The NFL Draft can be a franchise altering time for many teams. Let’s look back at the last four #1 overall picks and how they have fared thus far. Would the teams who have made the last four #1 overall picks change their minds?
Would they do something different? Hindsight is 20/20, so I’m sure they’d have something to say. Quarterbacks are the most valuable position in all of professional sports, so it should be no surprise that four of the last five #1 overall picks have been QBs.
We won’t dive into Bryce Young yet, since he hasn’t played a snap, but we can take a look at the #1 overall picks before him to give an analysis.
NFL Draft: Looking at the past four #1 overall picks
2019: Kyler Murray, QB, Arizona Cardinals
The Arizona Cardinals endured a tough 2018 season with their top draft pick Josh Rosen, so when they cleaned house, earned the #1 pick and hired Kliff Kingsbury, I think it all became abundantly clear that they were taking Murray in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Some may question Murray currently as a QB. I personally believe that he is a borderline elite talent at the position and is one of the few QBs in the league who is truly dual-threat.
There really was no other option for the Cardinals here in 2019.
Verdict: Kyler Murray was the right pick
2020: Joe Burrow, QB, Cincinnati Bengals
Joe Burrow’s historic 2019 season with LSU propelled him up the draft boards for 2020 when Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert were clearly one and two. Burrow separated himself from the rest of the QBs coming out in the draft, but his rookie season was cut short due to a torn ACL.
Since then, the Bengals have made two straight deep playoff runs including a Super Bowl in 2021. It’s clear that the Bengals made the right selection with Burrow, even if Justin Herbert is the more talented player. Cincy has their franchise QB for the next decade.
Verdict: Joe Burrow was the right pick
2021: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars
Trevor Lawrence was largely seen as a generational prospect when he came out for the 2021 NFL Draft. He can truly do it all as a passer and the 2021 season was fun to watch since it was the “Tank for Trevor” season.
The Jets seemed to be in the lead for that until the Jaguars ended up with the #1 overall pick, and there was no chance at all they were taking a different player than Lawrence. He had a rocky rookie season playing for Urban Meyer but bounced back in a big way with Doug Pederson in 2022.
The Jaguars are here to stay, and it’s largely due to T-Law.
Verdict: Trevor Lawrence was the right pick
2022: Travon Walker, DL, Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jags again had the first overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft and decided to take someone they hope will be a cornerstone defensive piece in Travon Walker managed just 3.5 sacks, 49 total tackles, five tackles for loss, and 10 QB hits in his rookie campaign.
Conversely, Aidan Hutchinson, who went the pick after to the Detroit Lions, had 9.5 sacks, 52 total tackles, nine tackles for loss, and 15 QB hits. Hutchinson clearly had the better rookie season and man saw Walker as being a bit of a project with an insane upside.
Perhaps Walker hits that stride in year two or year three, but right now, I think the Jags would do this pick differently in hindsight and take Hutchinson or Sauce Gardner.