NFL 1st Overall Picks List in History

The history of the NFL draft goes back to 1936, which gives us a ton of first overall picks to go over. You have some of the greats to go first like Peyton Manning and John Elway, and then you had busts like JaMarcus Russell and Tim Couch. Some players never even played a down for the team they were drafted by, demanding trades. We saw a flip with Eli Manning and Philip Rivers in 2004, which this was around a string of really good quarterback picks. Michael Vick, Alex Smith, and Carson Palmer were all right in this era. Over the last ten years we have seen teams really nail their first overall pick. Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, Eric Fisher, and Jadeveon Clowney have turned into strong first overall picks.

Contents

2021: Trevor Lawrence

Jacksonville Jaguars
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
Clemson21JuniorQB6'6220

2020: Joe Burrow

Cincinnati Bengals
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
LSU23SeniorQB6'3221

2019: Kyler Murray

Arizona Cardinals
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
Oklahoma21JuniorQB5'10207

2018: Baker Mayfield

Cleveland Browns
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
Oklahoma23SeniorQB6'1215 lbs

2017: Myles Garrett

Cleveland Browns
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
Texas A&M22JuniorDE6'4272 lbs

2016: Jared Goff

Los Angeles Rams
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
California21JuniorQB6'4222 lbs

2015: Jameis Winston

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
Florida State21Sophomore*QB6'4231 lbs

2014: Jadeveon Clowney

Houston Texans
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
South Carolina21JuniorDE6'5270 lbs

2013: Eric Fisher

Kansas City Chiefs
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
Central Michigan22SeniorOT6'7315 lbs

2012: Andrew Luck

Indianpolis Colts
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
Stanford23JuniorQB6'4240 lbs

2011: Cam Newton

Carolina Panthers
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
Auburn22JuniorQB6'5245 lbs

2010: Sam Bradford

St. Louis Rams
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
Oklahoma23JuniorQB6'4224 lbs

2009: Matthew Stafford

Detroit Lions
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
Georgia21JuniorQB6'3220 lbs

2008: Jake Long

Miami Dolphins
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
Michigan23SeniorOT6'7322 lbs

2007: JaMarcus Russell

Oakland Raiders
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
LSU22JuniorQB6'6260 lbs

2006: Mario Williams

Houston Texans
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
NC State21JuniorDE6'7300 lbs

2005: Alex Smith

San Francisco 49ers
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
Utah21JuniorQB6'4213 lbs

2004: Eli Manning

San Diego Chargers
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
Ole Miss23SeniorQB6'5218 lbs

2003: Carson Palmer

Cincinnati Bengals
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
USC24SeniorQB6'5235 lbs

2002: David Carr

Houston Texans
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
Fresno State23SeniorQB6'3212 lbs

2001: Michael Vick

Atlanta Falcons
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
Virginia Tech21Sophomore*QB6'0215 lbs

2000: Courtney Brown

Cleveland Browns
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
Penn State22SeniorDE6'5285 lbs

1999: Tim Couch

Cleveland Browns
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
Kentucky22JuniorQB6'4222 lbs

1998: Peyton Manning

Indianapolis Colts
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
Tennessee22SeniorQB6'5230 lbs

1997: Orlando Pace

St. Louis Rams
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
Ohio State22JuniorOT6'7324 lbs

1996: Keyshawn Johnson

New York Jets
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
USC23SeniorWR6'4212 lbs

1995: Ki-Jana Carter

Cincinnati Bengals
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
Penn State22JuniorRB5'10226 lbs

1994: Dan Wilkinson

Cincinnati Bengals
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
Ohio State21JuniorDT6'4340 lbs

1993: Drew Bledsoe

New England Patriots
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
Washington State21JuniorQB6'5238 lbs

1992: Steve Emtman

Indianapolis Colts
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
Washington22JuniorDE6'4293 lbs

1991: Russell Maryland

Dallas Cowboys
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
Miami22SeniorDT6'1308 lbs

1990: Jeff George

Indianapolis Colts
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
Illinois22JuniorQB6'4218 lbs

1989: Troy Aikman

Dallas Cowboys
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
UCLA22SeniorQB6'4221 lbs

1988: Aundray Bruce

Atlanta Falcons
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
Auburn22SeniorOLB6'5270 lbs

1987: Vinny Testaverde

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
Miami23SeniorQB6'5235 lbs

1986: Bo Jackson

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
Auburn23SeniorRB6'1227 lbs

1985: Bruce Smith

Buffalo Bills
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
Virginia Tech22JuniorDE6'4280 lbs

1984: Irving Fryar

New England Patriots
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
Nebraska22JuniorWR6'0200 lbs

1983: John Elway

Baltimore Colts
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
Stanford22SeniorQB6'3215 lbs

1982: Kenneth Sims

New England Patriots
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
Texas22SeniorDE6'5271 lbs

1981: George Rogers

New Orleans Saints
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
South Carolina22JuniorRB6'2228 lbs

1980: Billy Sims

Detroit Lions
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
Oklahoma24SeniorRB6'0212 lbs

1979: Tom Cousineau

Buffalo Bills
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
Ohio State22JuniorLB6'3225 lbs

1978: Earl Campbell

Houston Oilers
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
Texas23SeniorRB5'11232 lbs

1977: Ricky Bell

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
USC22SeniorRB6'2220 lbs

1976: Lee Roy Selmon

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
Oklahoma22SeniorDE6'3256 lbs

1975: Steve Bartkowski

Atlanta Falcons
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
California22SeniorQB6'4213 lbs

1974: Ed Jones

Dallas Cowboys
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
Tennessee State23SeniorDE6'9271 lbs

1973: John Matuszak

Houston Oilers
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
Tampa22SeniorDE6'8280 lbs

1972: Walt Patulski

Buffalo Bills
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
Notre Dame22JuniorDE6'6259 lbs

1971: Jim Plunkett

New England Patriots
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
Stanford23SeniorQB6'3220 lbs

1970: Terry Bradshaw

Pittsburgh Steelers
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
Louisiana Tech22SeniorQB6'3220 lbs

1969: O.J. Simpson

Buffalo Bills
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
USC22SeniorRB6'1210 lbs

1968: Ron Yary

Minnesota Vikings
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
USC22JuniorOT6'5255 lbs

1967: Bubba Smith

Baltimore Colts
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
Michigan State23JuniorDE6'7265 lbs

1966: Tommy Nobis

Atlanta Falcons
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
Texas22SeniorLB6'2240 lbs

1965: Tucker Frederickson

New York Giants
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
Auburn22SeniorRB6'2220 lbs

1964: Dave Parks

Sna Francisco 49ers
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
Texas Tech22SeniorWR6'2207 lbs

1963: Terry Baker

Los Angeles Rams
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
Oregon State22SeniorQB6'3200 lbs

1962: Ernie Davis

Washington Redskins
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
Syracuse22SeniorRB6'2212 lbs

1961: Tommy Mason

Minnesota Vikings
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
Tulane22SeniorRB6'1196 lbs

1960: Billy Cannon

Los Angeles Rams
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
LSU22SeniorHB6'1207 lbs

1959: Randy Duncan

Green Bay Packers
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
Iowa22SeniorQB6'0185 lbs

1958: King Hill

Chicago Cardinals
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
Rice22SeniorQB6'3212 lbs

1957: Paul Hornung

Green Bay Packers
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
Notre Dame22SeniorRB6'2215 lbs

1956: Gary Glick

Pittsburgh Steelers
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
Colorado State25SeniorS6'2195 lbs

1955: George Shaw

Baltimore Colts
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
Oregon22SeniorQB6'1183 lbs

1954: Bobby Garrett

Cleveland Browns
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
Stanford22SeniorQB6'1198 lbs

1953: Harry Babcock

San Francisco 49ers
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
Georgia22SeniorWR6'2193 lbs

1952: Bill Wade

Los Angeles Rams
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
Vanderbilt22SeniorQB6'2202 lbs

1951: Kyle Rote

New York Giants
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
SMU23SeniorRB/WR6'0199 lbs

1950: Leon Hart

Detroit Lions
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
Notre Dame22SeniorFB6'5257 lbs

1949: Chuck Bednarik

Philadelphia Eagles
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
Pennsylvania24SeniorLB6'3233 lbs

1948: Harry Gilmer

Washington Redskins
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
Alabama22SeniorQB/HB/DB6'0169 lbs

1947: Bob Fenimore

Chicago Bears
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
Oklahoma State22SeniorHB6'1190 lbs

1946: Frank Dancewicz

Boston Yanks
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
Notre Dame22SeniorQB5'10187 lbs

1945: Charley Trippi

Chicago Cardinals
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
Georgia23SeniorQB6'0186 lbs

1944: Angelo Bartelli

Boston Yanks
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
Notre Dame23SeniorQB6'1190 lbs

1943: Frank Sinkwich

Detroit Lions
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
Georgia22SeniorHB5'11190 lbs

1942: Bill Dudley

Pittsburgh Steelers
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
Michigan22SeniorHB6'1197 lbs

1941: Tom Harmon

Chicago Bears
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
Virginia22SeniorHB5'10182 lbs

1940: George Cafego

Chicago Cardinals
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
Tennessee24SeniorQB5'10169 lbs

1939: Ki Aldrich

Chicago Cardinals
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
TCU23SeniorC/LB6'0207 lbs

1938: Corbett Davis

Cleveland Rams
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
Indiana23SeniorFB5'11212 lbs

1937: Sam Francis

Philadelphia Eagles
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
Nebraska23SeniorHB6'0207 lbs

1936: Jay Berwanger

Philadelphia Eagles
SchoolAgeYearPositionHeightWeight
Chicago22SeniorHB6'1195 lbs

Biggest Busts

We have a long history of first overall picks in the NFL, which stretches back longer than most other sports. This leaves plenty of room for busts, and boy have we seen them. JaMarcus Russell seems to be the poster boy for draft busts over the last 20 years, as Oakland selected him first overall back in 2007. The Raiders have historically had some bad draft picks, but this was the worst. The greatest story that came out with this pick was that the Raiders gave him a blank DVD that they said was filled with plays and ideas for him to watch. Russell returned saying he was on board with everything he’d watched. He was out of the league by the time he was 25, and threw 23 interceptions in 25 career starts.

After a decorative college career, Tim Couch went number one in the 1999 draft to the Cleveland Browns. This started a reign of quarterback failures for Cleveland. Couch struggled with arm injuries, but only played five seasons in the NFL and never surpassed 20 passing touchdowns in a season. In 1979 the Buffalo Bills drafted Tom Cousineau, who decided to play in Canada instead. This was a brutal blow for Buffalo, but it did transition into the pick for Jim Kelly. Steve Emtman was a monster in college, playing defensive end at Washington. The Colts drafted him first overall in 1992, but he was injured each season he played. He retired before the age of 28, and only had eight sacks.

Best First Overall Picks

Peyton Manning is going to be the first name mentioned, and was the best to deliver out of the first overall spot. He had a long tenure in Indianapolis, leading them to a a Super Bowl and multiple winning seasons. He would go onto win another Super Bowl in Denver and is a future Hall of Famer. Bruce Smith went first overall in 1985. Smith ended up in the Hall of Fame and went down as one of the best defensive ends in history. He had 200 sacks and won the Defensive Player of the Year twice. There were a few hall of fame quarterbacks to go first overall. John Elway was drafted by the Baltimore Colts, but he refused to play for Baltimore and ended up being traded to the Denver Broncos. Terry Bradshaw won four Super Bowls with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Jason Guilbault has been writing and podcasting in the fantasy sports world for over five years. You can find his work at Daily Fantasy Cafe. He is an avid Tottenham fan, and follows the Boston sports teams. When he isn’t diving into stats, he is enjoying the outdoors or down at the local brewery.

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