Top 10 Heisman Trophy Winners with the Best NFL Careers

This is a list of the Heisman Trophy winners who had great careers in the NFL.
The Top Ten
1 Barry Sanders Barry Sanders is a former American football running back who spent his entire professional career with the Detroit Lions of the National Football League.

Barry Sanders won the Heisman Trophy in 1988 while playing for Oklahoma State University, scoring a record 37 touchdowns on 2,628 yards in 11 games. In the NFL, he was a 10-time Pro Bowler, MVP, four-time rushing champion, and was Rookie of the Year in 1989.

He also joined the exclusive 2000-rushing yard club in 1997. While his career never saw a Super Bowl and ended with an early retirement in 1999, Sanders is sometimes regarded as the best running back in NFL history.

2 Roger Staubach Roger Thomas Staubach, nicknamed Captain America and Captain Comeback, is a former American football quarterback in the National Football League.

Winning the award in 1963 at the Naval Academy, Staubach became an American icon as quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys from 1969-1979. In that span, he led Dallas to five NFC titles and two Super Bowl titles, with one Super Bowl MVP to his name.

He earned six Pro Bowls, four NFL passer rating titles, and was the passing leader in 1973. Perhaps he was best known as the man who coined the phrase "Hail Mary" following a game-winning touchdown pass to Drew Pearson in 1975.

3 Doak Walker

Doak Walker won the award in 1948 while a member of SMU. Drafted by the Lions, he helped lead Detroit to two NFL championships in the 1950s (before the Super Bowl era) and earned four First-Team All-Pro nods.

4 Lamar Jackson

Winning the trophy in 2016 while at Louisville, Jackson's career has blossomed into one that has already garnered him MVP honors. In 2019, he set a quarterback record for most rushing yards in a season while being the passing touchdown leader and earning the first of two Pro Bowl honors.

Although he has yet to have playoff success, Jackson seems to have refined his game to become one of the most elite quarterbacks in the NFL.

5 OJ Simpson Orenthal James Simpson (July 9, 1947 - April 10, 2024), nicknamed "The Juice", was an American football running back, broadcaster, actor, advertising spokesman, and convicted felon. Once a popular figure with the U.S. public, he is best known for being tried for the murders of his former wife, Nicole... read more

OJ Simpson won the award with USC in 1968. Drafted by the Bills, he won the MVP award in 1973 after becoming the first running back to rush for 2,000 yards in a season. He was the rushing leader in four seasons and would make five Pro Bowls.

As great as OJ was on the field, he is probably best remembered for what he did off the field, both good and bad.

6 Marcus Allen

Like Simpson, Allen also won the Heisman Trophy as a USC running back in 1981. He became the NFL's Rookie of the Year in 1982 and led the Los Angeles Raiders to a Super Bowl victory in 1983, where he rushed for a 74-yard touchdown run (the longest in the Super Bowl at the time).

Allen was an MVP, Offensive Player of the Year, Comeback Player of the Year, and is third all-time in rushing touchdowns.

7 Charles Woodson Charles Woodson is a former American football cornerback and free safety. He played college football for Michigan, where he led the Wolverines to a national championship in 1997. Woodson, a "two-way player" who played both offense and defense, won the Heisman Trophy in the same year, becoming the second,... read more

By winning the Heisman Trophy in 1997 over future Hall of Famers Peyton Manning and Randy Moss, Woodson became the first and only primarily defensive player to win the honor. He helped Michigan to a national championship that season.

In the NFL, he was a 9-time Pro Bowler who led the league in interceptions twice, earning both Defensive Rookie of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year honors. A Super Bowl champion with the Packers, Woodson is best known for his time with the Raiders.

8 Tony Dorsett

A 1976 Heisman Trophy winner and national champion at Pitt, Dorsett became the NFL Rookie of the Year in 1977 with the Cowboys, despite starting in only four of the Cowboys' 14 games. He also contributed to their Super Bowl victory and held the Cowboys' rookie rushing record of 1,007 yards until Ezekiel Elliott broke the mark in 2016.

Dorsett was a 4-time Pro Bowler, 3-time All-Pro, and is one of two running backs, along with Derrick Henry, to rush for a 99-yard touchdown.

9 Derrick Henry

Earning his Heisman award in 2015 for national champion Alabama, Henry became the eighth player in NFL history to rush for 2,000 yards and is a two-time NFL rushing leader. He rushed for more yards than any other running back in a four-season stretch (2019-2022) and earned Offensive Player of the Year honors in 2020.

10 Earl Campbell Earl Christian Campbell is a former American football running back who played professionally in the National Football League for the Houston Oilers and New Orleans Saints.

Known as the Tyler Rose, Campbell won the 1977 Heisman Trophy while at the University of Texas. Drafted first by the Houston Oilers, he won Rookie of the Year honors as well as three Offensive Player of the Year awards and the MVP, while guiding the Oilers to AFC Championship appearances in his first two seasons.

A five-time Pro Bowler and three-time First Team All-Pro, Campbell played eight seasons in the NFL.

The Contenders
11 Paul Hornung
12 Cam Newton Cameron Jerrell Newton is an American football quarterback for the Carolina Panthers of the National Football League. He had previously played with the Carolina Panthers from 2011 to 2019, and for the New England Patriots in 2020. In November 2021, he signed with his old team, the Carolina Panthers.
13 DeVonta Smith
14 Tim Brown
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