17. QB Baker Mayfield 

Like Murray, Mayfield is a former Heisman Trophy winner and Offensive Rookie of the 12 months recipient. Mayfield loved the most effective seasons by a rookie quarterback in league historical past in 2018, finishing almost 64% of his passes with 27 landing passes whereas main the Browns — a workforce that gained only one sport throughout the earlier two seasons — to 6 wins in 13 begins. 

Mayfield endured a rocky 2019 season that noticed him throw almost as many interceptions (21) as landing passes (22) whereas failing to finish 60% of his throws. Mayfield bounced again with gusto in 2020; he led the Browns to an 11-5 common season document earlier than throwing three landing passes in Cleveland’s wild-card win over the Steelers

16. QB David Carr 

The Texans‘ first-ever draft decide, Carr was the NFL’s most-sacked quarterback in three of his first 4 NFL seasons. Whereas Houston’s lack of ability to guard him hindered his development, Carr finally developed into an honest beginning NFL quarterback. In his third season, Carr accomplished over 60% of his passes for the primary time whereas serving to lead the Texans to a 7-9 document. Two years later, he led the NFL by finishing 68.8% of his passes. Carr’s play considerably improved after the Texans drafted receiver Andre Johnson within the first spherical of the 2003 draft. Johnson, the most effective receivers of his period, earned his first two Professional Bowl choices with Carr as his quarterback. 

After compiling a 22-53 document throughout his 5 seasons in Houston, Carr obtained simply 4 begins throughout the last six years of his profession. Carr, who spent one season in Carolina and one other in San Francisco, gained a Tremendous Bowl ring as Eli Manning’s backup on the finish of the 2011 season. He retired with 65 touchdowns, 71 interceptions and a 23-56 document as a starter. 

15. DE Myles Garrett 

Garrett is effectively on his technique to shifting up this listing after racking up 42.5 sacks in his first 51 video games with the Browns. Garrett earned Professional Bowl honors in 2018 after recording 13.5 sacks, three compelled fumbles and 12 tackles for loss. Garrett seemingly would have earned one other Professional Bowl choice in 2019 earlier than he was suspended for the ultimate six video games of the season. Regardless of showing in simply 10 video games, Garrett completed the 2019 season with 10 sacks, two compelled fumbles and 11 tackles for loss. 

The 2020 season solidified Garrett’s standing as one of many NFL’s premier go rushers. In 14 video games, Garrett recorded 14 sacks together with 4 compelled fumbles. Garrett’s play helped the Browns win their first playoff sport since 1994. 

Getty Photos

14. QB Sam Bradford 

Whereas he by no means developed right into a franchise quarterback, Bradford, the 2008 Heisman Trophy winner, put collectively a strong nine-year profession that included main the NFL by finishing 71.6% of his passes in 2016. That season proved to be Bradford’s greatest within the NFL. In 15 video games, Bradford threw for a career-high 3,877 yards with 20 touchdowns towards simply 5 interceptions.

Bradford had 4 totally different seasons that noticed him win no less than seven video games as a starter. Throughout these seasons, Bradford, who led seven comebacks and eight game-winning drives throughout his profession, averaged 3,706 yards passing with 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions whereas finishing 63.9% of his passes. Bradford struggled to remain wholesome, as he sustained a number of severe accidents that included two accidents to the identical ACL. 

13. DE Jadeveon Clowney

Clowney just lately determined to hitch forces with Garrett in Cleveland. After accidents worn out most of his rookie season, Clowney bounced again in 2015, recording 4.5 sacks and eight tackles for loss in 13 video games (9 begins). Clowney earned the primary of three consecutive Professional Bowl choices in 2016 whereas turning into an everyday starter on the Texans’ protection. Throughout that span, Clowney averaged simply over eight sacks, 53 tackles and 18 tackles per loss per season. He additionally compelled 4 fumbles whereas recovering six compelled fumbles. 

Clowney put up strong numbers throughout his solely season in Seattle in 2019. Whereas his three sacks have been his lowest complete in a season since his rookie yr, Clowney posted a career-high 4 compelled fumbles whereas returning one among his two fumble recoveries for a landing. He additionally returned his first profession interception for a landing. Clowney did little throughout his lone season in Tennessee, making simply 19 tackles (and recording zero sacks) in eight video games. 

Getty Photos

12. QB Jameis Winston

Two years after main Florida State to a nationwide championship, Winston was named to the Professional Bowl as a rookie, throwing for over 4,000 yards and 22 touchdowns for the Buccaneers that season. Winston did not seem to enhance a lot after his rookie season, nonetheless, as he at present carries a profession completion share of simply 61.3%. He has additionally thrown 88 profession interceptions in 4 seasons that features a league-high 30 in 2019. Winston additionally led the NFL in passing yards final season, as his 5,109 yards is the eighth highest complete in league historical past. 

The 27-year-old Winston, who was launched final season by the Buccaneers in favor of future Corridor of Fame quarterback Tom Brady, is making ready to spend a second consecutive season in New Orleans. 

12. OT Eric Fisher 

Whereas he has just one Professional Bowl nods to his credit score, Fisher has been one of many higher offensive tackles in soccer after becoming a member of the Chiefs in 2013. The Chiefs’ beginning left sort out since 2014, Fisher has began in 113 in 117 of his profession video games. A starter on Kansas Metropolis’s 2019 championship workforce, Fisher has helped present sturdy safety for quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who has blossomed into arguably the NFL’s greatest participant. 

A primary-time Professional Bowler in 2016, Fisher earned Professional Bowl honors once more final season earlier than struggling a torn Achilles damage throughout final yr’s AFC title sport. With out Fisher, the Chiefs didn’t correctly shield Mahomes throughout the Chiefs’ 31-9 loss to the Buccaneers in Tremendous Bowl LV. 

10. OT Jake Lengthy 

The previous Michigan All-American made an instantaneous influence in Miami. The No. 1 total decide within the 2008 draft, Lengthy was an instantaneous starter at left sort out for the Dolphins. As a rookie, Lengthy helped the Dolphins seize the AFC East division title whereas serving to anchor Miami’s “Wildcat” offense that includes Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. Lengthy’s safety additionally helped quarterback Chad Pennington win his second Comeback Participant of the 12 months award. An All-Professional in 2010, Lengthy was named to the Professional Bowl in every of his first 4 seasons. 

Lengthy’s profession took an unlucky flip close to the tip of the 2011 season, when his streak of 61 consecutive video games performed ended after struggling a again damage. Lengthy would battle by accidents for the rest of his profession, showing in simply 15 video games throughout his last three seasons. He determined to hold up his cleats for good on the finish of the 2016 season following temporary stints with the Rams, Falcons and Vikings

9. QB Jared Goff 

Goff has developed into a high quality franchise quarterback for a perennially contending workforce. After enduing a rocky rookie season that noticed him fail to win any of his seven begins, Goff flourished Sean McVay, who joined the Rams previous to Goff’s second season. Throughout his second and third seasons, Goff accomplished almost 64% of his passes whereas averaging 4,246 passing yards per season. He additionally threw 60 touchdowns towards simply 19 interceptions whereas posting a 26-9 document as a starter. Goff’s efficiency throughout the 2018 playoffs helped the Rams advance to Tremendous Bowl LIII, the place they managed to attain simply three factors in a loss to the Patriots

Regardless of serving to lead the Rams to the playoffs in 2020, Los Angeles traded Goff to the Lions (in alternate for Stafford and several other draft picks) this offseason. How effectively Goff does in his new environment will decide if Goff can transfer additional up this listing. 

Getty Photos

8. DE Mario Williams 

The third former Texans participant on this listing, Williams’ profession was higher than most individuals keep in mind. After an underwhelming rookie season, Williams tallied 14 sacks and 14 tackles for loss throughout his second season. A Professional Bowl snub that yr, Williams was chosen to the Professional Bowl throughout the subsequent two seasons whereas turning into one of many NFL’s greatest go rushers. 

After six principally productive seasons in Houston, Williams was even higher throughout his 4 seasons with the Payments. Throughout that span, Williams recorded 43 sacks, 53 tackles for loss, and 5 compelled fumbles. A two-time Professional Bowler throughout his time with the Payments, Williams’ greatest season was in 2014, when he earned All-Professional honors after setting profession highs with 14.5 sacks and 19 tackles for loss. Williams, who retired after one season with the Dolphins, completed his 11-year profession with 97.5 sacks, 121 tackles for loss, and 16 compelled fumbles.  

7. QB Matthew Stafford 

Stafford will might very effectively transfer into the top-five by the point his profession is over. The longtime Lion who was traded to the Rams this offseason, Stafford is at present sixteenth all-time in profession passing yards and passing touchdowns. And whereas his sub .500 document as a starter leaves one thing to be desired, Stafford could have probability to play for a perennial winner in Los Angeles. 

Whereas he’s typically neglected by the opposite nice quarterbacks of this period, Stafford has loved a prolific run in Detroit. A Professional Bowler in 2014, Stafford averaged 4,466 passing yards and 27 landing passes per season from 2011-18. He did not miss a single begin throughout that stretch whereas serving to the Lions advance to the postseason in 2011, 2014 and in 2016. 

6. QB Alex Smith 

Had he come round 20 years earlier, Smith’s greatest five-year output would have made him a perennial All-Professional. That being mentioned, Smith nonetheless managed to earn three Professional Bowl choices throughout that span. He has additionally gained a formidable 99 common season video games as a beginning quarterback. 

Throughout his 5 seasons with the Chiefs, Smith, who helped lead the 49ers to an NFC Championship Sport look in 2011, averaged 3,522 passing yards, 20 touchdowns and 7 interceptions per season whereas finishing 65.1% of his passes. Smith’s greatest season was in 2017, when he accomplished 67.5% of his passes for 4,042 yards with 26 touchdowns towards simply 5 interceptions. In 2015, he led the Chiefs to their first postseason victory since 1993. That win, nonetheless, is generally overshadowed by the Chiefs three one and accomplished postseasons with Smith beneath middle. 

In 2018, Smith led Washington to 6 wins in its first 10 video games earlier than breaking his leg. Final season, Smith led Washington to the playoffs, the workforce third Smith quarterbacked to the postseason. Smith additionally handed Corridor of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly for twenty seventh all-time on the NFL profession passing listing. Smith’s 86.9 profession passer ranking is tied for the thirty fifth highest complete in league historical past. 

Getty Photos

5. QB Michael Vick 

Had his profession not been interrupted by a two-year jail sentence for his function in a canine combating ring, Vick seemingly would have completed even increased on this listing. However, what Vick was capable of do in Atlanta, alongside together with his second wave of success in Philadelphia, bought him the fifth spot. 

One of the thrilling (and standard) gamers in league historical past, Vick supplied a much-needed shot within the arm for a Falcons franchise that gained simply 16 video games the earlier three seasons earlier than Vick turned the beginning quarterback in 2002, his second season in Atlanta. That yr, Vick earned Professional Bowl honors whereas main the Falcons to the playoffs. Within the wild card spherical, Vick did one thing no different NFL quarterback had been capable of do to that time: beat Brett Favre and the Packers at Lambeau Subject within the playoffs. Vick, after lacking a lot of the 2003 season with an damage, led the Falcons to the NFC Championship Sport in 2004. Two years later, Vick turned the primary quarterback in league historical past to run for over 1,000 yards in a season. His 6,109 profession dashing yards are probably the most in league historical past for a quarterback. 

After two seasons away from soccer, Vick served as Donavan McNabb’s backup in Philadelphia in 2009. In 2010, an damage to starter Kevin Kolb propelled Vick again into the beginning lineup. That yr, Vick loved his best season as a passer, finishing a career-best 62.6% of his passes with 21 touchdowns and simply six interceptions whereas main the Eagles to the NFC East division title. The pounding he endured all through his profession finally caught as much as Vick, nonetheless, as he missed greater than half of the 2013 season with an damage. He spent his last two seasons as a backup in New York and Pittsburgh. 

4. QB Andrew Luck 

Luck would have seemingly cracked the highest three of this listing if not for accidents and his resolution to name it quits at simply 29 years previous. Peyton Manning’s inheritor obvious in Indianapolis, Luck definitely performed like a franchise quarterback, as he was chosen to the Professional Bowl in every of his first three seasons. Luck additionally guided the Colts to a few consecutive 11-5 common seasons that included a visit to the AFC Championship Sport in 2014. That season, Luck led the NFL with 40 landing passes whereas throwing for a career-high 4,761 yards. 

After lacking half of the 2015 season and all the 2017 season with accidents, Luck gained Comeback Participant of the 12 months honors in 2018 whereas main the Colts again into the postseason. Whereas Luck proved that would nonetheless play at a excessive degree (he earned his fourth Professional Bowl nod that season), he was not prepared to proceed enjoying by damage, thus deciding to name it a profession simply earlier than the beginning of the 2019 season. In 94 profession video games, Luck threw 183 landing passes (towards 96 interceptions) whereas compiling a 55-33 common season document and a 4-4 postseason document. He joined an illustrious listing of former NFL gamers who selected early retirement. 

When deciding who to select between Luck and Vick, it got here down two one issue. If I needed to decide one participant to observe, I am choosing Vick. He was some of the thrilling gamers in league historical past. But when I am choosing somebody to quarterback my workforce in a must-win sport, I am choosing Luck, who was a significantly extra correct passer who had simply the correct quantity of mobility to make performs exterior the pocket. He was additionally a particularly pushed participant who had the respect of his huddle, one thing that was typically neglected throughout his time in Indianapolis. 

3. QB Carson Palmer 

The 2002 Heisman Trophy winner, Palmer took a Bengals workforce that went 2-14 the season earlier than his arrival and helped helped cause them to an AFC North division title in 2005, his second season as a beginning quarterback. That season, Palmer led the NFL in landing passes (32) and completion share (67.8%). Sadly for Palmer, the Bengals’ season led to intestine wrenching vogue after he suffered a career-threatening knee damage on Cincinnati’s first offensive play in its eventual loss to Pittsburgh within the wild card spherical. 

Whereas Palmer returned to play at a Professional Bowl degree in 2006, issues have been by no means the identical throughout his time in Cincinnati. Regardless of main the Bengals again to the postseason in 2009, Palmer (who had philosophical points with Bengals proprietor Mike Brown because it associated to how a lot he was financially investing within the workforce’s success) determined to retire as an alternative of returning to Cincinnati for the 2011 season. Palmer ended his temporary retirement later that yr, spending two principally forgettable seasons in Oakland earlier than signing with the Cardinals throughout the 2013 offseason. 

Palmer loved a profession rebirth in Arizona. Teamed with head coach Bruce Arians and future Corridor of Fame receiver Larry Fitzgerald, Palmer posted a 38-21-1 document as a starter throughout his 5 seasons within the desert. In 2015, the 36-year-old Palmer loved the very best yr of his profession, as he accomplished 63.7% of his passes for 4,671 yards and 35 touchdowns with simply 11 interceptions whereas main the Cardinals to the NFC title sport. Palmer, who was inducted into the Cardinals’ Ring of Honor in 2019, is thirteenth all-time in profession landing passes and 14th all-time in profession passing yards. 

2. QB Cam Newton 

Newton’s 2015 MVP and total mastery throughout the Panthers‘ 17-1 document coming into Tremendous Bowl 50 are the principle explanation why he’s ranked one spot forward of Palmer. The 2010 Heisman Trophy winner and nationwide champion quarterback, Newton earned Professional Bowl and Offensive Rookie of the 12 months honors in 2011. That season, Newton, who used his passing and working means to assist lead the Panthers to a few consecutive NFC South division titles, led the NFL with a 5.6 yards per carry common. His 14 dashing landing that season is probably the most ever by a quarterback. 

A 3-time Professional Bowler, Newton earned All-Professional honors in 2015 after throwing a career-high 35 touchdowns towards simply 10 interceptions. Newton additionally set NFL historical past that season, turning into the primary participant in league historical past to throw for 35 touchdowns and run for 10 extra scores in the identical season. Newton and his teammates hit a pace bump within the Tremendous Bowl, nonetheless, because the Panthers have been upset by sport MVP Von Miller and the Broncos, 21-10. It was not one among Newton’s higher performances, as he misplaced two fumbles whereas finishing simply 18 of his 41 go makes an attempt. 

Like Vick, the pounding Newton has enduring as a cell quarterback seems to have taken its toll, as Newton stays on the open market after an damage worn out most of his 2019 season. Whereas he continues to be in pursuit of his subsequent NFL residence, Newton has already put up strong profession numbers. His 70 profession dashing touchdowns is probably the most by a quarterback, whereas his 5,398 profession dashing yards is the second-highest complete for a quarterback. He’s additionally simply eight landing passes shy of 200 for his profession. Newton can be one among simply 49 quarterbacks with no less than 30,000 profession passing yards. 

Getty Photos

1. QB Eli Manning 

The primary total decide within the 2004 draft, Manning retired after the 2019 season with 125 profession wins and two Tremendous Bowl MVP awards beneath his belt. A four-time Professional Bowler, Manning is seventh all-time in each profession passing yards and landing passes. His 210 consecutive begins is the third-highest complete in league historical past

Manning’s legacy as an all-time nice participant is sophisticated. Whereas he did creator one of many biggest upsets in skilled sports activities historical past, Manning additionally led the league in interceptions 3 times, barely accomplished over 60% of his passes and recorded an underwhelming 117-117 common season document. That being mentioned, Manning did submit a formidable 8-4 postseason document that included two Tremendous Bowl wins over the Patriots. To get there, Manning and the Giants defeated Tony Romo and the Cowboys within the 2007 divisional spherical, Brett Favre and the Packers within the ’07 NFC title sport, Aaron Rodgers and the remainder of the 15-1 Packers within the divisional spherical of the 2011 playoffs, and Alex Smith and the 49ers within the ’11 NFC Championship Sport. 

When requested about his youthful brother’s legacy, Peyton Manning, who will earn induction into the Corridor of Fame this summer time, summed it up greatest

“While you’re the Tremendous Bowl MVP twice towards the best dynasty of all-time, the New England Patriots, Tom Brady/Invoice Belichick, and also you be a part of an inventory that features Terry Bradshaw, Bart Starr, Tom Brady and Joe Montana, Eli Manning as the one (a number of) Tremendous Bowl MVPs. I do not actually know what that time period, ‘drop the mic’ is, however I suppose if there was one. … There actually is not any ‘yeah, however’ after that. That type of ends it. However in order for you a, ‘yeah, however,’ yeah, however he additionally began 220-plus consecutive video games. He is sixth or seventh all-time in touchdowns. It wasn’t like he simply performed these two seasons.

“He answered the bell, performed his butt off, gained some big video games for his workforce.” 



Leave a Reply