Is Eli Manning the Best No. 1 Draft Pick This Century?

Dan Mennella
May 21, 2020 - 9:48 am

The 21st century is already two decades old, enough time to turn over every roster multiple times in the churn-and-burn NFL.

One of the few who enjoyed longevity in this brutal game, of course, is Giants legend Eli Manning.

The star quarterback's recent retirement has prompted a fascinating debate about his legacy, and just how great he actually was.

Many Eli supporters say you can't use traditional metrics to quantify his unusual career. Well, here's another one.

How about best No. 1 draft pick of the past 20 years? That is the conclusion recently reached in an interesting article by Bryan DeArdo of CBS Sports. 

Of course it's only a pool of 20 players, and after you weed out a few busts and incompletes, it's more like 12 or 15.

Still, there are some premium talents who have had terrific careers in that batch: quarterbacks Michael Vick, Carson Palmer, Alex Smith, Matthew Stafford, Andrew Luck and Cam Newton, plus the underrated stud defensive end Mario Williams.

Eli tops all of them, and to my mind it's not especially close. Yet another fascinating footnote in a career full of them.