Ranking the Last 20 Heisman Winners

The Heisman Trophy is the ultimate symbol of success in college football, and winning it means you have taken your place among the gods of the second most popular sports league in America (NCAA Division I football). However, it doesn’t mean that you will have guaranteed success in the country’s most popular sports league, the NFL.

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, there were a lot of Heisman winners that found NFL success and got themselves into both the pro football and college football halls of fame. Some of these guys include Barry Sanders, Tim Brown, Bo Jackson, Tony Dorsett and Earl Campbell. Throughout the last 20 years, though, Heisman winners have had a bit of a tough time trying to establish great NFL careers.

Between 1994 and 2004, there is only one player that appears that he is headed to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton. As for the 19 others, there were some good careers, but a lot of have been pretty uninspiring. If you were to take the last 20 Heisman trophy winners and rank them by their NFL accomplishments, how would it work out? We assembled the top 20 (more like the top 18, and you’ll see why). This list features some names that you might have forgotten about along the way.

The first two picks in this year's NFL Draft were both Heisman winners and there are already people questioning whether the two will have a successful career at the next level. The track record of recent Heisman winners have forced fans to be skeptical of those who had great college success.

20 *20. Incomplete - Marcus Mariota (2014)

Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

19 *19. Incomplete - Jameis Winston (2013)

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

18 Jason White (2003)


17 Eric Crouch


16 Johnny Manziel (2012)

Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

15 Troy Smith (2006)


14 Rashaan Salaam (1994)

Jonathan Daniel /Allsport

13 Danny Wuerffel (1996)


12 Chris Weinke (2000)


11 Matt Leinart (2004)

Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

10 Tim Tebow (2007)

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

9 Ron Dayne (1999)


8 Mark Ingram (2009)

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

7 Robert Griffin III

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

6 Sam Bradford

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

5 Ricky Williams


4 Cam Newton

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

3 Carson Palmer

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

2 Eddie George


1 Charles Woodson

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Charles Woodson was a rare defensive selection for Heisman when he helped the Michigan Wolverines earn a share of the national title after the 1997 season. Woodson was noted for his athleticism because he was able to play on both sides of the ball, in addition to returning kicks and punts. Woodson was selected fourth overall by the Raiders in the 1998 NFL Draft, and is the only other active player besides Peyton Manning from that class.

Woodson has been named to eight Pro Bowls, seven All-Pro teams and was the 2009 Defensive Player of the Year. As a member of the 2000s All-Decade Team, Woodson added a Super Bowl ring to his legacy by helping the Packers win Super Bowl XLV. It’s hard to debate that his pro career is the best for a Heisman winner in the last 20 years.

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Ranking the Last 20 Heisman Winners