The best 1st-round selections, pick-by-pick

Jim McIsaac

Not every first-round pick turns into a draft bust, not even in Oakland. These are our picks for the best players ever selected at each spot in the NFL Draft's opening frame.

SB Nation 2014 NFL Draft

There are always sleepers and undervalued players who make good, but the first round of the NFL Draft remains the best way to acquire premium talent. Whether it's a franchise quarterback, a stud left tackle or a lockdown cornerback, the first round has produced plenty of top-end talent.

The quarterbacks and top five picks tend to draw the most attention. The later picks of the round, however, have also been a great source of talent with teams finding All-Pros, Hall of Famers and even an all-time great or two in the late stages of the round.

Here is a full look at the best picks at each spot in the first round of the last 25 years.

Best first round picks since 1989
Pick Player CarAV Notes
1 Peyton Manning, QB, Colts 172 Hard to argue with the CarAV here. Manning's seven first-team All-Pro selections are three more than the other 24 players combined. Drew Bledsoe, Orlando Pace and Troy Aikman are other notable selections.
2 Marshall Faulk, RB, Colts 133

Faulk is the only Hall of Famer of the group, so he gets the nod, at least for now. Calvin Johnson is a very strong contender while Von Miller and Robert Griffin III could play their way into consideration.

3 Barry Sanders, RB, Lions 120 Arguably the best running back in NFL history, Sanders is an easy choice. He and Cortez Kennedy both made the Hall of Fame after being the No. 3 pick. Andre Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald could be headed there one day.
4 Derrick Thomas, LB, Chiefs 105 Edgerrin James has the highest CarAV of No. 4 picks and Jonathan Ogden and Charles Woodson are other solid contenders, but Thomas had the best peak.
5 Junior Seau, LB, Chargers 127 LaDainian Tomlinson has a slightly higher CarAV at 129, but Seau gets the nod for longevity. He played 20 seasons, starting at least 10 games in 16 of them. Tomlinson and Deion Sanders are the other top contenders.
6 Walter Jones, OT, Seahawks 96 One of the best left tackles in NFL history, Jones is the only Hall of Famer selected sixth overall since 1989. He played much of his career in a seemingly never-ending offseason holdout, but always showed up Week 1 and played at a high level.
7 Champ Bailey, CB, Redskins 114 Although Adrian Peterson's best season may have been better than Bailey's best, Bailey has longevity on his side, having been one of the best corners in the NFL for the better part of a decade.
8 Willie Roaf, OT, Saints 106 One of the best offensive linemen in NHL history, the Saints hit big when they selected Roaf No. 8 overall in 1993. There is a fairly steep drop after Roaf with James Farrior, Joey Galloway and Jordan Gross among the other best picks.
9 Brian Urlacher, LB, Bears 119 With a Defensive Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, four All-Pro selections and eight Pro Bowl berths, Urlacher's resume speaks for itself.
10 Terrell Suggs, LB, Ravens 91 The 2011 Defensive Player of the Year has been a consistent top-end player since coming out of Arizona State in 2003. Injuries slowed him down recently, but he bounced back last season and has enough left in the tank be the pick over Willie Anderson.
11 Patrick Willis, LB, 49ers 90 The No. 11 pick has been very fruitful in recent years with Ben Roethlisberger, Willis, DeMarcus Ware, Dwight Freeney, J.J. Watt and others being picked in that spot. Willis has been consistently great from Day 1.
12 Warren Sapp, DT, Buccaneers 117 Sapp is by far the most accomplished of the former No. 12 picks. He ranks among the best defensive tackles in NFL history and was elected into the Hall of Fame recently. His former teammate, Warrick Dunn, might be the next best pick at No. 12.
13 Tony Gonzalez, TE, Chiefs 97 A likely pick for the best tight end in NFL history, Gonzalez's 6 first-team All-Pro selections are as many as the rest of the players combined. He gets bonus points for longevity, as does Takeo Spikes who was another contender.
14 Darrelle Revis, CB, Jets 72 Revis' run as the top corner in the NFL is enough to earn him the top spot instead of Eddie George and Ruben Brown. Earl Thomas has played only four seasons, but will play his way into the discussion if he continues on his current trajectory.
15 Derrick Johnson, LB, Chiefs 65 Albert Haynesworth probably had the best peak of the selections, Jason Pierre-Paul or Brian Cushing might develop into the best players if they can stay healthy, but for now Johnson has the best resume.
16 Troy Polamalu, S, Steelers 93 One of the best safeties of the modern era, Polamalu is a lock as the best 16th pick of the last 25 years. Julian Peterson, Jevon Kearse and others had their moments, but even their peaks can't compare to Polamalu's.
17 Emmitt Smith, RB, Cowboys 129 Safe to say the NFL's all-time leading rusher would make the best pick list. Steve Hutchinson was another great pick at No. 17, but an all-time great running back gets the edge over an all-time great left guard.
18 Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens 61 Eddie Kennison, Jeff Backus, Calvin Pace? The No. 18 pick hasn't been an especially productive spot to pick in recent seasons. Flacco gets the not for being a legitimate starting quarterback on a Super Bowl team.
19 Marvin Harrison, WR, Colts 124 Harrison's prolific career ranks him among the best wide receivers in NFL history. His former teammate, Tarik Glenn was selected a year later than Harrison and was also one of the strongest recent No. 19 picks.
20 Steve Atwater, S, Broncos 78 One of the top safeties of his time, Atwater is the only No. 20 pick since 1989 to be selected as a first-team All-Pro.
21 Randy Moss, WR, Vikings 123 Moss said he was going to make the teams that passed on him pay, and he spent the majority of his career doing just that. More than 15,000 receiving yards and 156 touchdowns is a solid return on the No. 21 pick.
22 Andre Rison, WR, Colts 76 There have been a lot of misses with the No. 22 pick, making Rison the best pick with former Jet Bryan Thomas and former Giant Will Allen other top picks. Percy Harvin could top this list if he's ever able to stay healthy.
23 Ty Law, CB, Patriots 87 Law played in and started the most games of any No. 23 pick while also being the best player. He made two All-Pro teams and five Pro Bowls.
24 Ed Reed, S, Ravens 108 The 24th pick has produced some high-quality talent in recent years, led by Reed. Aaron Rodgers, Steven Jackson, Dez Bryant and Chris Johnson are among the other top picks. Reed and his five first-team All-Pro selections tops them all.
25 Ted Washington, DT, 49ers 91 The former defensive tackle is the only No. 25 pick to have a CarAV above 57. Jon Beason, Jason Campbell and Santonio Holmes are a few of the other notable picks.
26 Ray Lewis, LB, Ravens 159 Lewis' football resume speaks for itself. Seven All-Pro selections, 13 Pro Bowl bids, two Super Bowls and a pair of DPOY nods. Alan Faneca is a very strong second choice.
27 Roddy White, WR, Falcons 81 A few former No. 27 picks had a nice season or two, including Larry Johnson, Michael Bennett and DeAngelo Williams, but White is the only player to produce at a high level for multiple seasons.
28 Derrick Brooks, LB, Buccaneers 140 Brooks played  14 seasons, started 221 games, was named first-team All-Pro five times and eventually elected to the Hall of Fame. No offense Joe Staley and Trevor Pryce, but this one was obvious.
29 Nick Mangold, C, Jets 64 Mangold solidified himself as one of the best centers in football not long after being drafted. Ben Grubbs and Cordarrelle Patterson are the only other former No. 29 picks to be selected to the Pro Bowl.
30 Reggie Wayne, WR, Colts 115 Wayne is nearing the end of a very productive career that will put him in the Hall of Fame discussion in a few years. He's been consistently productive, even without Peyton Manning and is an easy choice. Keith Bulluck and Patrick Kerney are among the other notable selections.
31 Nnamdi Asomugha, CB, Raiders 63 Asomugha's play dropped off a cliff after he left Oakland, but for a time he was arguably the best corner in the league. Whether that's because teams just didn't test him, or he really was a lockdown corner is irrelevant. Either way he shut down half the field. He made two All-Pro teams and three Pro Bowls during his peak.
32 Logan Mankins, OG, Patriots 91 It can be difficult to get premium value out of a guard, but when that guard goes on to become one of the best in the league, it makes for a great pick. Mankins started from Day 1 and never left the lineup, racking up six Pro Bowls and an All-Pro. He's the only No. 32 pick since 1989 to be selected to the Pro Bowl.

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