Expectations are sky-high for Caleb Williams. The expected number one overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft is viewed as a generational prospect and one of the best quarterbacks to come out of college in recent memory. Making the right choice with the top pick in the draft can make or break a franchise.

Last year, the Carolina Panthers traded a number of assets, including their 2024 first-round pick, to move up and select Bryce Young with the top pick. While it is too early to write Young off, his first year definitely didn't go as Panthers fans would have hoped.

As Young struggled, his Panthers finished with the worst record in the league this past season. That means that the Chicago Bears – who the Panthers traded with for the rights to pick Young – own the Panthers pick and will be picking first this year. They now have the chance to make Williams their franchise player, but only time will tell if the USC product lives up to expectations.

With a generational prospect like Williams set to go first overall this year being directly tied to a first overall pick from last year who has gotten off to a slow start, we decided to look at every top pick during the common draft era. The common draft era encompasses every NFL Draft since 1967, and since that time, there have obviously been some massive hits and some huge busts in the draft. In this article, we will rank every number one overall pick since 1967.

Of course, players who were recently taken with the first overall pick are at a disadvantage, as they still have long careers ahead of themselves. We can't predict the future, though, so this list will have more of an emphasis on what players have accomplished in their careers to date rather than what they are expected to produce in the future, although career trajectory will be taken into account for younger players.

A player like Joe Burrow is well on his way to ranking high on this list, but with only four seasons to his name, two of which were filled with injuries, he will rank relatively low. He will, however, rank higher than other players drafted recently who haven't shown as much promise on the football field.

57. JaMarcus Russell, QB: Oakland Raiders, 2007

JaMarcus Russell stretching on the Raiders
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

JaMarcus Russell is the biggest bust in NFL history. Russell did have some raw traits, but his lack of work ethic was his downfall. The Raiders infamously gave their quarterback blank films to see if he watched tape (he didn't), and he even reported to camp at nearly 300 pounds one season.

Russell was out of the league after three seasons, and he only recorded 4,083 passing during that time. To add insult to injury, Russell's contract with the team was worth $68 million over six years. The only positive to come out of Russell's career was that he was a big reason why the NFL added rookie wage scales for drafted players.

56. Ki-Jana Carter, RB: Cincinnati Bengals, 1995

A number of comeback attempts led to Ki-Jana Carter playing seven NFL seasons and allowed him to avoid being the biggest NFL Draft bust of all time. He didn't do much any any of those seasons, though, so he just trails Russell as the worst number one pick ever. Carter compiled only 1,144 yards on the ground in his career, and he only had 14 NFL starts to his name.

55. Steve Emtman, DL: Indianapolis Colts, 1992

Including picks before the common draft era, the Colts are tied with the Rams for picking first overall the most times. That means a draft bust was bound to happen, and it happened to Indianapolis in 1992 when they took Steve Emtman. Injuries limited the defensive lineman to only 134 tackles and eight sacks in his career.

54. Tim Couch, QB: Cleveland Browns, 1999

The Cleveland Browns are notorious for being bad drafters. That was most evident around the turn of the century, when Cleveland had the number one pick in back-to-back seasons, and both of those picks busted.

Couch was the more painful of the two picks, as his failure led to 38 different players starting a game under center for the Browns since they returned to the NFL in 1999.

His 59 starts with the team are actually tied for the most of any Browns quarterback during that time, and he did show positive flashes on the football field. Injuries were his downfall, though, and they led to the number one pick only playing five seasons.

53. Courtney Brown, DE: Cleveland Browns, 2000

After taking Couch in 1999, the Browns followed up with another NFL Draft bust in Courtney Brown. Like Couch, Brown only lasted five seasons in Cleveland, and he was out of the league after playing his sixth year in Denver. Also like Couch, injuries were Brown's undoing. He was sapped of his athleticism and was only able to get 19 sacks over his career.

52. Kenneth Sims, DE: New England Patriots, 1982

Kenneth Sims was yet another number-one pick who dealt with injury issues throughout his career. He did play eight years in New England, but he only got to the quarterback 17 times.

51. Bryce Young, QB: Carolina Panthers, 2023

2023 number one NFL Draft pick Bryce Young running the football on the Panthers
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

This player and the next one on this list are too still young and have plenty of time to turn things around, but you typically expect a number one overall pick to thrive from day one. That hasn't been the case for Bryce Young or Travon Walker.

Young, in particular, had a rough rookie season. He was significantly outshone by the second overall pick, CJ Stroud, and it has fans wondering if he will ever live up to expectations. In his rookie season, Young's Panthers were the worst team in the league, and his lack of size was evident against NFL competition.

50. Travon Walker, DE: Jacksonville Jaguars, 2022

Walker ranks ahead of Young on this list because he did drastically pick things up in year two after a disappointing rookie season. Walker secured 10 sacks in year two, and he will be viewed as a productive NFL player if he is able to improve on that next year. Still, his production has been underwhelming for a number-one pick. It was even a big surprise when the Jaguars took Walker at the top of the NFL Draft in 2022.

49. Walt Patulski, DE: Buffalo Bills, 1972

Walt Patulski was good but not great early in his career. He led his team in sacks as a rookie while showing tons of promise. Patulski was able to get 21.5 sacks just four years into his career, but he suffered a career-ending injury and retired after only five seasons. Patulski was likely never going to be one of the best first-overall picks ever, but he was on pace to rank higher than this if it wasn't for his early retirement.

48. Aundray Bruce, LB: Atlanta Falcons, 1988

Aundray Bruce was supposed to be the next big edge rusher, and he looked the part early in his career. He had six sacks in each of his first two seasons, but he never took the next step. Bruce settled into a role as a situational pass rusher, which is far from what the expectations were when he was made the number one overall pick.

47. David Carr, QB: Houston Texans, 2002

David Carr on the Texans
USA TODAY Sports-David Butler II

David Carr didn't have it easy in the NFL. The Texans were the league's newest expansion team in 2002, and they were awarded the top pick in that year's NFL Draft. The expansion franchise didn't have many good players early on, and it made life miserable for Carr.

He was sacked a record 76 times as a rookie, which is a record that still stands. While Carr did hold onto the ball too long, he didn't have an offensive line that was able to give him sufficient time to make reads down the field.

Carr's third season in the league was okay. He had 3,531 passing yards and 16 touchdowns that season, but those are underwhelming numbers for what was by far his best season. Carr spent that back half of his career as a backup.

46. Tom Cousineau, LB: Buffalo Bills, 1979

Tom Cousineau had all of the potential to be an elite number one pick, but in the three years directly following being selected first he played in the Canadian Football League. His delayed start in the NFL took away what could have been some great years, but Cousineau was still great when he finally did reach football's top league. He led the Browns – whom he was traded to after committing to the NFL – in tackles in three of his four seasons with the team.

45. Eric Fischer, OT: Kansas City Chiefs, 2013

Eric Fisher was a consistently solid offensive lineman during his time with the Kansas City Chiefs, but he was never an elite starter, and that is what you expect when you take a tackle first overall. Fisher was twice named a Pro Bowler, but you would also prefer a number one lineman to play at least a decade, and Fisher didn't do that, either.

44. Sam Bradford, QB: St. Louis Cardinals, 2010

Sam Bradford is one of the harder players to rank on this list, and we probably have him lower than a lot of others would. On one hand, he developed into a high-accuracy quarterback, but that didn't happen until later in his career and was largely a product of a dink-and-dunk offense that lacked big-time plays.

Bradford also dealt with injuries throughout his career that limited his production. He wasn't a bad quarterback, but he definitely wasn't number one pick quality.

43. Ricky Bell, RB: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1977

Ricky Bell's story is a tragic one. He was a talented back and had some big moments in the NFL. Notably, Bell had 142 yards and two touchdowns in Tampa Bay's first-ever playoff victory. However, medical issues cut Bell's career short.

Aching muscles, weight loss, and skin issues caused by dermatomyositis forced the running back to retire by 1982, and he tragically passed away because of heart failure only two years later.

42. Russell Maryland, DT: Dallas Cowboys, 1991

Russell Maryland on the Cowboys
Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

Russell Maryland joined the Cowboys just in time to help them become a dynasty. Maryland was just an okay player, as he was only selected to one Pro Bowl. He did win three Super Bowls along the way, though.

41. John Matuszak, DE: Houston Oilers, 1973

John Matuszak's acting career stands out more than his playing career, but he did have some solid years in the NFL. His prime was over his first two seasons with the Raiders, where he had 18.5 sacks over that two year stretch. Outside of that, he was a pretty average player.

40. Kyler Murray, QB: Arizona Cardinals, 2019

The next four players on this list are all in the same boat. They are all recent number one picks who play quarterback and still have something to prove. Murray's future outlook isn't as bright as Trevor Lawrence's, and he hasn't done as much in the league as Baker Mayfield, so he ranks behind both players.

Questions arose last year about if Murray was Arizona's quarterback of the future, but it has become clear that the team is committed to him. Murray has the creativity to be an elite quarterback in the NFL, but he needs to put things together on a more consistent basis.

39. Baker Mayfield, QB: Cleveland Browns, 2018

Baker Mayfield is a high-energy player who wants to win more than anything. He lacks a little bit of the talent that a team wants out of a number-one pick, though. His tenure in Cleveland had some electric moments. For example, Mayfield led to the Browns to the playoffs in 2020, which was the first time Cleveland made the postseason since 2002. Additionally, he helped the team get a playoff win, which was something that had not happened since 1994.

Mayfield's numbers were somewhat mediocre, though, and the team traded him after only four seasons. He bounced around the league for a little bit but had a resurgence last season. In 2023-24, Mayfield had his best season to date. He earned a Pro Bowl nod by throwing for over 4,000 yards.

Mayfield earned a big deal with Tampa Bay and now has a long-term home. If last season was any indication, Mayfield's best days are still ahead of him, and the quarterback could be looked at as an above-average player at his position going forward.

38. Trevor Lawrence, QB: Jacksonville Jaguars, 2021

Trevor Lawrence has been solid since being drafted with the first pick in 2021, but it is fair to say that he has disappointed in comparison to the massive expectations that were set on him as a prospect. Still, Lawrence has a case as a top-10 quarterback in the league, as he has surpassed 4,000 passing yards in each of his last two seasons.

Lawrence needs to start throwing more touchdowns, but the ceiling is still sky-high for the Clemson product. He seems destined for a breakout campaign in year four.

37. Jameis Winston, QB: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2015

Unlike the three quarterbacks behind him in this list, Jameis Winston's best days are likely in the rearview. Winston started his career as an entertaining but streaky quarterback with the Buccaneers. He could put up big numbers because of his great deep ball, but his football IQ wasn't great, and it led to a lot of interceptions.

Winston has now settled into a role as one of the best backup quarterbacks in football, meaning the three quarterbacks behind him on this list have a chance of surpassing him in the near future.

36. Jeff George, QB: Indianapolis Colts, 1990

Jeff George was a very talented quarterback. He played on seven different teams during his NFL career because his personality tended to create conflicts with coaches and management. That prevented George from ever becoming a true franchise quarterback. Still, George led multiple different teams to the playoffs and even led the league in passing yards in 1997.

35. Jadeveon Clowney, DE: Houston Texans, 2014

Jadeveon Clowney didn't live up to the massive expectations that were set for him when the Texans took him first overall. He has still had a long and productive NFL career, though. Clowney has 52.5 sacks in his career, but he has become a journeyman of sorts. He will be playing for his sixth team next season.

34. Joe Burrow, QB: Cincinnati Bengals, 2020

Number one NFL Draft pick Joe Burrow on the Bengals
Kareem Elgarazzar-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Burrow ranks higher than every other first-overall pick from the last six NFL Drafts because he is already a clear star. Burrow's injuries during his first and fourth seasons limit his placement on this list, but the young quarterback already has a case as the best quarterback in the league who is not named Patrick Mahomes.

Burrow surpassed 4,000 yards and 34 touchdowns in each of his fully healthy seasons, and he already led the Bengals to one Super Bowl appearance. Much more is yet to come from the 27-year-old.

33. Dan Wilkinson, DT: Cincinnati Bengals, 1994

Dan Wilkinson was far from the Bengals' worst pick in the '90s, but he certainly didn't live up to expectations. He was still a solid, starting-caliber defensive tackle for the 13 seasons that he played in, and he did secure 54.5 sacks during his career. Fans always wanted more, though.

32. Steve Bartkowski, QB: Atlanta Falcons, 1975

The beginning and end of Steve Bartkowski's career was marked by injuries, but he was a really good quarterback during his prime. Most notably, he threw 61 touchdowns over a two year span at the start of the '80s.

31. Jake Long, OT: Miami Dolphins, 2008

Before injuries got the best of him, Jake Long was one of the best offensive tackles in football. After Pro Bowl and All-Pro selections early in his career, Long lost a step, and he started to hop from team to team. In his prime, he was an elite blindside protector who thrived in both pass protection and run blocking.

30. Billy Sims, RB: Detroit Lions, 1980

Billy Sims was fantastic when he was on the field, but he was another victim of injuries. He only played five seasons in the NFL, and only three of those saw him on the field for at least 12 games.

He surpassed 1,000 yards in those three seasons, and he even had 13 rushing touchdowns in each of his first two years in the league. Sims didn't have the longevity to rank higher on this list, but he was a heck of a football player.

29. Jared Goff, QB: Los Angeles Rams, 2016

Jared Goff has always been underrated during his career, and people are finally starting to come to terms with his greatness now that he is leading a high-octane offense with the Detroit Lions. Goff's success started early in his career with the Rams, though. Goff earned a Pro Bowl nod in two of his first three seasons in the league, and he led Los Angeles to a Super Bowl appearance in year three.

Goff put up impressive numbers in Los Angeles, but the Rams wanted an upgrade and traded for Matthew Stafford. The quarterback has only improved since joining Detroit, and there are a number of number-one picks he will pass on this list sooner rather than later.

28. Bubba Smith, DE: Baltimore Colts, 1967

Bubba Smith was the first number-one pick in the Common Draft era. As is the case with a fair share of the first overall selections on this list, it was injuries that held Smith back. When he was healthy, he was a force to be reckoned with, and that was evident in his first few seasons in the league.

Smith earned two All-Pro selections, two Pro Bowl nods, and won a Super Bowl in his first five seasons in the league. Then, he missed the entire 1972 season with a knee injury, and he never returned to form.

27. Mario Williams, DE: Houston Texans, 2006

Many experts thought that Reggie Bush should have been the top pick in 2006, but Mario Williams ended up being the better choice. Williams added up 97.5 sacks and five All-Pro nods to his resume during his 11-year career.

26. Alex Smith, QB: San Francisco 49ers, 2005

Alex Smith was the ultimate game manager, and you usually want a little more out of a number-one pick. Still, Smith's career was long and productive enough to warrant a spot in the top 30 for all-time top draft picks.

25. Bo Jackson, RB: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1986

Bo Jackson is one of the most famous first-overall picks ever, but his career in totality might not be as impressive as you might remember. Jackson's NFL career was only four seasons long, and he never played more than 11 games in a season. He never even rushed for 1,000 yards, nor did he have more than five rushing touchdowns in a season.

Still, Jackson was one of the most dominant players in the league when he was on the field. His speed/power combination made him nearly impossible to bring down, and he went down as one of the best pure athletes in NFL history.

Jackson was a weird case, as he didn't play for Tampa Bay after they made him the top choice. Instead, he played his football for a Raiders team that took him in the following year's draft and allowed him to split time between football and MLB. His legacy as a two-sport athlete will never be forgotten, but his NFL career was somewhat averaged compared to his peers because of the lack of time he actually spent on the turf.

24. Keyshawn Johnson, WR: New York Jets, 1996

Number one NFL Draft pick Keyshawn Johnson celebrating on the Jets

Keyshawn Johnson may have been a big prime donna, but he was also a very talented pass catcher. He surpassed 1,000 receiving yards four times and even caught 106 balls in 2001. Johnson may have thought he was better than he actually was, but he was, in fact, very good.

23. Irving Fryar, WR: New England Patriots, 1984

Only two receivers have gone first overall in the Common Draft era, and they rank back-to-back on this list. It took Fryar a while to get going in the NFL, as his stats in the '80s are underwhelming, but he played long enough that he outranks Keyshawn Johnson here. Fryar played until he was 38 years old, and that allowed him to rack up 12,785 receiving yards, the 21st most ever.

22. Andrew Luck, QB: Indianapolis Colts, 2012

Andrew Luck had one of the biggest “what if” careers in NFL history. He was viewed as one of the best prospects ever and quickly took over the league. However, he retired at the age of just 29 after six seasons in the NFL (he was hurt for a seventh).

In that little time, Luck managed to put up for 23,000 yards and 171 touchdowns in the air. He seemed destined for greatness, but he prioritized staying healthy and retiring from the league, as he was heavily sacked during his time in Indianapolis.

21. Jim Plunkett, QB: New England Patriots, 1971

Jim Plunkett wasn't necessarily an elite quarterback, but he won two Super Bowls and was the Super Bowl MVP one of those times. That alone makes for an impressive resume and lands Plunkett in the top 25 best number-one picks ever.

Plunkett put up solid numbers with the Patriots, but he won his championships with the Raiders. He initially served as a backup for the Raiders before becoming the man to lead them to championship glory.

20. Vinny Testaverde, QB: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1987

Vinny Testaverde was given lofty expectations when he was drafted first overall. He might not have become the megastar he was supposed to be, but his resume is impressive. Testaverde played until he was 44 years old and threw for 46,233 yards and 275 touchdowns during that span. He had stints on eight different teams, but he found varying levels of success with each of them.

19. George Rogers, RB: New Orleans Saints, 1981

George Rogers immediately lived up to the billing of being a number one pick by setting a then record for rookie rushing yards (1,674). That mark still ranks second all-time, but Rogers' career didn't end there. Five years later he had 18 rushing touchdowns, and he eventually won a Super Bowl with Washington.

18. Michael Vick, QB: Atlanta Falcons, 2001

Michael Vick is the best rushing quarterback ever and one of the most influential players in changing the game of football. Vick's 6,109 yards on the ground and seven yards per carry are both the best marks ever for a quarterback.

The Falcons draftee was a highlight waiting to happen, and his talent on the ground makes people forget how impressive he was as a thrower as well. Vick's arm strength was incredible, and he threw a pretty ball with a perfect spiral. He quickly became a star in the NFL, and he was headed toward legend status.

Unfortunately, Vick lost his prime when he was arrested for dog fighting. He did have an incredible comeback after returning to the NFL, but he was never able to live up to his fullest potential because of the time he spent in jail.

17. Myles Garrett, DE: Cleveland Browns, 2017

Browns number one NFL Draft pick Myles Garrett taking a knee
Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

Myles Garrett is the best number one pick over the last decade. He was a rare hit at the top of the NFL Draft for the Browns. Garrett is a five-time All-Pro and finally earned a much-deserved Defensive Player of the Year nod last season. Garrett still has a lot of good years ahead of him, too, meaning he will likely rank much higher on this list when it is all said and done.

16. Drew Bledsoe, QB: New England Patriots, 1993

Drew Bledsoe is perhaps most known for being replaced by Tom Brady, but he did have a solid career in his own right. Bledsoe passed for 44,611 yards and 251 touchdowns during his career. One of his four Pro Bowl appearances even came after Brady became the Patriots starter.

15. Cam Newton, QB: Carolina Panthers, 2011

Cam Newton was a quarterback in a defensive lineman's body. He was massive, and although it led to defenders hitting him hard, it also led to him becoming one of the best rushing quarterbacks ever. Instead of avoiding defensive players, he ran through them.

Newton also had an incredible arm. Newton's 2015-16 season was special. His Panthers offense was potent, and Newton's “dab” and “Superman” celebrations became global sensations. Unfortunately, the Panthers lost to the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl that year, but not until after the quarterback secured the MVP award.

14. Ron Yary, OT: Minnesota Vikings, 1968

Only 10 first overall picks drafted in the common draft era have been elected to the Hall of Fame. Yary is one of them (and the first from the common draft era). Yary was so talented at protecting the quarterback that he became the first offensive lineman ever drafted number one. He lived up to the selection with a magnificent career that included seven Pro Bowl nods.

13. Ed Jones, DE: Dallas Cowboys, 1974

Ed Jones, nicknamed Too Tall, was a mountain of a man. Jones wasn't heavily scouted for a top pick, but his physical traits were too much to pass on for the Cowboys. Jones' ability to get after the quarterback led to 106 career sacks, and even when he didn't pressure the quarterback, his size made him a threat to get swats at the line of scrimmage.

12. Carson Palmer, QB: Cincinnati Bengals, 2003

Number one NFL Draft pick Carson Palmer on Bengals
Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

Carson Palmer is one of the most underrated players in NFL history. Although he wasn't usually a top-five quarterback in the league, and he never won a championship, he was consistently a top-10ish player at his position, and he succeeded for a long time.

Palmer threw for 46,247 yards and 294 touchdowns during his career, both of which rank 15th all-time. His longevity is amongst the best ever, and Palmer was a Super Bowl away from reaching legend status.

11. Lee Roy Selmon, DE: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1976

Lee Roy Selmon was Tampa Bay's first superstar. He made six straight Pro Bowl appearances and is now a Hall of Famer. Selmon played with ferocious intensity when it came to getting after the quarterback and stopping the run.

10. Orlando Pace, OT: St. Louis Rams, 1997 

Orlando Pace is not as well known as the other number one picks in the top 10 of this list, but his placement is more than warranted. Many consider Pace to be the greatest offensive lineman of all time. He made seven Pro Bowls while protecting his quarterback's blindspot, and he did it in an era where the Rams had one of the best offenses in league history.

9. Matthew Stafford, QB: Detroit Lions, 2009

Matthew Stafford played on some bad Lions teams early in his career, but he was never the problem. With Calvin Johnson lined up outside, Stafford was one-half of one of the best quarterback-receiver pairings this century. He was able to put up massive numbers with Megatron catching his passes.

He hit 40,000 career yards quicker than anyone else in history, and he ranks top 12 all-time in passing yards, (56,047), passing touchdowns (357), and completions (4,834). Stafford even has one of the 15 5,000-yard seasons in league history to his name.

After putting up monster numbers in Detroit, Stafford was finally able to lead his team to championship glory after being traded to the Rams.

8. Eli Manning, QB: San Diego Chargers, 2004

Eli Manning followed in the footsteps of John Elway and immediately requested a trade out of the organization that took him number one. Like Elway, Manning also had a magnificent career after being moved to a team that better fit him.

Manning is responsible for some of the best Super Bowl games and biggest Super Bowl moments in history, as he twice beat the Patriots dynasty in dramatic fashion in the biggest game.

Eli and his brother Peyton were both drafted first overall. Two family members both making the same league together is impressive enough, but both being so talented that they are taken with the top pick is unfathomable.

7. Earl Campbell, RB: Houston Oilers, 1978

Some running backs rely on speed, but Earl Campbell relied on power and strength. He ran through opposing defensive players en route to 9,407 career rushing yards and 74 rushing touchdowns. The running back will forever be remembered as the greatest Houston Oilers player ever.

6. O.J. Simpson, RB: Buffalo Bills, 1969

Number one NFL Draft pick O.J. Simpson on the Bills

O.J. Simpson has stayed relevant long after his playing days, and his off-the-field drama makes people forget that he was once one of the best running backs ever. Simpson was a part of arguably the biggest trial in United States history, and he ended up seeing jail time for an unrelated crime.

Simpson's recent passing was big news. Back in the '70s, he was unstoppable on the gridiron. The running back led the NFL in rushing yards four times. During that span, he became the first of only eight backs to rush for 2,000 yards in a season.

5. Terry Bradshaw, QB: Pittsburgh Steelers, 1970

Terry Bradshaw is one of the best winners in NFL history. Bradshaw led the Steelers to becoming a dynasty, as they won four championships with him under center. His numbers don't jump off the page, but that is just a product of his era. Bradshaw delivered massive plays in the biggest moments.

4. Troy Aikman, QB: Dallas Cowboys, 1989

Number one NFL Draft pick Troy Aikman on the Cowboys

Troy Aikman was an incredibly accurate quarterback, and it led to three Super Bowl victories during the golden age of Cowboys football. Under the leadership of Aikman, America's team knew how to win the most important football games, which is something that has become more of a rarity since his retirement.

3. Bruce Smith, DE: Buffalo Bills, 1985

If the quarterback position wasn't so valuable, Bruce Smith would have a case as the best number one NFL Draft pick ever. Smith's 200 sacks are the most ever, and he was a two-time Defensive Player of the Year.

Because the quarterback position is the most important in football, having someone who can make life hard on opposing signal-callers is the next most valuable thing. Smith made life miserable for opposing quarterbacks, and he is clearly one of the best sack artists in league history.

2. John Elway, QB: Baltimore Colts, 1983

Say what you want about the Colts, but they clearly know how to evaluate quarterbacks. Along with Jeff George, Andrew Luck, and Peyton Manning (more on him later), the Colts selected John Elway with the first overall pick.

Of course, Elway never played for the Colts, who were in Baltimore at the time. Instead, the prize of the quarterback class of 1983 – arguably the best NFL Draft class ever – decided to threaten that he would play baseball if he was drafted by the Colts. Baltimore took him anyway, but they were forced to trade him to the Denver Broncos, and the rest is history.

Elway's cannon of an arm and ability to use his legs made him one of the best physical freaks to ever play the quarterback position. It led to five Super Bowl appearances, two of which he won to end his career. Your number one pick never playing a down for you is not good, but there is no denying that Elway is one of the best NFL players ever, regardless of being drafted first overall.

1. Peyton Manning, QB: Indianapolis Colts, 1998

The expectation for number one overall picks is that you become a Hall of Famer, but becoming one of the clear-cut all-time greats is even better. While no one has a resume like Tom Brady, who was a sixth-round pick, there is no doubt that Manning is one of the best players ever.

Manning's five MVP awards are the most in league history. He is also the all-time leader in 4,000-yard passing seasons (14), single-season passing yards (5,477), single-season passing touchdowns (55), and first-team All-Pro selections for a quarterback (seven), and he is third in career passing touchdowns (539) and career passing yards (71,940).

Manning's tenure with the Colts was legendary, but his time with the Broncos is not to be forgotten either. His accuracy was unmatched during his Colts days, and he won with his brain on the Broncos.