Ranking the best NFL draft picks of all time: Top five at each spot, 1-32, ahead of 2021 NFL Draft

The 2021 NFL Draft is right around the corner, and its arrival will bring a flurry of new drama across the league. Will Trevor Lawrence finally go No. 1, giving the Jaguars long-awaited hope under center? Which of the many quarterback-needy teams picking in and around the top 10 will actually come away with a new signal-caller? Each and every draft-day decision will be made with hope for the future, in part because of the success of the past. Not every rookie pans out; teams know this all too well. But every single pick throughout the first round, from No. 1 to No. 32, has unearthed gems over the years.

Here at CBS Sports, we’ve got you covered with everything you need to prep for the 2021 draft. Whether it’s countless mock drafts (including Chris Trapasso’s seven-rounder!), updated prospect rankings, or buzz around which teams are eyeing which potential first-rounders, you shouldn’t be hurting for things to read. In the spirit of the upcoming rookie class, however, we decided to page through history and identify the best of the best to come from the draft. You know, to keep you especially hopeful about your favorite team’s chances this coming April.

Below, you’ll find our running log of the top five all-time picks at every first-round slot, as we work our way each day from No. 32 all the way to No. 1, which we’ll unveil the week of the draft:

Note: Some picks that were not originally first-rounders are included, as the NFL has expanded since the draft began in 1936. For example, the 32nd overall pick was considered a second-rounder until 2002.

No. 32

Top five of all time:

No. 1: Drew BreesNo. 2: Bob “The Geek” St. ClairNo. 3: Logan MankinsNo. 4: Lamar JacksonNo. 5: Benjamin Watson

Check out Tyler Sullivan’s full story here.

No. 31

Top five of all time:

No. 1: Cameron HeywardNo. 2: Curley CulpNo. 3: Tommy McDonaldNo. 4: Travis FrederickNo. 5: Greg Olsen

Check out Jared Dubin’s full story here.

No. 30

Top five of all time:

No. 1: Sam HuffNo. 2: Reggie WayneNo. 3: Eric AllenNo. 4: Keith BulluckNo. 5: T.J. Watt

Check out Cody Benjamin’s full story here.

No. 29

Top five of all time:

No. 1: Fran TarkentonNo. 2: Steve WisniewskiNo. 3: Nick MangoldNo. 4: Dave WilcoxNo. 5: Harrison Smith

Check out Chris Trapasso’s full story here.

No. 28

Top five of all time:

No. 1: Derrick BrooksNo. 2: Darrell GreenNo. 3: Joe StaleyNo. 4: Mark IngramNo. 5: Trevor Pryce

Check out Josh Edwards’ full story here.

No. 27

Top five of all time:

No. 1: Dan MarinoNo. 2: Roddy WhiteNo. 3: Devin McCourtyNo. 4: DeAndre HopkinsNo. 5: DeAngelo Williams

Check out Bryan DeArdo’s full story here.

No. 26

Top five of all time:

No. 1: Ray LewisNo. 2: Alan FanecaNo. 3: Joe DeLamielleureNo. 4: Clay MatthewsNo. 5: Dave Brown

Check out Jeff Kerr’s full story here.

No. 25

Top five of all time:

No. 1: Ted WashingtonNo. 2: Stanley MorganNo. 3: Dont’a HightowerNo. 4: Jon BeasonNo. 5: Santonio Holmes

Check out Jordan Dajani’s full story here.

No. 24

Top five of all time: 

No. 1: Aaron RodgersNo. 2: Ed ReedNo. 3: Dez BryantNo. 4: Calvin HillNo. 5: Cameron Jordan

Check out Patrik Walker’s full story here.

No. 23

Top five of all time: 

No. 1: Ty LawNo. 2: Ozzie NewsomeNo. 3: Bill GeorgeNo. 4: Ray GuyNo. 5: Bruce Armstrong

Check out Tyler Sullivan’s full story here.

No. 22

Top five of all time:

No. 1: Andre RisonNo. 2: Harris BartonNo. 3: Justin JeffersonNo. 4: Jack ReynoldsNo. 5: Demaryius Thomas

Check out Jared Dubin’s full story here.

No. 21

Top five of all time: 

No. 1: Randy MossNo. 2: Lynn SwannNo. 3: Vince WilforkNo. 4: Chandler JonesNo. 5: Alex Mack

Check out Cody Benjamin’s full story here.

No. 20

Top five of all time: 

No. 1: Jack YoungbloodNo. 2: Forrest GreggNo. 3: Maxie BaughanNo. 4: Steve AtwaterNo. 5: Bill Brown

Check out Chris Trapasso’s full story here.

No. 19

Top five of all time: Watch for our story coming April 9.

No. 18

Top five of all time: Watch for our story coming April 10.

No. 17

Top five of all time: Watch for our story coming April 11.

No. 16

Top five of all time: Watch for our story coming April 12.

No. 15

Top five of all time: Watch for our story coming April 13.

No. 14

Top five of all time: Watch for our story coming April 14.

No. 13

Top five of all time: Watch for our story coming April 15.

No. 12

Top five of all time: Watch for our story coming April 16.

No. 11

Top five of all time: Watch for our story coming April 17.

No. 10

Top five of all time: Watch for our story coming April 18.

No. 9

Top five of all time: Watch for our story coming April 19.

No. 8

Top five of all time: Watch for our story coming April 20.

No. 7

Top five of all time: Watch for our story coming April 21.

No. 6

Top five of all time: Watch for our story coming April 22.

No. 5

Top five of all time: Watch for our story coming April 23.

No. 4

Top five of all time: Watch for our story coming April 24.

No. 3

Top five of all time: Watch for our story coming April 25.

No. 2

Top five of all time: Watch for our story coming April 26.

No. 1

Top five of all time: Watch for our story coming April 27.

Published: 2021-04-08 12:15:03

Tags: #Ranking #NFL #draft #picks #time #Top #spot #ahead #NFL #Draft

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