Yes, it’s very early to say for sure, but there’s a good reason why Lawrence is already high on this list. It’s amazing how quickly the Jaguars’ fortunes turned around with the former Clemson star under center. He was the most-coveted college quarterback since Andrew Luck when Jacksonville made him the first overall draft pick.
However, his rookie season was a nightmare because the Jags appointed Urban Meyer as head coach. This disastrous move set them back but they bounced back in his sophomore year. Doug Pedersen’s guidance transformed Lawrence’s confidence and he helped the franchise back into the playoffs (via The Athletic).
Garrett is one of the best defensive players in the NFL today. Arguably, only Aaron Donald and T.J. Watt have been more impressive than Garrett at his peak. There were indeed initial doubts about him but Garrett squashed these. Yes, he occasionally blows up as Mason Rudolph discovered, but he’s an animal on his day.
Those days come very often because Garrett is a four-time Pro Bowler as well as a two-time All-Pro selection. He even performs well when the Browns don’t produce good results as we saw in 2022. The defensive end was the first overall draft pick in 2017 and now he is going from strength to strength (via Cleveland.com).
Stafford spent a decade in with Detroit as one of the league’s most underrated quarterbacks. It says a lot about his talents that Lions fans mourned when he left but they also gave him their blessings. The Rams brought him to the West Coast in 2021 as they attempted to buy a Super Bowl (via L.A. Times).
They recognized that Stafford wasn’t the flashiest quarterback in the NFL but he was consistent. In the end, he did enough to help win the Vince Lombardi Trophy. The Lions made Stafford the first overall draft pick in 2009 after he impressed for Georgia. He’s undeniably one of the best number-one draft picks of the century so far.
Burrow shows exactly why franchises desperately pursue elite college quarterbacks. He arrived in the NFL after one of the best college seasons ever with LSU. The Bengals made him the first-overall draft pick and dropped him in the deep end. His first season was a mixed bag because he played well but took too many sacks (via Sporting News).
In the end, an ACL year cut his rookie year short. Perhaps this was a blessing in disguise because it took him off the front line. Then the Bengals began to protect him properly and he helped them to a rare Super Bowl appearance. His bond with Ja’Marr Chase is one of the most exciting in football today. Now the Bengals are a serious proposition because of his influence.
Yes, Newton’s career suffered a major nosedive but it’s wrong to ignore everything he achieved before this. The former Panthers star had an amazing 2015 season as he won the MVP award. He helped the franchise to a Super Bowl appearance and was one of the most exciting quarterbacks of the decade.
Sadly, injuries slowed him down but he had an amazing impact on Carolina’s fortunes. Newton threw for a ludicrous 4000 yards in his rookie year and rushed like a bull. He also made three Pro Bowl appearances and was a first-team All-Pro selection in 2015. There’s no denying that he was a special player in his prime (via NFL.com).
There’s no doubt that Manning was the most successful top overall draft pick since 2000. Some people question his Hall of Fame credentials and if he was an elite quarterback. None of that matters to the New York Giants because he helped them to two Super Bowl victories. Manning also came up clutch in both of those games as he proved his winning mentality.
No, he didn’t have his older brother’s natural talent but he still has two Super Bowl rings, and over the Patriots. He also did more in those games to earn them than Peyton did. It’s funny that in another life he could have played for the Chargers. San Diego had the number one draft pick but Manning refused to go there after the Ryan Leaf debacle (via Forbes).