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NFL: Top 5 NFL QBs drafted no. 1 overall 

NFL Draft
NFL Draft
Walter Sharp
Modified 31 Mar 2021
Top 5 / Top 10

The 2021 NFL Draft is now only 29 days away, and there is talent at the quarterback position.

There are five NFL quarterbacks who have been drafted no. 1 overall and went on to have successful careers. On that note, let's rank the top five NFL quarterbacks who heard their names called up with the no. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft.

#5 2004 NFL Draft: Eli Manning, QB, San Diego Chargers

Former NFL QB Eli Manning
Former NFL QB Eli Manning

Everyone remembers the 2004 NFL Draft. The San Diego Chargers selected Ole Miss quarterback Eli Manning, the brother of Peyton Manning. However, after being selected by the Chargers at no. 1, Eli Manning went public about not wanting to play for the Chargers.

The New York Giants came calling and made the biggest trade in NFL Draft history. Manning may have been selected by the Chargers, but he was only part of the franchise for 45 minutes. The Giants sent Philip Rivers to the Charges in exchange for Eli Manning, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Eli Manning went on to play 16 successful seasons with the New York Giants before retiring from the game in 2019.


Eli Manning's Career Stats

-- Completions: 4,895.

-- Attempts: 8,119.

-- Passing yards: 57,023.

-- Touchdowns: 366.

-- Interceptions: 244.

Manning won two Super Bowls with the New York Giants, with both wins coming against the Tom Brady-led Patriots. He won the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award in 2016 and was selected to four Pro Bowls.

#4 1989 NFL Draft: Troy Aikman, QB, Dallas Cowboys

Former NFL QB Troy Aikman
Former NFL QB Troy Aikman

The Dallas Cowboys selected UCLA quarterback Troy Aikman with the first overall pick in the 1989 NFL Draft.


Aikman was the first-ever pick by Jimmy Johnson and Jerry Jones. Aikman's NFL career didn't start out great, but as they say, it's not about how a player starts. It's about how they finish.

Troy Aikman lost 11 straight games to start his career with the Dallas Cowboys. But he turned things around in Dallas, winning three Super Bowl championships. He also posted an NFL playoff overall record of 11-5 as a starter for the Cowboys.

Troy Aikman's Career Stats

-- Completions: 2,898.

-- Attempts: 4,715.

-- Passing yards: 32,942.

-- Touchdowns: 165.

-- Interceptions: 141.

Many analysts say Troy Aikman is the most accurate intermediate thrower they've ever seen in the NFL.

#3 1970 NFL Draft: Terry Bradshaw, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers

Former NFL QB Terry Bradshaw
Former NFL QB Terry Bradshaw

The Pittsburgh Steelers drafted quarterback Terry Bradshaw with the no. 1 overall pick in the 1970 NFL Draft.

Like Troy Aikman, Terry Bradshaw also struggled at the beginning of his NFL career but started to improve towards the late 1970s.

Terry Bradshaw is on of only three NFL quarterbacks to win four Super Bowls. In fact, Terry Bradshaw was the first NFL quarterback to win four Super Bowls.

The Pittsburgh Steelers would not have won Super Bowls XIII and XIV without Terry Bradshaws' 300-yard passing games.

Terry Bradshaw's Career Stats

-- Completions: 2,025.

-- Attempts: 3,901.

-- Passing yards: 27,989.

-- Touchdowns: 212.

-- Interceptions: 210.


Terry Bradshaw threw one of the best passes in Super Bowl history during Super Bowl X when he hauled a 64-yard moon shot pass to Lynn Swann.

#2 1983 NFL Draft: John Elway, QB, Baltimore Colts

Former NFL QB John Elway
Former NFL QB John Elway

Before the Eli Manning situation, John Elway did the same thing to the Baltimore Colts during the 1983 NFL Draft.

Elway was drafted no 1 overall by the Colts but refused to play for them. That led to John Elway being traded to the Denver Broncos in May that year.

John Elway started five Super Bowls during his NFL career with the Denver Broncos.

Elway had two Super Bowl championships with the Broncos towards the end of his career. Some say that the two Super Bowl wins made John Elway the legend he is today.


John Elways' Career Stats

-- Completions: 4,123.

-- Attempts: 7,250.

-- Passing yards: 51,475.

-- Touchdowns: 300.

-- Interceptions: 226.

Outside the two Super Bowl championships, John Elway became the youngest quarterback to win the NFL MVP Award. He held that record till Patrick Mahomes surpassed him.

#1 1998 NFL Draft: Peyton Manning, QB, Indianapolis Colts

Former NFL QB Peyton Manning
Former NFL QB Peyton Manning

The Indianapolis Colts dodged a bullet by selecting Peyton Manning with the no. 1 overall pick instead of Ryan Leaf.

Manning started to adapt to the NFL towards the end of his rookie season. In just his second year, Peyton Manning was selected to the Pro Bowl and took the Colts to the playoffs.


Peyton Manning still ranks towards the top in all the NFL passing records. He won the Super Bowl with two different teams, doing so with the Colts before repeating the feat with the Denver Broncos before retiring.

Peyton Manning's Career Stats

-- Completions: 6,125.

-- Attempts: 9,380.

-- Passing yards: 71,940.

-- Touchdowns: 539.

-- Interceptions: 251.

Peyton Manning still holds the record for the most NFL MVP Awards (five). When it comes to the NFL quarterback position, it's hard not to talk about Manning.

Published 31 Mar 2021, 12:41 IST
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