One is higher than two. Gold is better than silver. If you're not first you're last.
While we'd like to think we can look at professional sports drafts and say the higher the pick, the better the player is going to be, this isn't always the case. Let's take a look back at the 1994 Draft for instance. Dan Wilkinson, a defensive tackle, was drafted first overall to the Cincinnati Bengals. Dan Wilkinson doesn't quite register right away to the casual fan. Well, a guy named Marshall Faulk went second overall and his name should ring a bell. All he did was win Offensive Player of the Year three times, was selected to seven Pro Bowls, won a Super Bowl with the Rams, and was eventually inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Now for every scenario like this, there is another one where the first-overall guy enjoyed a much more glorious career than number 2. The arguably biggest gap came in 1998 when Peyton Manning was selected by the Indianapolis Colts and Ryan Leaf was selected second by the San Diego Chargers. Peyton will go down as one of, if not the greatest, quarterback of all time and Ryan Leaf will mainly be known as "the guy who got picked after Manning."
All in all, there have been times where the first pick has been better and times when the second has been better. Let's take a look at the top two selections in the last 15 drafts and figure out how they stack up against each other each other.
30 Jared Goff And Carson Wentz (2016)
The Los Angeles Rams front office basically gave up their children to move up from the 15th overall pick to the number one spot and grab Goff. They traded a slew of picks to the Titans including their first-round pick in 2016, two second-round picks in 2016, a third- round pick in 2016, a first-round pick in 2017, and another third-round pick in 2017. All of this was given up for a guy who did not even come in and start day one. Goff would eventually play in seven games in 2016 and throw for 5 touchdowns and 7 interceptions.
29 Who Is Better?
After one season in the books this one isn’t that close at all. Wentz has started all 16 games and looks to be the franchise guy in Philadelphia. Goff, on the other hand, has only seen NFL action in seven games and didn’t look like a number one overall pick for most of that time. Granted, Wentz has walked into a much better situation than Goff as far as the talent around him is concerned.
28 Jameis Winston And Marcus Mariota (2015)
Unlike the 2016 draft, these first two picks were drafted straight up without being traded up to snag. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers held the first overall pick and it wasn’t very difficult to know the pick was going to be Jameis Winston, a Heisman winner and national champion from Florida State. Winston has taken the Buccaneers from drafting first overall to a borderline playoff team in just two seasons. Winston has thrown for over 4,000 yards in both seasons to go with 50 touchdowns and 33 interceptions. He has also rushed for 7 touchdowns.
27 Who Is Better?
This one is much closer than the 2016 draft. Both of these guys have been brought into losing teams and brought them up very quickly.
Again, according to NFL.com, Winston has a career completion percentage of 59.6 and a passer rating of 85.2. Mariota, on the flip side, has a career completion percentage of 61.6 and a passer rating of 93.8. Most of the time, the numbers don’t lie. However in this case don’t let them fool you.
26 Jadeveon Clowney And Greg Robinson (2014)
The Houston Texans held the first overall pick in 2014 and selected Jadeveon Clowney to no one's surprise. He was a once in a decade type of player that you simply could not pass up. He looked like a man among boys during his days at South Carolina. He dominated at the combine as well posting a 40-yard dash time of 4.53 seconds. That is close to defensive back speed and he is 6-5, 270 pounds.
Unfortunately, he only played in four games his first year in the league due to injury. However, in the past two seasons he has come along nicely. He isn't putting up numbers that would be expected with a number one pick, but he looks to be coming into this own three years into his career.
25 Who Is Better?
This is our first no brainer of the list ladies and gentlemen.
While Clowney is arguably not living up to his potential as the top pick, Robinson has disappointed much further and looks to be a bust so far. After not getting a sack his first year in the league, Clowney put up 4.5 in 2015 and six last year. If that's any indication, we may see him find double digits very soon.
24 Eric Fisher And Luke Joeckel (2013)
The 2013 Draft was the year of the tackle. Three of the top five picks were all tackles. The Kansas City Chiefs had the honor of selecting which one they felt was the best and they decided on Eric Fisher from Central Michigan. Some questioned the decision because of Central Michigan not being a big time school, but after a dominant Senior Bowl and combine, he was the pick. He has played in 59 of a possible 64 games since being drafted and has held his own for the most part. He struggled early in his career, but has come together for the most part.
23 Who Is Better?
While neither of these tackles look like future Hall of Famers just yet, they both have tremendous upside.
However, when you look at something as simple as how many games they've played, the clear edge goes to Eric Fisher. He simply has been on the field more and able to help his team. Luke Joeckel even recently has switched teams. The Seattle Seahawks snagged him this past offseason during free agency. When picking a guy second overall in the draft, you have plans to keep him on the roster for longer than four years.
22 Andrew Luck And Robert Griffin III (2012)
The Indianapolis Colts let Peyton Manning, arguably the greatest quarterback of all time, walk because they knew they were selecting first overall in the upcoming draft and that meant they would land Andrew Luck. To let a player of Manning's caliber walk, means the guy you plan to bring in must be something special. Well, Luck is indeed special. He has thrown for 19,078 yards, 132 touchdowns, and 68 picks while leading a Colts team with a revolving door as a defense.
21 Who Is Better?
Andrew Luck is the clear leader and franchise quarterback in Indianapolis and Robert Griffin III is currently unemployed.
20 Cam Newton And Von Miller (2011)
The Carolina Panthers desperately needed a franchise quarterback and were lucky enough to pick recent national champion from Auburn, Cam Newton. The combination of size and athleticism made him the clear number one overall pick. Newton exploded in his first year throwing for over 4,000 yards and 21 touchdowns. He also rushed for 14 touchdowns that year which is unheard of by a quarterback.
19 Who Is Better?
This one is a lot closer than some of the previous drafts we have discussed to this point.
It's still not that close though. While Newton has enjoyed a successful career to this point, Miller has enjoyed a much more successful one. Cam's numbers have gone up and down while Von's have been rock steady over six years. Newton led the Panthers to the Super Bowl in 2015 after an MVP season, but lost to you guessed it, the Broncos and eventual Super Bowl MVP, Von Miller. And we all remember how Miller gave Newton nightmares.
18 Sam Bradford And Ndamukong Suh (2010)
Before the Rams went all in on Jared Goff, they selected Heisman winning Oklahoma star, Sam Bradford. Bradford was expected to come in and be the guy to turn around the abysmal Rams. After a promising rookie year in which he threw for 3,512 yards and 18 touchdowns, the injury bug bit Bradford and never let go. Year after year Bradford battled injuries and would eventually find himself on the Philadelphia Eagles and now the Minnesota Vikings.
17 Who Is Better?
This is another one that boils down mainly to who has been on the field longer.
Sam Bradford has not lived up to his potential due largely in part to being hurt so often. We are still waiting to see just how good he can be seven years later because we haven't seen him finish seasons consistently. His 62.3 percent career completion percentage says he his accurate enough to succeed when he is on the field. However, his yardage doesn't stack up which paints the picture that he doesn't push the ball down the field.
16 Mathew Stafford And Jason Smith (2009)
Well, we have another no contest here.
The Detroit Lions needed a franchise quarterback and decided to take Mathew Stafford, the young gunslinger out of Georgia. That move is looking to be paying off quite nicely for the Lions thus far. It hasn't translated to playoff wins and titles, but Stafford is a clearly a franchise quarterback capable of getting the job done if given the right tools. He has thrown for over 30,000 yards already and 187 touchdowns.
15 Who Is Better?
There might be only one other duo on this list where the gap is larger than this one. Stay tuned.
Mathew Stafford is a franchise quarterback and has continued to carry a Lions team that was a laughing stock for years. Sure, he hasn't won a playoff game yet or won an MVP award but he has posted some unreal stats in his eight year career to this point. He has thrown for over 4,000 yards in six of those seasons and even over 5,000 in 2011. After losing Calvin Johnson in 2015, some believed he would fall off. Well, all he did in 2016 was statistically have his best season yet where he threw for 4,327 yards and 24 touchdowns with only 10 picks.
14 Jake Long And Chris Long (2008)
The Miami Dolphins chose Jake Long first overall and no one batted an eye. The Michigan tackle entered the NFL and became one of the premier left tackles in the game for four strong years. His play after that slowly started to decline due in large part to injuries. He hasn't completed a full season since 2010 and has only played in 15 games in the past three seasons. He has also been on three different teams in that span.
13 Who Is Better?
12 JaMarcus Russel And Calvin Johnson (2007)
Here it is folks. The largest gap on this list.
Remember when Mel Kiper Jr. said he thought JaMarcus Russel could be the next Joe Montana? Unfortunately, I think we all remember. To this day, I will not believe a word Kiper says. It's safe to say Russel will go down as one of the biggest if not the bust in NFL history. He was out of the league in just three short seasons where he only played in 31 games. He threw for 4,083 yards, 18 touchdowns, and 23 interceptions in his career. Fifth-round quarterbacks have put up better numbers in one season let alone the career of a number one overall pick.
11 Who Is Better?
Calvin Johnson has had more impressive single games than JaMarcus Russel's entire career was.
10 Mario Williams And Reggie Bush (2006)
Reggie Bush will always be remembered as one of the most explosive backs in college football history. However, the Houston Texans decided to select Mario Williams, the elite pass rusher out of North Carolina State and that turned out to be a pretty good move. Williams went on to have 53 sacks for the Texans over six seasons before being signed by the Buffalo Bills. He spent four seasons with the Bills and is now currently on the Miami Dolphins. He has enjoyed a very successful career for the most part.
9 Who Is Better?
While Reggie Bush has had some moments in the NFL, Mario Williams has clearly been more productive over time. Bush's best days are well behind him.
8 Alex Smith And Ronnie Brown (2005)
Alex Smith was taken over Aaron Rodgers. That will always be the talk of the 2005 draft.
We have all seen what Alex Smith has done and it doesn't come close to what Rodgers does. Alex Smith is the definition of a game managing quarterback. He won't do much to completely lose games for his team, but he also won't do much more to help them win. He has taken both the 49ers and Chiefs to the playoffs multiple times and blown it multiple times. He just doesn't seem to be able to get over the hump.
7 Who Is Better?
Neither one of these guys has really lived up to their position in the draft. It is tough to compare a running back and a quarterback because a running backs career lasts about less than half of that of a quarterback. Nonetheless, Alex Smith has been the better player.
6 Eli Manning And Robert Gallery (2004)
Ladies and gentlemen, another no brainer.
Eli Manning was drafted first overall by the New York Giants to be their franchise guy for years to come. He has done just that and more. He hasn't missed a game since he became the starter in his rookie season. He has been to four Pro Bowls and two Super Bowls where he was Super Bowl MVP both times. Who did he beat in those two Super Bowls? None other than the great Tom Brady. Say what you want about Eli manning, but he has two more rings than Dan Marino.
5 Who Is Better?
Now this isn't quite Calvin Johnson over JaMarcus Russel, but it's not that far off.
Eli Manning has brought the Giants two Super Bowls and continues to have them in contention. Gallery is not in the league anymore after a disappointing career. Manning has 48,214 yards and 320 touchdowns in his career thus far. If he is able to capture another ring, we may have to start the Hall of Fame talks. He may always be underneath his brother Peyton, but don't forget they both have the same amount of Super Bowls.
4 Carson Palmer And Charles Rogers (2003)
Well, we have another no contest here.
The former Heisman winner Carson Palmer was chosen first overall by the Cincinnati Bengals. He has had a very successful career to this point. He doesn't have a Super Bowl win and only one playoff win which is the main knock on him. To this point in his career, he has 44,269 yards and 285 touchdowns. That sounds like a decent career in my eyes.
3 Who Is Better?
Carson Palmer has thrown for more yards in single games than Rogers had receiving in his entire career.
This one is not close at all. While Palmer is regarded as not being able to win the big games, at least he is still in games. He has been in the league for 14 seasons which is the same number of receptions Rogers had in his final NFL season. Are you catching on yet? It's truly a shame that drugs got to Charles Rogers because he could have been something special.
2 David Carr And Julius Peppers (2002)
It's only fitting we end the list with another clear winner.
The Houston Texans desperately needed a franchise quarterback and believed they had their guy when they chose David Carr out of Fresno State with the first overall pick. If only they knew what they were getting themselves into. Carr underachieved in his career from day one. He just didn't transition to the NFL smoothly. After 2006, the Texans noticed this as well as they parted ways and Carr would go on to be a backup for the Panthers, Giants and briefly the 49ers. He is out of the NFL now and ended his career with 14,452 yards and 65 touchdowns.
1 Who Is Better?
In a close call the future Hall of Famer gets the edge over the biggest bust in Texan history.
David Carr never worked out in Texas or anywhere else in the NFL. He wasn't on the same level at JaMarcus Russel, but still a bust nonetheless. The Texans, actually, are still searching for their quarterback. It is crazy to think that they were able to find a guy like Arian Foster, who went undrafted, but they missed on the number one overall pick in the draft.
Julius Peppers has been dominating the NFL since his first season way back in 2002. He will be remembered as one of the best defensive players in NFL history. He hasn't missed many games at all from injury and has been consistent throughout. He has only had less than seven sacks one time in his 15 seasons. That is the definition of consistency.
Peppers over Carr in a landslide to close out the list.
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