The 5: Most recent Heisman Trophy winners selected No. 1 in the NFL Draft
Apr 19, 2019, 6:01 PM | Updated: 6:44 pm
(AP Photo/Craig Ruttle, File)
Less than a week remains until the Cardinals make the first pick of the 2019 NFL draft, and Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray remains the assumed favorite to go No. 1.
Murray threw for 4,361 yards and 42 touchdowns while completing 69% of his passes this past season, which earned him the Heisman Trophy. If the Cardinals do indeed make him the top pick on April 25, he will join a very select group of players to both win the Heisman and go No. 1 overall in the draft.
Here are the last five players to join that group, and how they fared after the fact:
Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns
Before Murray was lighting up scoreboards at Oklahoma, it was his former teammate that was doing so.
Mayfield was the latest Heisman winner to go No. 1 overall when the Browns picked him a year ago, and his numbers during his Heisman-winning campaign were eerily similar to Murray’s.
During his senior season with the Sooners, Mayfield threw for 4,627 yards and 43 touchdowns along with a completion percentage of 70.5%. This success ended up carrying over to the NFL for Mayfield, as he completed 63.8% of his passes and threw 27 touchdowns while leading the Browns to a seven-win improvement during his rookie year.
Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Winston broke onto the scene in a big way at Florida State, throwing for 4,057 yards and 40 touchdowns his freshman year and becoming the youngest player to ever win the Heisman. He also led the Seminoles to their first national championship in 14 years.
A year later, the Buccaneers selected him No. 1 overall, and the results have been mixed since then.
On one hand, Winston has thrown for over 4,000 yards twice and has made the Pro Bowl one time since his debut four seasons ago. On the other hand, he ranks tied for second in interceptions since 2015 and has never won more than nine games in a season.
The Buccaneers have placed their faith in Winston for at least one more year, and they hired former Cardinals coach Bruce Arians to help him reach the potential he flashed back in college.
Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
Like Winston, Newton also broke onto the college scene in a big way.
After transferring away from Florida and playing a year in junior college, Newton found his way to Auburn, where he threw for 2,854 yards and ran for 1,473 more en route to the Heisman Trophy and the 2010 national championship.
Newton’s performance at Auburn made the Panthers’ decision with the No. 1 pick in 2011 a no-brainer, and he has pretty much been what they had hoped he’d be.
He won the Rookie of the Year award during his first year in the league and went on to win the MVP award in 2015, leading Carolina to Super Bowl 50, albeit in a losing effort. He has also made three Pro Bowls and one All-Pro team during his time in the league.
Another Oklahoma quarterback makes an appearance on this list, this one being a familiar face to Cardinals fans.
Bradford had one of the most impressive seasons by a college quarterback in recent memory during his sophomore season with the Sooners, throwing for 4,720 yards and 50 touchdowns while completing 67.9% of his passes.
He entered the draft a year later, and the Rams picked him No. 1 overall despite a shoulder injury that kept him out of all but three games his junior season.
Since then, Bradford’s career has been a roller coaster, as he has bounced around to four different teams, including his sub-par stint with the Cardinals last season, and suffered multiple knee injuries. He remains unsigned.
Seven years before Bradford, it was Palmer, another former Cardinal, making history.
In 2002, the then-USC quarterback won the Heisman after throwing for 3,942 yards and 33 touchdowns. Soon after, the Bengals made him the top pick in the 2003 draft.
Palmer sat out his first season in Cincinnati, but took over the starting job in 2004 and went on to have a long and pretty successful career. He threw for over 4,000 yards six different times, made three Pro Bowls and led the Cardinals to the NFC Championship game in 2016.