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The 10 Best NFL Number 1 Draft Picks Of All Time

Throughout history there has been much in the way of amazing football players, the NFL has seen legend after legend through the ropes. Most of us automatically think of quarterbacks when we consider the best players and best draft picks…

We are wrong. 

Sure, some of the best draft picks are quarterbacks, but they are not the only players to come out of the draft that were smoking hot with skill. 

So, while you keep your eyes peeled on the NFL draft betting odds, we will tell you all about the top number one draft picks in history.

What Makes For A Top Draft Pick?

In our list we are talking about the 1st pick of the draft players that made it to high rankings, whose fame lived on, and whose careers were outstanding.

Players that left us in shock and awe after watching them on the field. 

Sometimes it is like the teams knew what they were getting when they made these picks, and that is why they made them the first picks.

Our Top 10! 

So, let’s get to our top ten. The list we compiled of the top 10 best NFL 1st pick players in the history of the league!

  1. Peyton Manning

Peyton Manning has to top this list of course, he was a quarterback and was picked out by the Indianapolis Colts in 1998. 

He is not only one of the best quarterbacks to grace the field, but he still remains top of the charts in many stats – especially passing. Okay, he might not match some of Brady’s stats, but Brady wasn’t a first pick, and Manning was. 

Manning threw a meager 28 interceptions when he was only a rookie, but as his debut continued he picked up his game and made it even better! 

He was a pro bowler, and ended his career with a golden total of 5 MVP titles. 

  1. Bruce Smith

Behind Manning is Bruce Smith, who was a defensive end drafted by the Buffalo Bills in 1985. 

He deserves this ranking as the sack king of the NFL. He gave a solid 15 seasons of Hall of Fame titles for the Bills. 

In fact, the Bills were questioned on their pick of him, but since he landed 200 sacks, those who questioned the Bills are probably feeling a bit silly now. 

  1. John Elway

Another quarterback, John Elway, drafted by the Baltimore Colts in ‘83. Sure you could say he belongs higher up, because he was a genuine legend of the game. 

However, he refused to play for the Colts and in 83 he was traded to the Broncos for Hinton. Sucks for the Colts as Elway ended up starting for 5 Super Bowls with the Broncos, and with 2 Super Bowl titles by the time his career ended, he was definitely a legend.

  1. Terry Bradshaw

Going a bit further back in time, we can’t forget Terry Bradshaw, quarterback for the Steelers in 1970. He is still one of the few quarterbacks to take home 4 Super Bowl titles. 

The Steelers really benefited from him, and their investment in him in the draft ended up a great idea as he was given a place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame the first year he was eligible. 

  1. Troy Aikman

Troy Aikman, quarterback for the Cowboys in 1989. He started his career with just under a dozen  losses, however, he perked up and won three Super Bowls in quite the turnaround! Impressive! 

  1. O. J. Simpson

Let’s not ignore O.J. Simpson, the running back for the Bills in 1969. He didn’t really hit his golden marker until Saban took over coaching in ‘72, but nonetheless he led the league in rushing for ⅘ seasons. 

His career high 2,003 yards was hit in 1973. It is a shame his legacy got so tainted.

  1. Earl Campbell

Campbell was a running back, drafted by the Oilers in 1978. He was the best power back in the NFL, simply pummeling his way through the NFL. 

He led by 1,450 yards as just a rookie, and in his second year he added another 200 yards to that number, and another 300 the year after that! 

Quite the number, even more impressive when you remember he did that by literally just… running through people, plowing through them, knocking them over. Quite the tank!

  1. Eli Manning

His brother is here and so is he. Eli Manning didn’t want to play for San Diego, but he was part of the draft with the Giants. He didn’t succeed but no one expected him to compete for the Chargers. He surprised us all there, and in his performance. 

Like his brother, he was quite the legend.

  1. Orlando Pace

Pace was drafted by the Rams in 1997 as an offensive tackle. 

He was the best player for the ‘Greatest Show On Turf’,  He made 7 Pro Bowls in a row! 

  1. Cam Newton

Newton was drafted as a quarterback by the Panthers in 2011, his 2018 campaign was disappointing, however, in 2019 he ran the ball like crazy and spurred up some crazy numbers. He didn’t shy away from contact, he might be higher up the list though, if he was more consistent.

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Priyanka Chaudhary
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