“Who’s going to go at No. 1?” This question is the one thrown around most before the annual NFL Draft, with the contenders typically lining up at quarterback, linebacker or even defensive end with a talent for pass rushing. If you’re picked No. 1 you definitely have talent, and you’ve also given yourself a great shot at a massive payday.
NFL players drafted with the first pick often become some of the best-paid athletes in the world. Using net worth information as measured by Celebrity Net Worth, GOBankingRates created a list of every No. 1 draft pick with a net worth greater than $10 million. Here are the top-drafted players who made the most of their athletic skills.
Last updated: April 29, 2021
Myles Garrett: $12 Million Net Worth
In February 2020, the NFL reinstated Cleveland Browns defensive end, Myles Garrett, after he served an indefinite suspension for his role in an ugly on-field brawl in a game against the Steelers. Cleveland drafted Garrett in 2017, and the Pro Bowler has made his presence known — and he’s being paid well for his efforts. He signed a four-year, $30.41 million contract that includes a $20.26 million signing bonus.
Baker Mayfield: $12 Million Net Worth
A year after they signed Myles Garrett, it was Cleveland, once again, that entered the 2018 draft with the No. 1 overall selection. This time they took Baker Mayfield, and the quarterback has been impressive. Equally impressive is his contract. He signed a deal worth $32.68 million over four years with a $21.85 million signing bonus.
Bruce Smith: $12 Million Net Worth
Drafted by Buffalo in the No. 1 position in 1985, Hall of Fame defensive end Bruce Smith’s long and lucrative career stretched all the way to 2003. He spent most of those years in Buffalo, with the last few seasons of his career spent playing for the Redskins. From 1989 until his retirement in the 21st century, he made seven figures a year every year except for one. In the end, his total salary came in just shy of $49 million.
Jameis Winston: $12 Million Net Worth
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers drafted Jameis Winston with the first pick in 2015, and at the age of 26 he’s already the all-time franchise leader in every passing category of significance — but he’s also out of a job. When the Bucs signed Tom Brady to a two-year deal, it spelled the end of the Winston era — the Bucs have literally never extended the contract of a quarterback they drafted. They announced they were cutting Winston in March. He did, however, clean up during those years thanks to a four-year, $25.35 million contract that included a $16.7 million signing bonus.
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Jadeveon Clowney: $13 Million Net Worth
The Texans drafted defensive end Jadeveon Clowney in 2014, but the three-time Pro Bowler moved to Seattle in 2019. The Seahawks paid $8 million of his one-year, $15 million salary while Houston paid the other $7 million. The rest of Clowney’s $50.58 million in career earnings came from his time with the Texans.
Kyler Murray: $13 Million Net Worth
The league’s newest No. 1 pick is Kyler Murray, the Rookie of the Year quarterback who the Cardinals scooped up in 2019. Arizona was thinking long-term when they signed the passer to a four-year contract that pays him $35.16 million, virtually all of which is guaranteed, for an average annual salary of $8.79 million.
Bo Jackson: $16 Million Net Worth
It’s hard to argue that two-sport superstar Bo Jackson wasn’t the greatest athlete of his generation. Despite the fact that he only played part time with the Raiders while playing full time as an outfielder for the Kansas City Royals, his five-year, $7.4 million contract to play football in Los Angeles made him the highest-paid nonquarterback in the NFL in 1987. The year before in 1986 — the same year the Raiders drafted him — he signed with the world champion Royals for a deal that was rumored to be worth $5 million at the time. His celebrity landed him huge endorsement deals, including with, among others, Nike, which launched his famous and highly acclaimed “Bo Knows” cross-trainer sneaker campaign.
Michael Vick: $16 Million Net Worth
One of the greatest rushing quarterbacks of all time, Michael Vick was drafted by the Falcons in 2001. His dynamic, explosive and unpredictable style of play changed the position of quarterback and made Vick one of the most popular figures in football. In 2007, however, he became the most hated person in sports when he was convicted and imprisoned for running a dogfighting ring. He returned, however, in 2009, this time to the Eagles, where he would play most of the rest of his career. By the time he retired in 2015, he had earned more than $117 million.
David Carr: $19 Million Net Worth
Quarterback David Carr did not live up to the expectations that come with being drafted No. 1 overall. He did, however, have a 12-year NFL career after being picked by the Texans in 2002. He played for three other teams, as well, mostly the Giants, earning seven figures for all but four years. He made exactly $40 million in salary over the course of his career.
Jared Goff: $20 Million Net Worth
Drafted by the Rams in 2016, Jared Goff has performed up to even the highest expectations — and his efforts were recognized with a veteran-sized contract extension. Already a two-time Pro Bowler, Goff originally signed a four-year deal worth $27.9 million. He was set to become a free agent in 2021, but the Rams kept him in Los Angeles with another four-year contract, this time worth $134 million with an NFL-record $110 million in guaranteed money.
Keyshawn Johnson: $20 Million Net Worth
One of the rare wide receivers to warrant a No. 1 pick, Keyshawn Johnson joined the Jets in 1996 when he agreed to a six-year, $15 million contract. Then, in 2000, Tampa Bay gave him a massive raise to join the Bucs, which he did as part of an eight-year, $56 million deal that included a $13 million signing bonus. Had he stayed in New York, he would have been paid just $2 million for the season.
Terry Bradshaw: $25 Million Net Worth
In 1981, Steeler great Terry Bradshaw — drafted by Pittsburgh in 1970 — got a $140,000 raise. He was paid $329,000 in 1980 — just one of three Steelers earning more than $300,000 — but one year later that number jumped to $470,000. The deal made him the second-highest-paid player in the league behind only Archie Manning, who took home $600,000 that year. He earned his real money, however, in the comfort of the broadcasting booth. Bradshaw became a CBS game analyst in 1984, just a few months after he retired. He joined Fox Sports in 1994, where he remains today earning roughly $2 million a year.
Earl Campbell: $25 Million Net Worth
Drafted by Houston in 1978, legendary running back Earl Campbell earned nearly $200,000 his rookie year, a giant salary in those days. By 1982, that number had grown to a reported $500,000, although he played in the days of deferred salaries, which allowed owners to pay most of what they owed their players for years and even decades down the line, allowing them — and not the players — to collect interest on that cash. In 1981, Campbell threatened the Oilers that he would sit out the season if they didn’t double his pay to $1 million a year with no deferments.
Tim Couch: $26 Million Net Worth
The high expectations surrounding quarterback Tim Couch — drafted by Cleveland in 1999 — were smothered by an endless string of injuries and the sad reality of playing for the Browns in the post-expansion era. He made good money during his five-year career, however, retiring with combined earnings of more than $20.26 million.
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Orlando Pace: $30 Million Net Worth
One of the greatest offensive linemen in history, Orlando Pace began his NFL career in 1997 when the Rams drafted him with the No. 1 selection. He signed a seven-year, $25.6 million contract right out of the gate. By 2005, he was earning $16 million a year. In 2009, he signed a three-year, $15 million deal to play for the Bears, but by that time, he was physically spent, injury-prone and past his prime. His career ended that year.
Mario Williams: $30 Million Net Worth
Defensive end Mario Williams quickly proved his value as a No. 1 overall pick when Houston drafted him in 2006. After a stretch with the Bills, he finished his stellar career in Miami in 2016. He earned eight figures for six of those 11 years, wrapping up his career with total earnings of $120.4 million.
Andrew Luck: $40 Million Net Worth
The Colts drafted quarterback Andrew Luck to replace Peyton Manning — long the face of the franchise — in 2012, and Luck quickly rose to the challenge. Citing fears for his physical health, however, Luck stunned the football world when he retired in 2019 at the age of 29 in his athletic prime. He left lots of money on the table in doing so, but not before he walked away with more than $109 million in total career earnings.
Cam Newton: $45 Million Net Worth
The Panthers drafted Cam Newton in 2011 and the move quickly paid off as Newton rose to prominence as one of the best quarterbacks in the game. Thanks to a gigantic signing bonus, he brought in nearly $15 million his rookie year. His salary then tapered off to between $1 million and $4 million for the next three years, but then a contract extension launched him into the financial stratosphere. In 2015-17, he made $24 million, $20 million and $23.67 million, respectively. He’s made no less than $15 million a year since then.
Drew Bledsoe: $48 Million Net Worth
In the post-Brady era, Drew Bledsoe seems like a footnote in Patriots history — but Bledsoe was a highly successful franchise quarterback before the young Brady stepped in for Bledsoe when he was injured and then never stepped back out. Bledsoe — long a Patriot, then a Bill, then a Cowboy — earned nearly $80 million during his 14-year career after New England drafted him in 1993.
Troy Aikman: $50 Million Net Worth
Dallas entered the Troy Aikman era when the Cowboys drafted the young quarterback in 1989 — he would spearhead one of the storied franchise’s most successful runs. Aikman earned more than $55 million on the field, but he wasn’t a one-revenue-stream kind of guy. Immediately after retiring in 2000, he joined Fox as a broadcaster, where he continues to earn a multimillion-dollar salary.
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Alex Smith: $55 Million Net Worth
Alex Smith never truly met the expectations surrounding a No. 1 overall draft pick, which the quarterback was when the 49ers picked him first in 2005. He did have solid runs, however, first in San Francisco, then in Kansas City and currently in Washington. He’s earned more than $161 million so far, and if he finishes out his current contract, he’ll have amassed more than $217 million by the end of 2022.
Carson Palmer: $60 Million Net Worth
Cincinnati drafted Carson Palmer in 2003 and although he never joined the ranks of the elite, the quarterback established his place as a team leader worth paying — and pay they did. Between his time with the Bengals, Raiders and Cardinals, Palmer enjoyed nine years of eight-figure salaries. By the time he retired in 2017, he’d racked up nearly $175 million in career earnings.
Matthew Stafford: $60 Million Net Worth
Matthew Stafford made the Lions competitive and stoked real optimism in Detroit after smashing records shortly after he was drafted in 2009. Once he proved himself, he was awarded the most lucrative contract in football at the time. He’s currently in the middle of a five-year, $135 million deal that includes a $50 million signing bonus and $92 million in guaranteed money.
Sam Bradford: $70 Million Net Worth
Drafted by the Rams in 2010, quarterback Sam Bradford also had staggered-year runs with the Eagles and Vikings before finally landing in Arizona. He commanded an eight-figure salary in seven of his nine seasons and has compiled total career earnings of more than $130 million.
John Elway: $145 Million Net Worth
Between the time the Broncos drafted him in 1983 and his retirement in 1998, legendary Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway earned eight figures for only one season and compiled total career earnings of less than $50 million. He made a fortune, however, in successful business ventures — including car dealerships and restaurants — after his career, and he’s also made big bucks at the executive level of the Broncos organization.
Eli Manning: $150 Million Net Worth
Drafted by New York in 2004, Eli Manning lived up to his family name by becoming one of the greatest quarterbacks in Giants history. During 16 seasons in the NFL, Manning earned an eight-figure salary every year but four and closed out his career with total earnings of more than $252 million. Only one No. 1 overall pick in history has a higher net worth — one Eli Manning knows very well.
Peyton Manning: $200 Million Net Worth
When the Colts drafted Peyton Manning in 1998, they made him the highest-paid rookie in history when he signed a six-year, $48 million contract. By the time he wrapped up his amazing career in 2015, the quarterback walked away with an astonishing $248.73 million in career earnings. Affable and highly marketable, he continues to enjoy major corporate sponsorship deals, and in 2018 it was reported that Fox and ESPN were willing to pay him an unprecedented $10 million a year to work as a broadcaster.
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