When evaluating the last 10 number one overall picks, what stands out the most is just how sad and pathetic this list truly is. It features pretty much none of the biggest stars in the NFL today. It’s almost embarrassing how average most of the players who were deemed the best player in their draft class are. It genuinely makes me worry about what the future holds for Joe Burrow. It also makes me think, maybe there’s a chance the number 1 pick isn’t really worth it. Does that sound crazy? Here’s a countdown of the best and worst players to be selected at the top of their class over the last decade.
5th Best: Jared Goff
Goff is subject to a lot of ridicule, but he’s not a bad quarterback. In just 4 NFL seasons (3 as a full-time starter), Goff has made the playoffs twice, made the Super Bowl, thrown for over 4,600 yards in a season twice and has a record of 33-14 since Sean McVay took over as head coach. Goff isn’t perfect, but he’s good enough to win with and works well with the Rams offense.
5th Worst: Jadeveon Clowney
Clowney isn’t the elite, menacing, dominant pass rusher everyone thought he was going to be once he entered the league. He’s had a few decent seasons, but has yet to post a single campaign with double digit sacks. Clowney’s failure is only compounded by the fact that defensive stars Khalil Mack and Aaron Donald were both taken within the next twelve picks after he was selected. Mack and Donald have proven to be vastly superior players and both embody the kind of disruptive force that Clowney was supposed to be.
4th Best: Kyler Murray
It’s too soon to know for certain where Murray should rank on this list, but the early returns were good. With a first year head coach, a revolving door at running back, a patchwork offensive line, pretty much no tight end to speak of and a wide receiving core full of players that were either too young or too old, Kyler put together a Rookie of the Year award winning season worth remembering. With DeAndre Hopkins now in the fold, Kyler can hope to build on a solid rookie year and turn the Cardinals into a dynamic offense that should be exciting to watch.
4th Worst: Baker Mayfield
Baker hasn’t quite become the savior Cleveland thought they were getting. Not yet at least. His 21 interceptions last season ranked 2nd in the NFL behind only Jameis Winston, who is jobless right now. Mayfield will have to cut down on the turnovers and develop some semblance of chemistry with his star receivers if he wants to get his career back on the right track.
3rd Best: Andrew Luck
Despite a premature retirement, Andrew Luck is one of the few players on this list who lived up to his draft hype. If it wasn’t for injuries, Luck may still be playing and he’d make a compelling case for the top spot on this list. He led the NFL in touchdown passes in 2014, made 4 Pro Bowls and took the Colts within one game of the Super Bowl. You can say what you want about Andrew Luck, but you can’t say he wasn’t supremely talented.
3rd Worst: Eric Fisher
Fisher looked like he was beginning to turn things around in his career after making a Pro Bowl in 2018, but missed half of the 2019 season with a groin injury and didn’t perform too well upon his return to the field. The 2013 NFL draft will go down as one of the worst in history and the top 16 picks are particularly brutal. Despite remaining somewhat serviceable for Kansas City, Fisher isn’t anywhere close to being one of the top tackles in the league and can’t even be called the best tackle on his own team.
2nd Best: Myles Garrett
When he’s not hitting people over the head with helmets, Myles Garrett is a pretty good football player. He was well on his way to a career-high in sacks before being suspended for the remainder of the season and has tallied 30.5 total sacks in 37 career games. Garrett is one of the best pass rushers in the league and, if he continues his upward trajectory, should have a few All-Pro appearances in his future.
2nd Worst: Jameis Winston
The expectations were high for the Heisman Trophy-winning National Champion after a historic college career, but after 5 mediocre seasons in Tampa Bay, no NFL team wants to touch Jameis Winston with a 10-foot pole. It looks like Winston’s going to have to take a job as a backup just to get another crack at the NFL, which is sad and surprising for a player coming off a 5,000 yard season. With such little interest around the league, it’s starting to feel like Winston’s next shot may be his last.
Best: Cam Newton
With an MVP, a Rookie of the Year, a 15-1 season, a Super Bowl appearance, Cam Newton is number one with a bullet on this list. Newton led Carolina to the postseason four times during his career. Even with his recent fall from grace after an injury plagued season, Newton’s career accomplishments speak for themselves.
Worst: Sam Bradford
It’s hard to imagine Sam Bradford was drafted just a mere 10 years ago. In his 9-year NFL career, he never finished a single season above .500 as a starter and developed a reputation for his unimpactful checkdowns. After the Rams finally gave up on him after five seasons, Bradford bounced around with the Eagles, Vikings and Cardinals before losing his starting job in all three places. Bradford has been out of the league since being released by the Cardinals in November of 2018, but has yet to officially retire. He received every chance imaginable in his career, but proved time and time again to be one of the biggest busts in NFL history.
Photo: (Tom Gannam – AP Photo)