Top 10 Heisman Trophy Winners with the Best NFL CareersThis is a list of the Heisman Trophy winners who had great careers in the NFL.
Barry Sanders won the Heisman Trophy in 1988 while playing with 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, 4-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.
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, two Super Bowl titles, with one Super Bowl MVP to his name. He earned six Pro Bowls, 4 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.
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 would earn four first-team All-Pro nods.
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 being one of the most elite quarterbacks in the NFL.
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.
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.
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.
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' 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.
Earning his Heisman award in 2015 for national champion Alabama, Henry became the 8th 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.
Known as the Tyler Rose, Campbell won the 1977 Heisman Trophy while at the University of Texas. Drafted first by the Houston Oilers, he would win 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.