rom Bubba Smith to Jared Goff, there have been 50 players drafted No. 1 overall in the common draft era, which began in 1967 following the AFL-NFL merger.
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To honor the golden anniversary, NFL.com ranked them all. Giants quarterback Eli Manning, the top pick in 2004, came in at No. 12, one spot ahead of running back Billy Sims (1980) and one behind defensive end Ed “Too Tall” Jones (1974).
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Manning, of course, was originally drafted by the Chargers before the Giants made a draft-day trade to acquire the Ole Miss product. Since then, Manning has won two Super Bowls and earned MVP honors both times. Manning is also seventh all-time in career completions (4,072) and touchdowns (320), and eighth in passing yards (48,214). And he’s still going strong.
“Thirteen seasons and two Super Bowl rings later, the Giants don’t regret it,” NFL.com’s Elliot Harrison wrote. “How far Manning climbs on this list — and, more importantly, whether he makes the Hall of Fame — depends much on what he can accomplish with a solid Giants team right now.”
Only 14 players in the history of NFL Draft have gone from being the first overall choice to earning an induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Peyton Manning, Eli’s brother, will surely become the 15th and topped the list as the best No. 1 pick.
“Easy choice at the top of the list,” Harrison wrote. “Not only is Peyton Manning one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time (I have him at third), he remains at the top of the charts in most major passing stats. Manning threw 28 interceptions as a rookie but started picking things up over the back half of his debut season. By Year 2, he was a Pro Bowl-level player and had the Colts in the playoffs. Manning’s total of five MVPs continues to boggle the mind. What player, in any sport, can lay claim to being the best of the best in five different years? Not many.”
Here is a look at the Top 10, according to NFL.com:
10. Orlando Pace, offensive tackle
9. Lee Roy Selmon, defensive lineman
8. Ron Yary, offensive tackle
7. Earl Campbell, running back
6. O.J. Simpson, running back
5. Troy Aikman, quarterback
4. Terry Bradshaw, quarterback
3. John Elway, quarterback
2. Bruce Smith, defensive end
1. Peyton Manning, quarterback