Hits & misses: 63 years of No. 1 NFL draft picks

+-

How important is making the right call on the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft? Depends on who you ask. So let's take a trip through time, starting in 1954, and see which teams hit and which missed.

1954: BOBBY GARRETT, QB, Cleveland Browns The Stanford
(Credit: The Topps Company)

1954: BOBBY GARRETT, QB, Cleveland Browns
The Stanford All-American was traded to Green Bay early in training camp after coach Paul Brown learned that he struggled calling plays because of a stuttering problem. He played in nine games for the Packers (no starts) and was 15-for-30 for 143 yards and one INT.
Impact: Miss.

1955: GEORGE SHAW, QB, Baltimore Colts In eight
(Credit: AP)

1955: GEORGE SHAW, QB, Baltimore Colts
In eight seasons with four teams (Colts, Giants, Vikings, Broncos), Shaw started 29 of his 71 games played. He threw 41 career TDs and 63 INTs. He was 11-16-2 as a starter.
Impact: Miss.

1956: GARY GLICK, DB, Pittsburgh Steelers Seven seasons,
(Credit: The Topps Company)

1956: GARY GLICK, DB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Seven seasons, four teams, 14 career interceptions in 71 games. Offered little stats in the return game as well.
Impact: Miss.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISE HERE
1957: PAUL HORNUNG, HB, Green Bay Packers Hornung
(Credit: AP)

1957: PAUL HORNUNG, HB, Green Bay Packers
Hornung was a runner, receiver, passer and kicker from 1957-66. He was on the Super Bowl I roster but did not play because of a neck injury. Hornung was a two-time Pro Bowler, a two-time All-Pro and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1985.
Impact: Hit.

1958: KING HILL, QB, Chicago Cardinals In 1959,
(Credit: AP)

1958: KING HILL, QB, Chicago Cardinals
In 1959, Hill (above, right) started all 11 games. In 11 more seasons with four other teams, he never started more than five games a year. No matter which era it is, a No. 1 pick QB needs to do more.
Impact: Miss.

1959: RANDY DUNCAN, QB, Green Bay Packers The
(Credit: The Topps Company)

1959: RANDY DUNCAN, QB, Green Bay Packers
The QB from Iowa chose to play for Vancouver in the Canadian Football League, not an uncommon move then since he was offered more money. After two seasons, he played for the AFL's Dallas Texans and was 25-for-67 for 361 yards in 15 games.
Impact: Miss

1960: BILLY CANNON, RB, Los Angeles Rams Cannon
(Credit: AP)

1960: BILLY CANNON, RB, Los Angeles Rams
Cannon signed with the AFL's Houston Oilers and led the league in rushing in 1961 with 948 yards. He became a tight end when traded to the Oakland Raiders. He totaled 64 TDs and was a two-time Pro Bowler and first-team All-Pro.
Impact: Hit.

1961: TOMMY MASON, RB, Minnesota Vikings (NFL) Mason
(Credit: AP)

1961: TOMMY MASON, RB, Minnesota Vikings (NFL)
Mason (No. 20 above) played 11 seasons with three teams and totaled 8,081 all-purpose yards as a runner, receiver and returner. The first pick in Vikings history has 45 TDs -- and 61 fumbles. A three-time Pro Bowler, but as a No. 1 pick, more was needed.
Impact: Miss.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISE HERE
1961: BOB GAITERS, RB, Denver Broncos (AFL) Gaiters
(Credit: AP)

1961: BOB GAITERS, RB, Denver Broncos (AFL)
Gaiters (No. 35 in above photo) chose to play with the NFL's Giants, who drafted him No. 17 overall that same year. He came back to Denver in 1963, and in three seasons with three teams, he totaled 848 yards from scrimmage and eight TDs, but did average 23.8 yards on kickoffs.
Impact: Miss.

1962: ERNIE DAVIS, RB, Washington Redskins (NFL) Davis
(Credit: AP)

1962: ERNIE DAVIS, RB, Washington Redskins (NFL)
Davis was the first African-American to win the Heisman Trophy and the first to be drafted No. 1. His rights were traded to the Cleveland Browns, but Davis never played in the NFL. He was diagnosed with leukemia in 1962 and died on May 18, 1963.
Impact: Miss.

1962: ROMAN GABRIEL, QB, Oakland Raiders (AFL) Gabriel
(Credit: AP)

1962: ROMAN GABRIEL, QB, Oakland Raiders (AFL)
Gabriel was selected No. 2 overall by the Los Angeles Rams in that year's NFL draft and played 16 seasons with the Rams and Eagles. He was a four-time Pro Bowl quarterback who twice led the NFL in pass attempts and touchdowns.
Impact: Hit.

1963: TERRY BAKER, QB, Los Angeles Rams (NFL)
(Credit: AP)

1963: TERRY BAKER, QB, Los Angeles Rams (NFL)
In three seasons with the Rams, Baker appeared in 18 games and only started one. Drafted as a quarterback, Baker was used more as a runner (210 yards) and receiver (302) than a passer (154).
Impact: Miss.

1963: BUCK BUCHANAN, DT, Kansas City Chiefs (AFL)
(Credit: AP)

1963: BUCK BUCHANAN, DT, Kansas City Chiefs (AFL)
How do you judge a defensive tackle (pictured: No. 86 on top of pile) who played in an era when most current statistics weren't counted? Here's how: 13 seasons, 8 Pro Bowls, 4 first-team All-Pro selections and induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1990.
Impact: Hit.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISE HERE
1964: JACK CONCANNON, QB, Boston Patriots (AFL) Selected
(Credit: Chicago Tribune)

1964: JACK CONCANNON, QB, Boston Patriots (AFL)
Selected No. 1 in the AFL draft, Concannon chose to sign with the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles, who picked him in the second round. He appeared in 90 games in 10 NFL seasons and had a 54.8 passer rating.
Impact: Miss.

1964: DAVE PARKS, WR, San Francisco 49ers (NFL)
(Credit: The Topps Company)

1964: DAVE PARKS, WR, San Francisco 49ers (NFL)
Impact: In his second season, Parks led the league in receptions (80), receiving yards (1,344) and touchdowns (12), all of which were career highs. Parks played 10 seasons for the 49ers, Saints and Oilers, totaling 360 catches for 5,619 yards and 44 touchdowns and made three Pro Bowls.
Impact: Hit.

1965: TUCKER FREDERICKSON, RB, New York Giants (NFL)
(Credit: AP)

1965: TUCKER FREDERICKSON, RB, New York Giants (NFL)
Frederickson made the Pro Bowl as a rookie when he ran for 659 yards and five touchdowns as a fullback. In 66 games over six years before a knee injury forced his retirement, Frederickson never started one game and totaled 3,220 yards from scrimmage. Just not enough production from a No. 1 pick.
Impact: Miss.

1965: JOE NAMATH, QB, New York Jets (AFL)
(Credit: Icon SMI)

1965: JOE NAMATH, QB, New York Jets (AFL)
It was Namath who first ushered in the idea of athlete as celebrity. But on the field, he made nearly as large an impact. A five-time Pro Bowler and 1985 Hall of Fame inductee, Namath guaranteed his underdog Jets would beat the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III. Then he went out and did just that. He led the NFL three times in passing yards. In 13 NFL seasons (12 with the Jets), Namath threw 173 touchdown passes and ran for another seven. He also scored the first touchdown in NFL overtime history.
Impact: Hit.

1966: TOMMY NOBIS, LB, Atlanta Falcons (NFL) A
(Credit: AP)

1966: TOMMY NOBIS, LB, Atlanta Falcons (NFL)
A five-time Pro Bowl middle linebacker, Nobis had 12 interceptions and 13 fumble recoveries in his 11 seasons. Nobis was the first draft pick in franchise history and was named the NFL Rookie of the Year in 1966.
Impact: Hit.

1966: JIM GRABOWSKI, RB, Miami Dolphins (AFL) Grabowski
(Credit: AP)

1966: JIM GRABOWSKI, RB, Miami Dolphins (AFL)
Grabowski was also drafted No. 9 overall in the first round of the 1966 NFL Draft. He chose the NFL and scored 11 career touchdowns in six seasons.
Impact: Miss.

1967: BUBBA SMITH, DE, Baltimore Colts Before he
(Credit: AP)

1967: BUBBA SMITH, DE, Baltimore Colts
Before he was Hightower in the “Police Academy” movie franchise, Smith was a fearsome defensive end. He spent five seasons with the Baltimore Colts, winning the 1971 Super Bowl, and two seasons each with Oakland and Houston. Smith played in the era before sacks were officially counted. He often drew two blockers, but was still dominant enough to make two Pro Bowls and one All-Pro team. Impact: Hit.

1968: RON YARY, OT, Minnesota Vikings Yary spent
(Credit: AP)

1968: RON YARY, OT, Minnesota Vikings
Yary spent 14 of his 15 Hall-of-Fame seasons at right tackle for the Vikings and finished up with the L.A. Rams in 1982. Yary was named to six All-Pro teams and played in seven consecutive Pro Bowls from 1970-77.
Impact: Hit.

1969: O.J. SIMPSON, RB, Buffalo Bills In 1973,
(Credit: AP)

1969: O.J. SIMPSON, RB, Buffalo Bills
In 1973, Simpson became the first player in NFL history to rush for more than 2,000 yards in a season, and he did it in just 14 games. A six-time Pro Bowler and five-time All-Pro running back, “The Juice” totaled 11,236 career yards in 11 seasons, second highest in NFL history at the time (Now 18th after the 2011 season). Simpson led the NFL is rushing four times and wan inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1985.
Impact: Hit.

1970: TERRY BRADSHAW, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers Bradshaw only
(Credit: AP)

1970: TERRY BRADSHAW, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Bradshaw only threw for more than 3,000 yards twice in his 14-year career. Not so great, right? Yeah, well, he won four Super Bowls, went to three Pro Bowls and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1989.
Impact: Hit.

1971: JIM PLUNKETT, QB, New England Patriots In
(Credit: AP)

1971: JIM PLUNKETT, QB, New England Patriots
In 15 seasons with three teams, Plunkett never made it to a Pro Bowl. He's a career .500 quarterback, with more interceptions (198) than touchdowns (164). His 52.5 career completion percentage is below average at best. But he was 8-2 in the playoffs and led the Raiders to wins in Super Bowl XV and XVIII (1980, 1983). His passer rating in those two games was 122.8. Big-game player.
Impact: Hit.

1972: WALT PATULSKI, Defensive tackle, Buffalo Bills Drafted
(Credit: University of Notre Dame)

1972: WALT PATULSKI, Defensive tackle, Buffalo Bills
Drafted out of Notre Dame, pictured above, Patulski played four years with the Bills, then one year with the St. Louis Cardinals before a knee injury ended his career. His statistics were so-so, amassing a sack total in the low 20s.
Impact: Miss.

1973: JOHN MATUSZAK, DE, Houston Oilers He played
(Credit: AP)

1973: JOHN MATUSZAK, DE, Houston Oilers
He played for nine seasons with three different teams, ending up with the Oakland Raiders. Matuszak won two Super Bowls (XI and XV) with Oakland, but was more known for his excessive drug use and partying ways. Aside from his role as "Sloth" in the 1985 kid adventure movie "The Goonies," Matuszak's tale is more cautionary that praiseworthy.
Impact: Miss

1974: ED
(Credit: AP)

1974: ED "TOO TALL" JONES, DE, Dallas Cowboys
Twenty years after he retired, he was featured in a Geico commercial. Talk about impact! On the field, the 6-foot-9 Jones dominated as a defensive end. He's one of only three Cowboys to last 15 or more seasons in Dallas. The three-time Pro Bowler also helped lead the "Doomsday Defense" to a win in Super Bowl XII.
Impact: Hit.

1975: STEVE BARTKOWSKI, QB, Atlanta Falcons Bartkowski last
(Credit: Getty)

1975: STEVE BARTKOWSKI, QB, Atlanta Falcons
Bartkowski last 12 years in the NFL and made two Pro Bowls. But he only led the Falcons to the playoffs three times and went 1-3. His passer rating in the playoffs was 20 points lower than in the regular season. In 1980, he led the NFL with 31 touchdown passes. In 1983, his 97.3 passer rating led the NFL. In 1984, he led the NFL with a 67.3 completion percentage. Just not enough good seasons all around.
Impact: Miss.

1976: LEE ROY SELMON, DE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
(Credit: AP)

1976: LEE ROY SELMON, DE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Selmon was the first-ever draft pick by the Buccaneers, and despite the franchise's rocky start, he was a star. A back injury ended his career prematurely in 1985, but this Hall-of-Fame defensive end made six Pro Bowls in nine seasons and was the unanimous winner of the 1979 NFL defensive player of the year.
Impact: Hit.

1977: RICKY BELL, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers The
(Credit: AP)

1977: RICKY BELL, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The best of Bell's six seasons came in 1979 as the Bucs actually won their division. Bell ran for 1,239 yards and seven touchdowns. His career totals, however were 3,063 yards and 16 touchdowns. Bell died in 1984, two years after his last game, due to heart failure brought on by dermatomyositis.
Impact: Miss.

1978: EARL CAMPBELL, RB, Houston Oilers Campbell ran
(Credit: AP)

1978: EARL CAMPBELL, RB, Houston Oilers
Campbell ran hard. That likely cut his career short, but in eight seasons, he made five Pro Bowls and rushed more than 1,300 yards those years. In 1979, he had 19 rushing TDs. In 1980, he ran for 1,934 yards. In 1985, he retired. In 1991, he became a Hall-of-Famer.
Impact: Hit.

1979: TOM COUSINEAU, LB, Buffalo Bills Cousineau
(Credit: San Francisco 49ers)

1979: TOM COUSINEAU, LB, Buffalo Bills
Cousineau was drafted by the Bills but never played for them, instead signing with the Montreal Alouettes of the CFL. He returned to the NFL in 1982, playing four seasons with the Cleveland Browns and two with the San Francisco 49ers. His biggest impact on the league? The Bills, who still owned Cousineau's rights, traded him to Cleveland for their No. 1 pick in 1983 (14th overall). That turned out to be franchise QB and future Hall-of-Famer Jim Kelly.
Impact: Miss.

1980: BILLY SIMS, RB, Detroit Lions A knee
(Credit: Getty Images)

1980: BILLY SIMS, RB, Detroit Lions
A knee injury ended what was a promising five-year career for Sims. He ran for more than 1,000 yards three times and went to three Pro Bowls. He also scored 13 TDs in first two years, but the shortened career for a No. 1 pick hurts his cause.
Impact: Miss

1981: GEORGE ROGERS, RB, New Orleans Saints As
(Credit: Allsport)

1981: GEORGE ROGERS, RB, New Orleans Saints
As a rookie, led the NFL with 1,674 rushing yards. In 1986, he led the NFL with 18 touchdowns. He amassed 7,176 rushing yards, 54 touchdowns and two Pro Bowl selections in seven seasons.
Impact: Hit

1982: KENNETH SIMS, DT, New England Patriots Played
(Credit: Getty Images)

1982: KENNETH SIMS, DT, New England Patriots
Played in just 74 games over eight seasons and totaled only 17 sacks.
Impact: Miss

1983: JOHN ELWAY, QB, Baltimore Colts Refused to
(Credit: Getty Images)

1983: JOHN ELWAY, QB, Baltimore Colts
Refused to play for the Colts, then was traded to the Denver Broncos. Well, 300 TDs, 51,475 passing yards and two Super Bowl rings later, he became the third QB taken No. 1 overall to reach the Hall of Fame.
Impact: Hit

1984: IRVING FRYAR, WR, New England Patriots A
(Credit: Allsport)

1984: IRVING FRYAR, WR, New England Patriots
A 17-year veteran with five Pro Bowl nods, Fryar is tied for 14th all-time with 84 receiving TDs. His 12,785 career receiving yards is 13th all-time.
Impact: Hit

1985: BRUCE SMITH, DE, Buffalo Bills The all-time
(Credit: AP)

1985: BRUCE SMITH, DE, Buffalo Bills
The all-time NFL leader in sacks with 200, Smith was a beast on the D-line. He terrorized opposing linemen every week.
Impact: Hit

1986: BO JACKSON, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Yes,
(Credit: AP)

1986: BO JACKSON, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Yes, he ran over the Boz and was the greatest video game character ever, but he also only played four seasons, all for the Los Angeles Raiders. Those seasons were split with his baseball duties for Kansas City. Arguably the greatest pure athlete of the 1980s and '90s, he could have been the best RB ever if he played full-time and didn't injure his hip.
Impact: Miss

1987: VINNY TESTAVERDE, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers A
(Credit: Allsport)

1987: VINNY TESTAVERDE, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
A native Long Islander with a cannon for an arm, "Yo Vinny" is 7th all-time with 46,223 passing yards and 8th all-time with 275 TDs. But he's 90-123-1 as a starter, which will happen when you play six years for Tampa Bay in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Impact: Hit

1988: AUNDRAY BRUCE, LB, Atlanta Falcons Played 11
(Credit: Allsport)

1988: AUNDRAY BRUCE, LB, Atlanta Falcons
Played 11 seasons for Atlanta and Oakland, but only started 42 of the 151 games he played. His 32 sacks and 4 interceptions for his career highlight the lack of expectation.
Impact: Miss

1989: TROY AIKMAN, QB, Dallas Cowboys Gets knocked
(Credit: AP)

1989: TROY AIKMAN, QB, Dallas Cowboys
Gets knocked for his average numbers playing alongside great teams. Here's what matters: 6 Pro Bowls, 3 Super Bowls and the second QB to be drafted No. 1 overall and reach the Hall of Fame.
Impact: Hit

1990: JEFF GEORGE, QB, Indianapolis Colts Was 46-78
(Credit: Allsport)

1990: JEFF GEORGE, QB, Indianapolis Colts
Was 46-78 as a starter in 12 seasons with five teams. Cannon for an arm, but had an attitude and a bad mustache.
Impact: Miss

1991: RUSSELL MARYLAND, DT, Dallas Cowboys Played 10
(Credit: AP)

1991: RUSSELL MARYLAND, DT, Dallas Cowboys
Played 10 seasons and made one Pro Bowl. As a run-stuffer, pretty good. Elsewhere, he had 375 tackles and 24.5 sacks career. Not bad.
Impact: Hit

1992: STEVE EMTMAN, DT, Indianapolis Colts Hey, remember
(Credit: Getty Images)

1992: STEVE EMTMAN, DT, Indianapolis Colts
Hey, remember that 90-yard interception return to beat the Dolphins his rookie year? In 50 games over six seasons, that's about it.
Impact: Miss

1993: DREW BLEDSOE, QB, New England Patriots Played
(Credit: AP)

1993: DREW BLEDSOE, QB, New England Patriots
Played 14 years for three teams and threw for more than 4,000 yards three times. His 251 TD total is 13th on the all-time list. Will probably be most remembered by Jets fans as the guy who got hurt and let Tom Brady become Tom Brady.
Impact: Hit

1994: DAN WILKINSON, DT, Cincinnati Bengals A solid
(Credit: Getty Images)

1994: DAN WILKINSON, DT, Cincinnati Bengals
A solid run clogger in the middle, Wilkinson amassed 54.5 sacks in 13 NFL seasons. Not too shabby.
Impact: Hit

1995: KI-JANA CARTER, RB, Cincinnati Bengals Signed what
(Credit: Getty Images)

1995: KI-JANA CARTER, RB, Cincinnati Bengals
Signed what was then then biggest contract for a rookie (7 years, $19.2 million with a $7.152 million bonus), then blew out his knee in the preseason. Was in the NFL for seven seasons but totaled just 1,144 rushing yards.
Impact: Miss

1996: KEYSHAWN JOHNSON, WR, New York Jets Controversial,
(Credit: AP)

1996: KEYSHAWN JOHNSON, WR, New York Jets
Controversial, no doubt, but a very talented receiver. Had 814 receptions in 11 seasons, plus 66 touchdowns (2 rushing), 3 Pro Bowl selections and 1 Super Bowl ring.
Impact: Hit

1997: ORLANDO PACE, OT, St. Louis Rams A
(Credit: AP)

1997: ORLANDO PACE, OT, St. Louis Rams
A 13-year stint as one of the pre-eminent left tackles in the NFL.
Impact: Hit

Show More

Enter your email address to subscribe to Newsday's Sports Now newsletter

Related Media

Oregon's Marcus Mariota warms up for the Valero Nick Klopsis' NFL mock draft 1996: CEDRIC JONES, Defensive end, Oklahoma Drafted: First Hit or miss: Giants 1st-round picks since 1986 1989: JEFF LAGEMAN, Linebacker, Virginia Drafted: First round, Hit or miss: Jets' 1st-round picks since 1986

Comments

Newsday.com now uses Facebook for our comment boards. Please read our guidelines and connect your Facebook account to comment.