Over the past 20 years, using a top 10 pick on a quarterback has resulted in mixed success for the player and team. Only two QBs that were chosen in the top 10 between 1994 and 2013 have managed to win a Super Bowl, though a few others have at least played in the big game. But the list is also littered with several busts. -- By Ken Hornack
Heath Shuler (third pick, 1994, Washington Redskins)
The Redskins had plummeted from a Super Bowl winner to a team which finished 4-12, and Norve Turner had just been hired as its third head coach in as many years. Shuler was supposed to be the heir to Mark Rypien. Instead, he floundered on a 3-13 team and lost his starting job to Gus Frerotte. He was even more of a disaster in 1997 with the New Orleans Saints, intercepted 14 times while throwing only two touchdowns with a passer rating of 46.6. He lasted longer in Congress as a Democratic representative from North Carolina (2007-2013) than he did in the NFL.
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Trent Dilfer (sixth pick, 1994, Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
Considering what a track wreck his first two years with the Bucs were (five TDs, 24 interceptions), Dilfer did well enough to stay in the league for 13 seasons. And no one can take away the Super Bowl ring he won in his one year with the Ravens. But with the possible exception of Brad Johnson, he is the least accomplished quarterback to belong to the same fraternity as Joe Montana, Terry Bradshaw, Bart Starr, Troy Aikman and so on. He went back to being no better than average at Seattle, Cleveland and San Francisco before moving into broadcasting.
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Steve McNair (third pick, 1995, Houston Oilers)
Five years after being taken, he led the now-Tennessee Titans into Jacksonville and was a main reason why they crushed the Jaguars 33-14 in the AFC championship game. In 2006, he still had enough left in the tank to help the Baltimore Ravens go 13-3 during the regular season. He threw for more than 31,000 yards and also ran for 37 touchdowns – who else remembers his 71-yarder at Tampa in 1998 which clinched a victory over the Buccaneers? – during a 13-year career which began with him backing up Chris Chandler in Houston.
To last 17 years in the league is a tribute to Collins' resilience. That included leading the Giants to the NFC championship in 2000 and having a turn-back-the-clock season with the Titans in 2008. But his time with the Panthers was rocky, and his performance against the Ravens in Super Bowl XXXV was one of the worst by a starting quarterback in Super Bowl history. His last hurrah came when he started three games for the Colts the year before they drafted Luck.
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Peyton Manning (first pick, 1998, Indianapolis Colts)
After a two-year stretch where the pickings were truly slim (Jim Druckenmiller, Tony Banks, Bobby Hoying), the Colts picked the right time to be coming off a 3-13 season. What tends to be forgotten is they were just as bad in Manning’s first year as he threw a league-worst 28 interceptions as well as for 3,739 yards. The rest, as they say, is history. He has broken numerous NFL passing records while leading the Colts to two Super Bowls, including a victory in Super Bowl XLI. A neck injury nearly ended his career, but after missing the entire 2011 season, he joined the Denver Broncos in 2012 and in 2013 threw for an NFL record 55 TD passes and 5,477 yards.
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Ryan Leaf (second pick, 1998, San Diego Chargers)
Coming out of Washington State, where he was the star of the Cougars' first Rose Bowl appearance in ages, Leaf was thought of more highly by some experts than Peyton Manning, whose inability to beat Florida had been well-documented. Let the record show that Leaf finished his career with 14 touchdowns and 36 interceptions and had a 4-17 record as a starter over a combined three years with the Chargers and the Dallas Cowboys. Until not long ago, he was the standard by whom busts at quarterback were measured.
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Tim Couch (first pick, 1999, Cleveland Browns)
When the Browns returned as an expansion franchise, they tried not to subject the former Kentucky star to the pressures of starting right away behind a ragtag offensive line. The intentions were good, but the execution left much to be desired. Couch was sacked a total of 147 times during his first four seasons, and when the Browns made the playoffs for what remains the only time since the original franchise bolted for Baltimore, it was with Kelly Holcomb at the controls. Couch was done by the time he turned 27.
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Donovan McNabb (second pick, 1999, Philadelphia Eagles)
A pick which was lustily booed by Eagles fans who wanted running back Ricky Williams instead, McNabb and coach Andy Reid became all but joined at the hip for 11 years. You can quibble with the NFC championship game losses at home to the Bucs and the Carolina Panthers, and with good reason. But it had been nearly a quarter-century since the Eagles last reached the Super Bowl until he helped them earn a trip to Jacksonville -- yes, Jacksonville -- in 2004. The less said about his years in Washington (2010) and Minnesota (2011), the better.
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Akili Smith (third pick, 1999, Cincinnati Akili Smith (third pick, 1999, Cincinnati Bengals)
In the fifth game of his rookie season, Smith threw a touchdown pass with five seconds remaining to give the Bengals an 18-17 victory over the Browns, whom he thought should have taken him ahead of Couch. That turned out to be the first of only three wins Smith recorded with the Bengals, who cut their losses by drafting Palmer first overall in 2003. Smith completed less than half of his throws and had a passer rating of 52.8 before fleeing to the Canadian Football League, where he was just as much of a dud.
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Michael Vick (first pick, 2001, Atlanta Falcons)
There’s no denying things ended badly for him on and off the field with the Falcons, or that he became disposable by the end of his five-year stay with the Eagles. But the proliferation of the quarterback who’s as much of a threat with his legs as with his arm can be traced to Vick. As was the case with McNair, Vick backed up Chandler as a rookie and endured his share of growing pains. Remarkably, his best season came after serving 18 months in prison on dogfighting charges, when he threw for 3,303 yards and 18 TDs for the Eagles in 2011.
David Carr (first pick, 2002, Houston Texans)
Like Couch, Carr had the misfortune of coming to a brand new team. He was the league's most-sacked quarterback in three of his first four years, and while he completed 68.3 percent of his passes in 2006, the Texans went only 6-10 and Carr was shown the door. A change of scenery with the Panthers didn't do him any good, and he wrapped up his career backing up Eli Manning with the Giants. His younger brother, Derek, is being mentioned as a possible first-round selection next week.
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Joey Harrington (third pick, 2002, Detroit Lions)
Getting stuck on bad teams didn't help his cause. Then again, Harrington never made a bad team appreciably better. The high point of his career came on Thanksgiving Day 2006 when, as a member of the Dolphins, he returned to Detroit and threw for three touchdowns in Miami's 27-10 victory. But he was benched by the end of the season for Cleo Lemon, and after a lackluster 2007 season with the Falcons, Harrington's playing days were through. He finished with a career record of 26-50.
Not since Boomer Esiason fell to them in the second round in 1984 had the Bengals found anything but bad luck at quarterback in the draft. Palmer never took a single snap as a rookie, playing behind Jon Kitna, but threw for a league-high 32 scores in 2005. The Bengals and their fans probably still wonder what might have been if Palmer didn't suffer a career-threatening knee injury in the first quarter of a playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He remains capable of big numbers, as the Jaguars saw last November when he passed for 419 yards as a member of the Arizona Cardinals.
He threw for 51 touchdowns with 36 interceptions while with the Jaguars and started for them against the Patriots in the 2005 playoffs. By no means does that qualify as a disgrace. But Leftwich was ineffective in that game and was gone after the following year as the Jaguars decided to take their chances with David Garrard. He became the quintessential journeyman, going from Atlanta to Pittsburgh to Tampa Bay and back to Pittsburgh.
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Eli Manning (first pick, 2004, San Diego Chargers, traded to New York Giants)
The last blockbuster trade involving the No. 1 pick wound up being, pardon the cliché, to the benefit of both teams. Manning will never possess the statistics of his older brother, but he helped the Giants defeat the New England Patriots twice in the Super Bowl, with the first of those wins coming when Tom Brady & Company were less than a minute away from the NFL's first perfect season since the 1972 Miami Dolphins. He has thrown for more than 35,000 yards, although he's coming off a year in which the Giants finished 7-9 and he was picked off 27 times.
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Philip Rivers (fourth pick, 2004, New York Giants, traded to San Diego Chargers)
While he might be detested in every stadium when the Chargers are on the road, you can't find much fault in Rivers' results. He has completed 64.4 percent of his passes and has been chosen for as many Pro Bowls (5) as Eli Manning and Roethlisberger combined despite spending his first two years primarily as a backup to Drew Brees. There were plenty of postseason disappointments on teams coached by Marty Schottenheimer and Norv Turner, but Rivers enjoyed perhaps his best season yet at age 32 following the hiring of Mike McCoy.
Alex Smith (first pick, 2005, San Francisco 49ers)
At this time a year ago, Smith was a full-blown miss. But a change of scenery from the 49ers to the Chiefs resurrected his career. He threw for a career-high 23 touchdowns and was one reason why the Chiefs got off to a 9-0 start. Can he turn in a similar season at age 30, or is he going to revert to being known as the quarterback who went first overall while Rodgers slid almost all the way out of the first round?
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Vince Young (third pick, 2006, Tennessee Titans)
Regarded as a can't-miss prospect after his amazing performance in Texas' national championship victory over USC, Young somehow missed. While he earned Rookie of the Year honors and was picked twice for the Pro Bowl despite never throwing for more than 12 touchdowns in a season, Young was released by the Titans in 2011 and prematurely referred to the Eagles as “the Dream Team” upon signing with them. At 30, he was invited this week by the Browns to attend their mini-camp.
Matt Leinart (10th pick, 2006, Arizona Cardinals)
Instead of Jay Cutler, who went one spot later to the Broncos, the Cardinals selected Leinart, the Heisman Trophy winner from USC who possessed an NFL body but a subpar arm. Although he started 11 games as a rookie and threw for 405 yards against the Minnesota Vikings, his career went downhill as he fractured his collarbone in 2007 and then couldn't beat out Kurt Warner or Derek Anderson for a starting job when healthy. He bounced around from Houston to Oakland and Buffalo before hanging it up.
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JaMarcus Russell (first pick, 2007, Oakland Raiders)
There might not have been a bigger flop among No. 1 picks in any pro sport than Russell. He lasted only three seasons with the Raiders, who gave him a $61 million contract with $32 million guaranteed. His weight ballooned to more than 300 pounds, and in his final season with the Raiders, he finished with the lowest passer rating (50.0) of any NFL starting quarterback since Leaf in 1998. It's primarily because of him that the league now has a salary cap for first-year players.
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Matt Ryan (third pick, 2008, Atlanta Falcons)
A franchise which was in disarray by the time Vick went to prison found its footing and its quarterback after the Dolphins took offensive tackle Jake Long and the St. Louis Rams drafted defensive end Chris Long. With Ryan directing the offense, the Falcons made the playoffs four out of five years before stumbling to a 4-12 finish in 2013. He has almost exactly twice as many touchdown passes as interceptions for his career and has built a reputation for excelling with the game on the line. Ryan went to the Falcons the same year Henne was selected by the Dolphins in the second round.
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Matthew Stafford (first pick, 2009, Detroit Lions)
It doesn't hurt to have Calvin Johnson at wide receiver, but Stafford can stand on his own merits in helping the Lions become relevant again for the first time since the days of Barry Sanders. While his decision-making has been openly called into question at times, Stafford has averaged 4,885 yards through the air the past three seasons. The Jaguars have had a 4,000-yard passer just once in their 19 seasons, when Mark Brunell threw for 4,367 yards in 1996 but finished with more interceptions (20) than touchdowns (19).
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Mark Sanchez (fifth pick, 2009, New York Jets)
The Jets, who have still never reached the Super Bowl in more than 40 years, got to the AFC championship game in each of Sanchez's first two seasons. While he didn't exactly set the league on fire over that stretch, there was no hint that his career would go up in flames not long thereafter. It bottomed out on Thanksgiving night 2012 against the Patriots in a play which introduced the term “butt fumble” to the football-viewing public. At 27, he finds himself on the outside looking in.
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Sam Bradford (first pick, 2010, St. Louis Rams)
In some respects, Bradford is no better than Gabbert -– an oft-injured player who has rarely lit it up when healthy. Plus, he's scheduled to make $27 million the next two years, although the Rams can release him in 2015 without taking a severe cap hit. The Rams will pick just ahead of the Jaguars in the first round, and while there's little to no chance of them taking a quarterback that early, concerns about Bradford's health after a season-ending ACL injury could force their hand in the middle rounds.
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Cam Newton (first pick, 2011, Carolina Panthers)
Like many highly touted quarterbacks of recent years, Newton needs to follow up on his regular-season accomplishments by doing something of note in the playoffs. It's easy to forget that the Panthers went 12-4 in 2013 because they were beaten soundly at home by the San Francisco 49ers, and the loss of Steve Smith to the Ravens leaves Newton in search of a new favorite wide receiver this season. Until the Panthers won 11 of their last 12 games a year ago, Newton had a sub-.500 record for his career.
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Jake Locker (eighth pick, 2011, Tennessee Titans)
More than a few eyebrows were raised after the Titans selected Locker, who had only a 10-21 record in college as Washington's starting quarterback. His record of success hasn't been much better in the NFL. Part of the problem is he has never played a full season, with last year coming to an end in a loss to the Jaguars when he injured his right foot and needed to undergo surgery. Barring a huge turnaround, the Titans aren't expected to pick up Locker's fifth-year option.
In a nutshell, he's the reason why the Jaguars are in the market for a new quarterback again. They traded Gabbert to the 49ers in March for a sixth-round draft after he no longer fit into their plans, which became clear when he didn't take a snap in the final 11 games a year ago. He had a record of 5-22 as a starter and, as was the case with most of those in this category, accounted for more interceptions (24) than touchdowns (22). Part of the problem was his inability to stay healthy, but it went beyond that.
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Andrew Luck (first pick, 2012, Indianapolis Colts)
By rallying the Colts past the Kansas City Chiefs in the playoffs after falling behind 38-10, Luck silenced many of the doubters who questioned whether he could produce in the clutch. Few quarterbacks have gotten to the postseason each of their first two seasons, and Luck has already thrown for 8,196 yards and 46 touchdowns. The interceptions (27) are a cause for concern, however. That's one more than Brandon Weeden had during two undistinguished years with the Cleveland Browns.
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Robert Griffin III (second pick, 2012, Washington Redskins)
Perhaps this is giving him the benefit of the doubt that his second season, when the Redskins went 3-13 and the tension between Griffin and coach Mike Shanahan became painful to watch, was just a bump in the road. As a rookie, Griffin displayed an arm strength and elusiveness which made him the talk of the nation's capital. With the arrival of Jay Gruden as coach and the promotion of Sean McVay to offensive coordinator, the Redskins are optimistic Griffin will be as good as new by the time they host the Jaguars in Week 2.
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Ryan Tannehill (eighth pick, 2012, Miami Dolphins)
If the Dolphins can assemble a line that can stop Tannehill from turning into a human piñata, they might have themselves a keeper. He threw for 24 touchdowns and almost 4,000 yards in his second year but was also sacked a league-high 58 times. At least at 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, he's better equipped to absorb a pounding. When the Dolphins last won a playoff game, their starter was Jay Fiedler and Tannehill was all of 11 years old.