The NFL Draft is the most exciting part of the offseason where the fans are introduced to new athletes who would later go on to become the legends of the game. All the all-time greats have come through the draft, including the GOAT Tom Brady and the MVP winner Patrick Mahomes.
From the very beginning of the NFL Draft, the number one overall pick has been a highly sought-after and coveted position. The players chosen with this prestigious selection are expected to be franchise-changing talents who can elevate their respective teams to new heights.
With the 2023 edition of the NFL draft just around the corner. There are expected to be many new players who will define the generation and probably go on to win many trophies with their respective teams. In that essence, take a look at the top 10 best No.1 draft picks in NFL history.
On the 10th position, we have Cam Newton who was drafted in 2011 by the Carolina Panthers. Newton was named the NFL’s MVP in 2015 and led the Panthers to a Super Bowl appearance. He has been named to three Pro Bowls throughout his career and currently is a free agent who is looking for his next team.
The 33-year-old QB was also present at the NFL Pro day where he showcased his exceptional skills. Newton’s athleticism and versatility makes him a dual-threat quarterback, able to make plays with his arm and his legs. He holds the NFL record for most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback.
9. O.J. Simpson
O. J. Simpson, drafted by the Buffalo Bills in 1969, is on the No.9 spot on our list. Simpson was a dominant running back who was a six-time Pro Bowler and the first player in NFL history to rush for over 2,000 yards in a single season.
Simpson is one of the most controversial and infamous figures in American sports history. Simpson also played for the San Francisco 49ers during his career and was widely regarded as one of the best running backs of his era.
His career highlights include six Pro Bowl selections, four First-Team All-Pro selections, and a record-breaking 2,003-yard rushing season in 1973. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985.
8. Mario Williams
Mario Williams, drafted by the Houston Texans in 2006, was a dominant pass rusher who recorded 97.5 sacks during his career. He was named to three Pro Bowls and was one of the most feared defensive players in the league during his prime.
Despite his success on the field, Williams’ career was also marked by injuries that limited his playing time in some seasons. He announced his retirement from the NFL in 2017, finishing his career with 97.5 sacks and a reputation as one of the most dominant pass rushers of his era.
7. Orlando Pace
Orlando Pace was drafted first overall by the Rams in the 1997 NFL Draft and quickly established himself as a dominant force on the team’s OT line. He helped lead the Rams to a Super Bowl victory in 1999 and was named to seven Pro Bowls and three First-Team All-Pro selections during his 13-year career.
Pace’s skill and consistency earned him a reputation as one of the best left tackles in NFL history. He was a key part of the Rams’ high-powered offense in the early 2000s.
6. Earl Campbell
Drafted in 1978 by the Houston Oilers, Earl Campbell was a dominant running back who led the league in rushing three times. He was named the NFL’s Offensive Player of the Year three times and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1991. Campbell was known for his powerful running style and his ability to break tackles.
Campbell’s career highlights include three Pro Bowl selections, three First-Team All-Pro selections, and a rushing title in 1980. He was also named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team for the 1970s. He has also been recognized for his contributions to the sport of football, including being named to the Texas Sports Hall of Fame and having his jersey number retired by the University of Texas.
5. Bruce Smith
Bruce Smith, drafted by the Buffalo Bills in 1985, is the NFL’s all-time leader in sacks with 200. He was named the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year twice and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2009.
Smith was known for his combination of size, speed, and strength, which made him virtually unstoppable on the defensive line. He recorded 10 or more sacks in 13 seasons, setting an NFL record for career sacks with 200, which still stands to this day. He was named to 11 Pro Bowls and was a six-time First-Team All Pro.
4. Troy Aikman
Troy Aikman is a former NFL quarterback who only played for the Dallas Cowboys during his career, after 1989’s NFL Draft. Aikman was known for his accuracy, leadership, and intelligence on the field, and he helped lead the Cowboys to three Super Bowl championships in the 1990s.
Over the course of his career, Aikman threw for 32,942 yards and 165 touchdowns, with a career passer rating of 81.6. He was named to six Pro Bowls and was the MVP of Super Bowl XXVII, where he threw for 273 yards and four touchdowns in an eccentric win over the Buffalo Bills.
3. Terry Bradshaw
Terry Bradshaw was drafted first overall by the Steelers in the 1970 NFL Draft and quickly established himself as the team’s starting quarterback. He had an up-and-down start to his career but developed into a dominant player over time, leading the Steelers to their first Super Bowl victory in 1975.
Bradshaw’s leadership and success on the field helped cement his status as one of the greatest quarterbacks in Steelers history and one of the best quarterbacks of his era. After retiring from football, he became a successful television personality and is widely regarded as one of the most entertaining figures in NFL media.
2. John Elway
The runner-up is John Elway, who was drafted in 1983 by the Colts. Elway is considered one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game, having won two Super Bowls with the Denver Broncos and being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2004.
Elway was known for his clutch performances in big games and his incredible arm strength. Elway was drafted first overall by the Colts in the 1983 NFL Draft but refused to play for the team, forcing a trade to the Broncos. He quickly established himself as the team’s starting quarterback and went on to have a long and successful career in Denver.
1. Peyton Manning
The first on our list is Peyton Manning, who was selected by the Indianapolis Colts in 1998. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, having won two Super Bowls and been named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player five times.
Manning also holds numerous NFL records, including the most career passing yards and touchdown passes. Manning was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1976, and he grew up in a football family. His father, Archie Manning, was a star quarterback at Ole Miss and played in the NFL for 14 seasons, and his younger brother, Eli Manning, also became an NFL quarterback.
Manning was known for his exceptional talent, work ethic, and leadership on the field. He was a master of reading defenses. He retired in 2016 as the NFL’s all-time leader in career passing yards and career touchdown passes, among other records.
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