Top 10 Best NFL Players Drafted 1st Overall Since 2000

The NFL draft is a special event. Every year, the top college football players get to make their childhood dreams a reality and make it to the NFL. It's a rare opportunity for these players. What's even rarer is going 1st overall. Being the first name called on draft night is a special moment.

There's a lot of pressure to handle for both the team and the player. Sometimes it's a home run. Other times, it's not.

These players were all taken with the first overall pick. Let's discuss how their careers went. This list is specifically for those who were picked first overall after 2000! So, Peyton Manning is ineligible for this specific list.
The Top Ten
1 Andrew Luck, Colts (2012) Andrew Austen Luck is a former American football quarterback who played his entire career for the Indianapolis Colts of the National Football League.

The biggest what-if scenario in the modern NFL is what if Andrew Luck wasn't cursed by injuries? Coming out of college, Andrew Luck was hyped as the next legendary quarterback. He was set to be the Colts' replacement for Peyton Manning, who ironically was the player to whom Luck was most often compared. In 2012, he broke the record for most passing yards in a season by a rookie.

Unfortunately, he would retire in 2019 due to a string of injuries that had derailed his career. He's considered by many one of the best players in football to retire in his prime. Before his retirement, he made 4 Pro Bowl appearances and won Comeback Player of the Year in 2018, and led the league in passing touchdowns in 2014. It's the ultimate and unfortunate case of what could have been.

2 Matthew Stafford, Lions (2009) John Matthew Stafford is an American football quarterback for the Los Angeles Rams of the National Football League.

The #1 overall pick in 2009 selected by The Detroit Lions, Stafford has a critical acclaim in his stats.

Stafford is the fastest player in NFL history to reach 30,000 passing... read more

Matthew Stafford is quite the polarizing figure. The Lions drafted him first overall in 2009 after an 0-16 season. They hit rock bottom and had nowhere to go but up. Detroit fans either love him or hate him. The arguments on both sides are valid.

On one end, the Lions never gave him a decent surrounding cast. On the other hand, Stafford does himself no favors with the long list of injuries throughout his career. Despite playing through most of them, he doesn't play the same. He is the type to stat pad, especially in garbage time.

His resume is in the eye of the beholder. Some say he's a great quarterback, while others say he's carried by the team around him and he's nothing more than a stat padding player. In terms of his accomplishments, he won the Comeback Player of the Year award in 2011 and has made two Pro Bowls. In 2021, he was traded to the LA Rams in a blockbuster trade. He would lead the Rams to a Super Bowl win in Super Bowl LVI.

3 Eli Manning, Chargers (2004) Elisha Nelson "Eli" Manning is a former American football quarterback who played his entire career for the New York Giants of the National Football League. He is the younger brother of former NFL quarterback Peyton Manning.

Technically, Eli was drafted by the Chargers, yet he refused to play for them, so the Chargers traded him to the Giants. I know on paper his numbers aren't the most flashy, but Eli Manning still left his mark on the NFL, winning 2 Super Bowls against the Patriots in his career, including possibly the greatest upset in sports history, defeating the previously undefeated Patriots in 2007.

Eli Manning was named to 4 Pro Bowls and has set multiple records in Giants franchise history, including passing yards, passing touchdowns, and completions. From 2004-2017, he started in 210 consecutive games. As of his retirement, he ranked 10th all time in passing yards and touchdowns respectively. Not necessarily a stat king on paper, but he still left behind quite a legacy.

4 Myles Garrett, Browns (2017)

Myles Garrett seemingly only gets better, aging like fine wine. Cleveland has had some rough seasons, but Myles Garrett was about the biggest home run they could've had. He was a starting Defensive End and, despite missing a few games for injuries, he notched 31 combined tackles, 19 solo tackles, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery as well as 7 sacks which led the team. He's considered one of the top defensive players in the league and has consistently been a key contributor for Cleveland.

He's barely missed any games outside of a suspension as a result of one brawling incident with Mason Rudolph in 2019. He's played in at least 10 games every season and has at least 10 sacks every season except his rookie season. He's been named to the Pro Bowl five times so far and has made Second Team All Pro twice and First Team All Pro three times, and was named Defensive Player of the Year in 2023.

5 Michael Vick, Falcons (2001) Michael Dwayne Vick (born June 26, 1980) is a former American football quarterback who played 13 seasons in the National Football League, primarily with the Atlanta Falcons and the Philadelphia Eagles. He played college football at Virginia Tech and was selected by the Falcons as the first overall pick... read more

At the time, Michael Vick revolutionized the quarterback position. He led Virginia Tech to a National Championship appearance in 1999 and won Big East Offensive Rookie of the Year and Offensive Player of the Year honors. He was an interesting and exciting player to watch.

Atlanta took him first overall in 2001, and he spent six seasons with the Falcons. During that time, he led them to the playoffs two times, making one NFC Championship game appearance and winning one division title, and making three Pro Bowls. Unfortunately, in 2007, he was arrested for his involvement in a dog fighting ring.

He would serve 21 months in federal prison and was released by the Falcons. He would eventually get another chance in the NFL, playing for the Eagles under Andy Reid for four seasons (2009-2013). He would make a Pro Bowl in 2010 and win the NFL Comeback Player of the Year award. He would then play for the Jets and Steelers on one-year deals before retiring from football in 2017. He made four Pro Bowls in his NFL career.

6 Joe Burrow, Bengals (2020)

Joe Burrow, coming off a National Championship in 2019, was primed to be a top pick in 2020. The Bengals selected Burrow to be the next face of the franchise. He had a very promising start in his rookie campaign until injuries derailed him.

He would bounce back in his second year, leading the Bengals back to the playoffs for the first time since 2015, winning the division and making it to the Super Bowl, ultimately coming up short against the Rams. Burrow was named the NFL Comeback Player of the Year in 2021.

In 2022, the Bengals would win the division again, marking the first time the franchise had won back-to-back division titles, and they would make it to the AFC Championship Game, ultimately losing to the Chiefs. Burrow's season was cut short in 2023 due to injuries. So far, he has played well when he's healthy. Over time, he can ascend up this list.

7 Cam Newton, Panthers (2011) 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.

Cam Newton had arguably one of the greatest seasons ever for a player in college football history. In 2010, he racked up numerous accolades, most notably including SEC Player of the Year, winning the Heisman Trophy, and winning the National Championship. The Carolina Panthers selected him first overall in 2011, and he definitely hit the ground running, setting rookie records for passing yards and rushing yards.

Newton was the first rookie to throw for 400 yards in his debut and the first rookie to pass for 4,000 yards, winning him Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. He was named to the Pro Bowl as well. In 2015, Newton was named Offensive Player of the Year and was named the NFL MVP after a 15-1 season with an appearance in Super Bowl 50. Unfortunately, the Panthers would lose to the Denver Broncos.

After 2015, Newton wasn't quite the same player as he dealt with injuries and eventually was released. He would play for the Patriots for a short time before returning to Carolina on a one-year contract. Newton has not played a snap in the NFL since 2021, although he's never officially announced his retirement.

8 Carson Palmer, Bengals (2003) Carson Hilton Palmer is a former American football quarterback in the National Football League. He played for the Cincinnati Bengals, Oakland Raiders, and Arizona Cardinals.

Going into the 2003 NFL Draft, Carson Palmer was fresh off winning the Heisman Trophy at USC under Pete Carroll. He made 2 Pro Bowls as a Bengal and led Cincinnati to their first winning season and playoff appearance in 15 years. After a deteriorating relationship with the front office, the Bengals traded Palmer to the Raiders.

His stint with the Raiders was pretty forgettable. He would then play a few seasons for the Cardinals, winning a playoff game and leading them to the NFC Championship Game in 2015, in what was considered his best season as a professional. He announced his retirement in 2018 and was named to the Cardinals ring of honor in 2019. At the time of his retirement, he was 12th all-time in both Passing yards (46,247) and Passing Touchdowns (294).

9 Alex Smith, 49ers (2005) Alexander Douglas Smith is an American football quarterback for the Washington Redskins of the National Football League.

In 2005, Alex Smith was drafted first overall by San Francisco over local Cal product Aaron Rodgers. Early on, Smith was harshly criticized by the 49ers fanbase. His rookie season was pretty bad with him only playing 9 total games and having a 2-5 record. He scored just one touchdown and threw 11 interceptions.

His first few seasons were ugly, to say the least. He struggled with inconsistencies, coaching changes, injuries, and a fanbase that was quickly losing their patience. It wasn't until Jim Harbaugh came along in 2011 that Smith finally turned things around.

He was traded to Kansas City in 2013 and led the Chiefs to respectability under Andy Reid. In 2018, he was traded to Washington to make way for Patrick Mahomes. Smith would suffer a horrific compound fracture to his tibia and fibula in 2018, which became life-threatening. He was sidelined until 2020, when he led the Commanders to a playoff berth and won the Comeback Player of the Year award. He was a 3-time Pro Bowler and led the NFL in passer rating in 2017.

10 Jake Long, Dolphins (2008)

An Offensive Tackle out of Michigan who had been named an All American in back-to-back years (2006-07), Jake Long had a relatively successful career in the NFL. He was an immediate starter for Miami, starting in every game during his rookie campaign. He was named to several all-rookie teams and was named to the Pro Bowl.

Throughout his stint with Miami, he would play in 4 straight Pro Bowls and was named 2nd Team All-Pro in 2009 and 1st Team All-Pro in 2010. At one point, he was considered the 2nd best Offensive lineman in the NFL, behind Joe Thomas. He would play for the Rams, Falcons, and Vikings in very short-lived stints.

Unfortunately, he was limited by injuries and would retire from the NFL altogether in 2017. Overall, he was a pretty decent pick, all things considered.

BAdd New Item