While we won't know who the Cleveland Browns pick for a few months, and we won't know who is the better quarterback for a lot longer, we can look back at quarterbacks taken with the top pick in past NFL Drafts.
Over the last 35 years, 19 quarterbacks have heard their name called as the No. 1 pick in the Draft, including Hall of Famers like John Elway, Peyton Manning and Troy Aikman, and busts like JaMarcus Russell, Tim Couch and David Carr.
General managers and coaches have lost their job over such failures. Others have hoisted the Vince Lombardi trophy, largely due to nailing the pick.
The starting point is 1983, because it makes for a nice 35-year window. Also, because it is arguably the best quarterback draft class ever.
Here's how the last 19 quarterbacks taken with the No. 1 overall pick rank.
19. JaMarcus Russell
Russell had one phenomenal year at LSU in 2006 and it was enough to entice Oakland to use the number one pick on him. Things started off bad when Russell held out for more money, playing in only four games his rookie year. It only got worse.
He showed hints of maybe being a player in the league in his second year. Russell threw 13 touchdowns and eight interceptions in 15 starts. In 2009, however he finished with the lowest quarterback rating, lowest completion percentage, fewest passing touchdowns, and fewest passing yards among qualifying quarterbacks in the NFL.
He never played another down.
18. David Carr
There are still many who believe Carr could have been a decent quarterback in the league had he landed somewhere that didn't invite defensive players into the backfield like a neighborhood cookout.
Carr was sacked 76 times his rookie year. In 2006, he led the league in completion percentage but the Texans were never able to win.
Carr was released the following offseason and played three more years. He did get a Super Bowl ring as a backup for another No. 1 pick, Eli Manning.
17. Tim Couch
Couch was expected to be the Browns' savior when he was chosen first in 1999. He would throw 15 touchdowns his rookie year, despite being sacked a league-high 56 times. Four years later, he led the Browns to their first and only playoff game.
Unfortunately, Couch broke his leg in the season finale. A year later, Kelly Holcombe took his job. By 2004, he was out of the league.
16. Sam Bradford
While there have been moments of Bradford flashing the tools that made him the highest paid rookie in NFL history, injuries have kept him from fully reaching his potential. He is with his third team in eight years and has failed to make the postseason as a starter. In 2016, he led the league in completion percentage, having his best year as a pro.
In 2017, he was injured after throwing for 346 yards and three touchdowns in the season opener.
15. Jameis Winston
2017 was supposed to be a breakout year for the former Heisman winner. Instead Winston set career lows in passing yards and touchdowns. He has amassed a career record of 18-27 in three seasons.
The Bucs have made it clear that they are riding with Winston, establishing weapons to surround the quarterback. Tampa also has stuck with head coach Dirk Koetter with the hopes that the two could forge a long lasting relationship, and eat a lot of Ws.
14. Jeff George
Former Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator June Jones once said Jeff George was the greatest talent he'd ever coached. It should be mentioned that Jones also coached Hall of Famer, Jim Kelly. The problem wasn't the talent, but rather everything else. In 12 years in the NFL and eight different teams, George only had 3 winning seasons.
George led the league in passing once, but never delivered for the Colts who took him No. 1 overall.
13. Vinny Testaverde
While many will remember Testaverde's tenure with the Jets at the ripe old age of 35, his start in the NFL was shaky at best. Testaverde led the league in interceptions his second and third year in the league. His 35 interceptions in 1988 ranks second all-time.
Tampa Bay gave him six years to produce as their number one pick in 1987 and his overall record with the Bucs was 24-48. Testaverde played 19 seasons in the NFL, none of his best seasons coming with Tampa.
12. Jared Goff
Many had pegged Goff to rival Russell and Carr for all-time busts, but he turned it around in 2017. The Rams had the league's best offense. Goff was 10th in passing yards, and fifth in touchdown passes.
Goff's first two seasons in the NFL have been that of two extremes. Although many in Los Angeles believe they have the quarterback of the present and future.
11. Matt Stafford
In the offseason leading up to the 2017 season, Stafford signed the richest deal in NFL history. Stafford is 0-3 in the playoffs. Which is to say Stafford has been good, but not great. He's averaged around 30 touchdowns a year with a career-high of 41 in 2011. Stafford's career mark is 60-65, but 36-28 in his last four seasons.
While he hasn't had the success and production as some of the other names on this list, the investment the Lions made in Stafford prove how the team views him, and in the end that's all that matters when analyzing the return on a top pick.
10. Andrew Luck
Luck started his professional career with three straight trips to the playoffs and 11-5 records. He made the Pro Bowl each year. Threw 40 touchdowns in 2014 to lead the league, while also making the AFC championship game. Led one of the greatest comebacks in postseason history in 2013.
Since then, Luck has played 22 games in three years and there is a growing concern that he might be done. Forever. If he returns and regains his prior form, the Colts and their fans hope he'll also repeat his performance that had many believing his career would end in Canton.
9. Alex Smith
There have been plenty of naysayers over Smith's 12-year career: He doesn't throw deep, he's a game-manager, etc, etc. The truth is he has won 58 percent of his games. He has either led or helped lead his team to the playoffs six different times.
Only twice in his career has he thrown more interceptions than touchdowns and he's thrown single-digit interceptions his last seven seasons. Many will look at the first two quarterbacks taken in the 2005 draft and compare Smith to Aaron Rodgers and see a sizable difference in talent, expectations and results.
To be frank, Smith is not the best quarterback to come out of that draft. He's also not a bust.
When Palmer took over the reigns in Cincinnati after sitting out his rookie year, he was part of a grander scheme that was supposed to change the culture of one of the most depressing franchises in recent history.
His second year starting he led the Bengals to an 11-5 record while leading the league in touchdowns. Palmer would connect on his first postseason throw, but also blow out his knee.
Palmer's career since than has been a topsy-turvy ride that has witnessed Palmer demand a trade from Cincinnati, fizzle out in Oakland only to resurrect his career in Arizona. Palmer retired after the 2017 season only making the playoffs on three occasions. He currently ranks 12th all-time in touchdown passes and has the 19th best career passer rating.
7. Drew Bledsoe
The top pick out of Washington State helped New England create a winning culture that continues to this day. In just his second year in the league, Bledsoe led the Patriots back to the postseason for the first time in nine years.
That season, 1994, Bledsoe also led the league in passing yards. In 1996, Bledsoe would take the Patriots to the Super Bowl, losing to Brett Farvre and the Green Bay Packers.
Bledsoe would eventually be replaced by Tom Brady, but not before leading the Patriots to victory one last time in the 2001 AFC championship game. Bledsoe's been to four Pro Bowls, ranks 14th all-time in career passing yards and 21st in career touchdowns.
6. Michael Vick
There's only a handful of players who could get a 60-thousand seat stadium to collectively hold their breath at the same time, Michael Vick was one of them. While other run-oriented quarterbacks have come into the league and succeeded, no one did it with as much fan-fare and draw-dropping skill as Vick.
He is the only player to secure two separate $100 million dollar contracts. His 7.0 career yards per rush average is the best in the NFL's history. Vick's the only quarterback to ever rush for over 6,000 yards in his career.
5. Cam Newton
In seven short years, Newton has become one of the most dangerous dual threat quarterbacks in the history of professional football. Newton is the first player in NFL history to pass for 20,000 yards and rush for 3,000 yards in his first six seasons. He is also the fifth-youngest quarterback in NFL history to surpass 20,000 yards passing.
Manning also has won one NFL MVP, taken his team to a Super Bowl and owns the league record for most career rushing touchdowns by a quarterback.
4. Eli Manning
Manning made news before the draft when he and his family said he would not sign with the Chargers, who had the first pick. San Diego drafted him anyway before trading his rights to the Giants.
Over his career Manning has led New York to two upset Super Bowl victories over the Patriots, winning Super Bowl MVP in both. He ranks sixth in career passing yards and eighth in passing touchdowns.
3. Troy Aikman
Aikman and the Cowboys were the team of the 90s. Over his Hall of Fame career, Aikman did not wow you with stats, but rather by putting together a five-year stretch few could match. 56 wins, three Super Bowl victories, one Super Bowl MVP, and five Pro Bowls.
2. John Elway
Much like Eli Manning, Elway flat out refused to play for the Baltimore Colts, who–just like the Chargers–chose Elway anyway. When the Colts finally found a suitor and shipped him off to the Broncos, Elway helped turn the Broncos into a perennial Super Bowl contender. In 16 seasons, Elway led 47 fourth quarter comebacks, while going to five Super Bowls, winning two and one Super Bowl MVP.
He was named the league's MVP in 1987. Conductor of "The Drive," when he retired he was second all-time in passing yards and completions.
1. Peyton Manning
Peyton Manning set the rookie record for interceptions with 28 in his initial season, and it wouldn't be the last record he'd set. Over his 17-year career, Manning has won two Super Bowls, one Super Bowl MVP and five regular-season MVPs. He is the career passing yards leader as well as career touchdowns leader.
Here's a list of all his accomplishments.
- NFL career passing touchdown record: 539
- Most passing yards, career: 71,940
- Single season touchdown record (2013): 55
- Most passing yards, season (2013): 5,477
- Most wins (including playoffs): 200
- Most games throwing for 300 yards: 93
- Most passing touchdowns in a single game (tied, 2013): 7
- Most games with a passing rating higher than 105: 97
- Most games with a perfect passer rating of 158.3: 5
- Most seasons with 350 completions: 10
- Most games completing 80-percent passing: 19
- Most game-winning drives: 56 Most comeback wins: 45
- Highest completion percentage in a postseason game with 450 yards (2005): 81.8
- Highest yards-per-game, season (2013): 342.31
- Most games with 4 touchdown passes: 25
- Most seasons passing for 4,000 yards: 14
- Most consecutive seasons with 25 touchdowns: 13
- One of two quarterbacks to ever beat all 32 teams (along with Brett Favre)
- First quarterback to beat 31 franchises: 2007
- Most Associated Press NFL MVP awards: 5 (2003, 2004, 2008, 2009, 2013)