Ranking every NFL quarterback drafted with the first overall pick in the Super Bowl era
Trevor Lawrence will join an elite fraternity if he is selected with the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Lawrence would become the eighth active NFL quarteback taken with that first pick. The last three No. 1 picks were Joe Burrow (2020), Kyler Murray (2019) and Baker Mayfield (2018). All of those quarterbacks are faced with the expectation of leading that team to the Super Bowl. A total of 25 QBs who were taken No. 1 in the NFL Draft in the Super Bowl era have faced that test. Seven lived up to that expectation, and two more started in a Super Bowl later in their careers. A total of six won Super Bowls.MORE: Ranking 2021 QBsSo that’s the company Lawrence will keep among the active No. 1 QBs in the league today.Here are those 25 quarterbacks, ranked from 25-1.
Team: Raiders (2007)Stats: 4,083 yards, 18 TDs, 23 INTsNext QB taken: Brady Quinn (No. 22)Lowdown: Lane Kiffin wanted Calvin Johnson. The Raiders went with Russell, theLSU star who made it through half of a bloated six-year, $68 million deal. He is nowconsidered one of the biggest busts in NFL history, and that secures his spot at the back of this list.
Team:Bengals (2020)Stats:2,688 yards, 13 TDs, 5 INTsNext QB taken:Tua Tagovailoa (No. 5)Lowdown:Burrow suffered a season-ending knee injury just 10 games into his career, but he’s already on the recovery path and he offers the Bengals a bright future at the game’s most-important position. He’ll move up this list, but Cincinnati needs to protect their investment.
Team: Browns (1999)Stats: 11,131 yards, 64 TDs, 67 INTsNext QB taken: Donovan McNabb (No. 2)Lowdown: Couch took over for the expansion Browns, and he took 56 sacks in his first season. Couch fought through growing pains for five years, but he lost the starting job to Kelly Holcomb and never returned after the 2003 season.
Team: Texans (2002)Stats: 14,452 yards, 65 TDs, 71 INTsNext QB taken: Joey Harrington (No. 3)Lowdown: Carr took over as quarterback for the expansion Houston franchise, and he took an NFL-record 76 sacks as a rookie. He never had a winning record in five seasons, but he did stay in the league as a backup until 2012.
Team: Buccaneers (2015)Stats: 19,812 yards, 121 TDs, 88 INTsNext QB taken: Marcus Mariota (No. 2)Lowdown: Winston led the NFL in passing yards with 391.3 per game in 2019, but he also threw a league-worst 30 interceptions. He struggled with turnovers throughout his career with Tampa Bay, and he has yet to live up to the expectations he set as a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback from Florida State. Winston spent the 2020 season as a backup in New Orleans.
Team: Cardinals (2019)Stats: 7,693 yards, 46 TDs, 24 INTsNext QB taken: Daniel Jones (No. 6)Lowdown: Murray is the first of three Heisman Trophy winners from Oklahoma on this list. Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury hitched his coaching future to the 5-foot-10 quarterback. Murray has shown promise through two seasons, and Arizona nearly made the playoffs in 2020. Murray also has 1,363 rushing yards and 15 TDs.
Team: Rams (2010)Stats: 19,449 yards, 103 TDs, 61 INTsNext QB taken: Tim Tebow (No. 25)Lowdown: Bradford won Rookie of the Year honors in 2010, but injuries derailed the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback’s career. Bradford has suffered a torn ACL in his left knee twice. He is generally considered one of the most overpaid quarterbacks of all time.
Team: Falcons (1975)Stats: 24,124 yards, 156 TDs, 144 INTsNext QB taken: Gary Sheide (No. 64)Lowdown: Bartkowski was a fixture in Atlanta through the mid-1980s, and he led the NFL with 31 TD passes in 1980. He became a much more accurate passer as his career progressed. He went 1-3 in four playoff appearances with Atlanta.
Team: Browns (No. 1)Stats: 11,115 yards, 75 TDs, 43INTsNext QB taken: Sam Darnold (No. 3)Lowdown: The third Oklahoma Heisman Trophy winner on this list, Mayfield set a rookie record with 27 TDs in 2018, but he endured a sophomore slump in 2019. Mayfield settled in with Kevin Stefanski in Year 3, and that produced an 11-5 record and run to the AFC Divisional playoffs. Mayfield threw 26 TDs and just eight interceptions in 2020. He’s moving up.
Team: Colts (1990)Stats: 27,602 yards, 154 TDs, 113 INTsNext QB taken: Andre Ware (No. 7)Lowdown: George was a legendary arm talent, and that allowed him to hang around in a league where he had a 46-78 record as starter. George led the NFL in passing yards in 1997 with the Raiders, and he had a fantastic 10-game stretch with the Vikings in 1998. George had a 1-2 record in three career playoff games.
Team: Bengals (2003)Stats: 46,247 yards, 294 TDs, 187 INTsNext QB taken: Byron Leftwich (No. 7)Lowdown: Palmer led the NFL in TD passes in 2005 with 32, but a devastating knee injury in the AFC wild-card game that season side-tracked what turned out to be an up-and-down 15-year career. Palmer was traded to the Raiders after threatening to retire in 2011. He later revived his career with the Cardinals and led a run to the NFC championship game in 2015.
Team: 49ers (2005)Stats: 35,650 yards, 199 TDs, 109INTsNext QB taken: Aaron Rodgers (No. 24)Lowdown: Smith’s career will forever be linked with Rodgers, who was taken 23 picks later. Smith’s career took off with coach Jim Harbaugh, and he led the 49ers to the NFC championship game in 2011. Smith then led the Chiefs to four playoff appearances. He suffered a gruesome leg injury in Washington in 2018. Smith returned to the field this season in a remarkable comeback story. He finished 5-1 as a starter for Washington in 2020.
Team: Rams (2016)Stats: 18,171 yards, 107 TDs, 55INTsNext QB taken: Carson Wentz (No. 2)Lowdown: Goff and Sean McVay led the Rams to an appearance Super Bowl 53. Goff put up big numbers, and he led the league with 626 pass attempts in 2019. He is 42-27 as a starter, but he was part of the first big trade of the 2021 offseason when Los Angeles sent him to Detroit for fellow former No. 1 pick Matthew Stafford.
Team: Buccaneers (1987)Stats: 46,233 yards, 275 TDs, 267 INTsNext QB taken: Kelly Stouffer (No. 6)Lowdown: Testaverde enjoyed a 21-year career that that progressed with age after a rough start in Tampa Bay. He was a Pro Bowl selection with the Ravens in 1996 and again with the Jets in 1998. He spent the last few years of his career as a backup, but he did make six starts with the Panthers at age 44 in 2007.
Team: Colts (2012)Stats: 23,671 yards, 171 TDs, 83 INTsNext QB taken: Robert Griffin III (No. 2)Lowdown: Luck enjoyed a solid career with Indianapolis, albeit one that was hampered by injuries. He led the Colts to the AFC championship game in 2014 in a season when he passed for 40 TDs. Luck was a four-time Pro Bowl selection who led Indianapolis back to the playoffs in 2018 before unexpectedly retiring before the 2019 season.
Team: Patriots (1993)Stats: 44,611 yards, 251 TDs, 206 INTsNext QB taken: Rick Mirer (No. 2)Lowdown: Bledsoe helped the Patriots on the road to respectability before Tom Brady took over. Bledsoe led an AFC championship run in 1996 and was a four-time Pro Bowl selection. He resurrected his career with the Bills and Cowboys and finished with a 4-3 record in the postseason.
Team: Lions (2009)Stats: 45,109 yards, 282 TDs, 144 INTsNext QB taken: Mark Sanchez (No. 5)Lowdown: Stafford was tasked with turning around a franchise that finished 0-16 in 2008, and he has done that over the last 11 seasons. Stafford has led the NFL in passing attempts twice, and he has taken the Lions to the playoffs three times. He has had an under-appreciated career given the circumstances in Detroit, and now he gets a new opportunity with the Los Angeles Rams in 2021.
Team: Falcons (2001)Stats: 22,464 yards, 133 TDs, 88 INTsNext QB taken: Drew Brees (No. 32)Lowdown: Vick was one of the most exciting players in NFL history. He is the all-time leader among quarterbacks with 6,109 rushing yards. He led the Falcons to the NFC championship game. Vick missed two seasons while serving a 21-month federal prison sentence, but he relaunched his career in Philadelphia with the same highlight-reel play. Vick retired in 2016.
Team: Patriots (1971)Stats: 25,882 yards, 164 TDs, 198 INTsNext QB taken: Archie Manning (No. 2)Lowdown: Plunkett was a Heisman Trophy winner at Stanford, but he struggled through five seasons with New England before a two-year stint in San Francisco. Plunkett, however, revived his career in his mid-30s as a two-time Super Bowl winner with the Raiders. He is the only eligible QB with multiple Super Bowl wins who isn’t in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Team: Chargers (2004)Stats: 57,023 yards, 366 TDs, 244 INTsNext QB taken: Philip RiversLowdown: Yes, the Chargers drafted Manning before one of the biggest draft-day trades in NFL history. Manning has the most passing yards and TDs of any quarterback on this list, and he took out the Patriots twice in the Super Bowl. He retired this offseason, and his career came with a .500 record as a starter. Is it enough to get Manning in Canton? Let the debate begin.
Team: Panthers (2011)Stats: 31,698 yards, 190 TDs, 118 INTsNext QB taken: Jake Locker (No. 8)Lowdown: Newton won the Heisman Trophy at Auburn in 2010, and he won the NFL Rookie of the Year award the following season. He is on pace to be the all-time leader among quarterbacks in rushing yards, and he put together an MVP season in leading the Panthers to Super Bowl 50 in 2015. He has an impressive resume, but injuries have plagued him over the last few seasons. Newton started for New England in 2020, but he struggled with just eight TDs and 10 interceptions.
Team: Cowboys (1989)Stats: 32,942 yards, 165 TDs, 141 INTsNext QB taken: Mike Elkins (No. 32)Lowdown: Aikman was one of the building blocks of the 1990s dynasty in Dallas, and he did that with steady play around a loaded roster. Aikman was a three-time Super Bowl champion who won Super Bowl 27 MVP honors. He was also a six-time Pro Bowl selection. He is one of four QBs on this list in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Team: Steelers (1970)Stats: 27,989 yards, 212 TDs, 210 INTsNext QB taken: Dennis Shaw (No. 30)Lowdown: The Steelers drafted the “Blonde Bomber” out of Lousiana Tech, and he became a franchise cornerstone on four Super Bowl-winning teams through the 1970s. Bradshaw led the league in TD passes twice, but it’s his 14-5 record in the postseason that stands out most.
Team: Colts (1983)Stats: 51,475 yards, 300 TDs, 226 INTsNext QB taken: Todd Blackledge (No. 7)Lowdown: Elway refused to play for the Colts, and he was traded to the Broncos. In Denver, he enjoyed a 16-year career that included nine Pro Bowl selections. Elway won NFL MVP in 1987 and led the Broncos to five Super Bowl appearances and back-to-back championships in 1997 and 1998. He would later sign the only quarterback ranked ahead of him on this list.
Team: Colts (1998)Stats: 71,940 yards, 539 TDs, 251 INTsNext QB taken: Ryan Leaf (No. 2)Lowdown: The Colts have taken four different QBs at No. 1, but none changed the game more than Manning, a five-time MVP and two-time Super Bowl champion. Manning set the single-season passing TD record on two occasions, and his final act with the Broncos ended with a Super Bowl. He is on the short list of greatest QBs ever to play.