The National Football League has two ways to measure future success in the league. The first is getting picked first overall in the draft. The second is winning the college MVP award known as the Heisman Trophy. Not always are they the same, as the needs of the teams picking first may not match the best college player.
The question presented here is whether or not more Heisman Trophy winners have been elected into the Hall of Fame compared the first overall draft pick.
Thankfully both began at the same time with Jay Berwanger winning the Heisman and getting drafted first by the Philadelphia Eagles. However he did not make the Hall of Fame.
In 1942 the Pittsburgh Steelers took Bill Dudley first overall in the draft. Dudley would have a very successful NFL career, including winning an MVP. He also has the distinction of being the first number one draft pick elected into the Hall of Fame.
The 1940s also had number one picks Charley Tripp and Chuck Bednarik drafted first overall and entering the Hall of Fame once retired. Bednarik was a particularly special player, able to take the field as a center and a linebacker.
Paul Hornung was the next first overall pick to eventually get elected into the Hall of Fame. Hornung was drafted in 1957 by the Green Bay Packers.
Teams had their most successful run at drafting future Hall of Famers 1968-1970. Ron Yary, O.J. Simpson, and Terry Bradshaw were consecutive picks. The 1970s also had Lee Roy Selmon and Earl Campbell drafted first overall.
Finally in the 1980s we arrive at the final three first overall picks that have made the Hall of Fame. John Elway, Bruce Smith, and Troy Aikman are the last to live up to the hype of being drafted first overall.
Totaling them all up, 12 first overall picks have made the Hall of Fame. Among players still playing, only Peyton Manning will make the NFL Hall of Fame.
The first Heisman Trophy winner to get elected into the Hall of Fame was the 1948 winner Doak Walker. After him was Paul Hornung, who also managed to get picked first overall in the draft.
Quarterback Roger Staubach was the next Heisman Trophy winner elected into the Hall of Fame followed by O.J. Simpson. Like Hornung, Simpson was the first overall pick in the draft, joining the Buffalo Bills.
The late 1970s and early 1980s had its best streak of Heisman Trophy winners to eventually earn a Hall of Fame induction. In consecutive years Tony Dorsett and Earl Campbell won the Heisman Trophy. Only a few years later another running back joined them on this list, Marcus Allen.
The last Heisman Trophy winner elected into the Hall of Fame was the 1988 winner, Barry Sanders. A dominant running back throughout his entire career with the Detroit Lions, Sanders earned both honors.
Totaling them all up, 8 Heisman Trophy winners have made the Hall of Fame. A look at the current players, there is no one close to making it into Canton.
The end result, teams with the first overall draft pick in their hand have been more successful at picking a future Hall of Famer than the committee that selects who gets the Heisman Trophy.
Heisman Trophy Winners
Number One Draft Picks
Pro Football Hall of Fame