Jameis Winston became the 21st quarterback taken No. 1 overall since 1970. We take a look back at the 20 quarterbacks taken before him and how their careers turned out. – James Parziale (NOTE: *-- denotes Hall of Famer).
Years Played: 14 Career: A four-time Super Bowl champion, Bradshaw was worth it. He started 8-13 in his first two seasons and almost never recovered, but turned into one of the best playoff quarterbacks of all time with a 14-5 record.
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1971: Jim Plunkett, QB, Stanford, New England Patriots
Years played: 15 Career: In today’s one-and-done NFL, he may have never gotten the chance to shine. It wasn’t until his ninth season that Plunkett mustered a winning record, leading the Raiders (his third team after the Patriots and 49ers) to a Super Bowl title. For good measure, he added a second title in 1983.
1975: Steve Bartkowski, QB, California, Atlanta Falcons
Years played: 12 Career: His best season came in 1980 when he led the Falcons to a 12-4 mark and a playoff berth. He threw 31 touchdowns, 15 interceptions and for 3,544 yards. He started in just 127 games, mustering a record of 59-68.
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1983: *John Elway , QB, Stanford, Baltimore Colts
Years played: 16 Career: The Colts never reaped the benefits of drafting Elway. He forced a trade to the Broncos, where he became one of the best quarterbacks of all time, winning two Super Bowls and appearing in three more. He’s arguably one of the top five quarterbacks of all time.
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1987: Vinny Testaverde, QB, Miami, (Fla.), Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Years played: 21 Career: Much like Steve Young, he had to leave Tampa to make something of himself. He spent six seasons with the Bucs, never finished above .500 as a starter. He moved on to Cleveland and found a modicum of success in 1994 when he went 9-4 as a starter for Bill Belichick’s Browns, who won a playoff game. It wasn’t until he was 35 that Testaverde found amazing success, amassing a 12-1 regular season record and leading the Jets to the AFC title game.
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1989: *Troy Aikman, QB, UCLA, Dallas Cowboys
Years played: 12 Career: Aikman is just one of two quarterbacks to win three Super Bowls in four years. He led the Cowboys dynasty of the 1990s alongside Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin and a host of other Hall of Famers. He owns an 11-4 playoff record.
1990: Jeff George, QB, Illinois, Indianapolis Colts
Years played: 13 Career: Strong-armed and full of potential, George ascended to expectations. He was 14-35 in four seasons with the Colts before he was run out. Attitude problems and a perceived lack of desire to win stunted George’s career. He had some success later on, leading the Falcons to a playoff berth in 1995 and taking over as the starter for the Vikings in 1999. Minnesota won a playoff game before losing to the eventual Super Bowl champs, but George can best be characterized as a journeyman.
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1993: Drew Bledsoe, QB, Washington State, New England Patriots
Years played: 14 Career: Got the nod over Rick Mirer, but was eventually pushed out by Tom Brady. Had success early in his career before Brady showed up. Bledsoe took the Patriots to the Super Bowl in 1996, but couldn’t beat Brett Favre or stay away from Reggie White in the loss. Perhaps the greatest moment of his career came in relief of Brady in the 2001 AFC title game when Brady got hurt in Pittsburgh. Bledsoe weathered the storm and threw a touchdown pass as the Pats went on to beat the Rams in the Super Bowl the following week with Brady back at the helm.
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1998: Peyton Manning, QB, Tennessee, Indianapolis Colts
Years played: 17 (still active) Career: The record pretty much speaks for itself. He owns – or is within reach of – every major quarterback mark in NFL history – except Super Bowls. He’s 1-2 there. He came back from what some thought was a career-ending neck injury in 2012 and picked up right where he left off – but with Broncos, not the Colts. He’s only had two losing seasons in his career and has always had double-digit wins in every other season.
Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY SportsChris Humphreys
1999: Tim Couch, QB, Kentucky, Cleveland Browns
Years played: 6 Career: Expected to be the savior as the first pick of the Browns’ reincarnated franchise, Couch couldn’t stay on the field. He ended up playing in only 62 career games due to injuries. In 1999, he was 8-6 as a starter with the Browns and got them to the playoffs before getting hurt in Week 17. That’s just about his only claim to fame as a pro.
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2001: Michael Vick, QB, Virginia Tech, Atlanta Falcons
Years played: 12 (still active) Career: It almost seems like Vick has had three careers. When he first jumped on the scene in 2001, he was heralded as the next generation of quarterback. He took down the Packers at Lambeau in the playoffs – the first time a team had ever done that. He was a game away from the Super Bowl in 2004 before losing to the Eagles. The middle of career was sidetracked by dog fighting charges, but he has bounced back to start for the Eagles and Jets.
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2002: David Carr, QB, Fresno State, Houston Texans
Years played: 11 Career: He spent a lot of time on his back, and he never could quite recover from it. In 76 starts for the Texans in five years, Carr was sacked 249 times. He missed just five starts in that time. He carved out a nice place for himself as backup with the Giants, winning a ring in 2011.
Years played: 12 (still active) Career: Palmer spent his first seven seasons in Cincy and made the playoffs twice. His knee injury in the 2005-06 Wild Card game against the Steelers (who won the Super Bowl that year) was one of the most famous playoff injuries of all time. Palmer languished in Oakland for two years before resurrecting his career in Arizona, but his injury last season derailed one of the most successful seasons in Cardinals history.
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2004: Eli Manning, QB, Mississippi, San Diego Chargers
Years played: 10 (still active) Career: He may have forced his way out of San Diego before ever taking a snap, but Peyton’s little brother has two Super Bowl rings to his name, having beaten Tom Brady twice in February. Each time he’s gone through tough road environments (Green Bay, San Francisco and Dallas) to get there, too. If you see Eli in January or February, watch out.
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2005: Alex Smith, QB, Utah, San Francisco 49ers
Years played: 10 (still active) Career: Smith is the guy the 49ers chose instead of Aaron Rodgers, and the man who seemingly had a new offensive coordinator each of his seasons before Jim Harbaugh got to the Bay Area and resurrected his career. Smith led the 49ers to a 13-3 record in 2011 and had them off to a 6-2 start in 2012 before getting a concussion that opened the door for Colin Kaepernick, who led the 49ers to a Super Bowl loss. Smith is now continuing success in K.C.
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2007: JaMarcus Russell, QB, LSU, Oakland Raiders
Years played: 3 Career: Arguably the biggest bust of all-time, Russell went just 7-18 as a starter in three seasons. He threw just 18 touchdowns in that time. Not much of an ROI on a six-year, $61 million contract.
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2009: Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia, Detroit Lions
Years played: 6 (still active) Career: Entering Year 7, Stafford has led the Lions to the playoffs twice in his career. He threw for 5,038 yards and 41 touchdowns in 2011, but last season may have been more productive because he led his team to 11 wins. After starting just 13 games in his first two seasons, he’s started all 16 games each of the last four years.
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2010: Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma, St. Louis Rams
Years played: 5 (still active) Career: His career has failed to launch. Knee injuries have derailed him, and that led to the Rams trading him to Eagles this offseason for Nick Foles.
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY SportsBob Donnan
2011: Cam Newton, QB, Auburn, Carolina Panthers
Years played: 4 (still active) Career: Not many have done more with less. He’s made the playoffs the last two seasons carrying the team on his back for the most part, backed by a stingy defense. Last season, he had Kelvin Benjamin (a talented but unproven rookie) and Greg Olson, but that’s about it. He even gave Seattle a game for three quarters in the playoffs.
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2012: Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford, Indianapolis Colts
Years played: 3 Career: A generational quarterback, it almost seems unfair that the Colts get to have him succeed Peyton Manning, but them’s the breaks. Luck has made the playoffs each of his first three seasons in the NFL, advancing to the next round each time. With that pace, he should be going to the Super Bowl this year if he and his teammates can solve the Patriots in the playoffs. Deflated balls aside, they’ve gotten crushed by New England the past two seasons.
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2015: Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Years played: 0 Career: The book is out on Winston. He’s been heralded as one of the smartest QB prospects in recent history, but only time will tell how he fares in Tampa’s rebuilding project.