With the latest speculation pointing to the Panthers drafting Cam Newton with the top pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, SI.com takes a look back at other QBs who have gone No. 1 overall since 1970.
It's too soon to know how Bradford will develop, but the early returns look promising. He started every game, completed 60 percent of his passes and tossed 18 touchdowns in earning the Offensive Rookie of the Year award. Most impressively, he led the Rams to playoff contention a season after they won only one game.
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The Lions QB has flashed the potential that made him the top pick, but he's struggled to stay on the field. He threw 20 interceptions and completed only 53 percent of his passes during his rookie season, which ended with a separated shoulder. Stafford then lost all but three games in his sophomore season to a pair of injuries to his throwing shoulder. His future depends on whether he can stay healthy enough to be effective.
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Possibly the biggest bust in league history, Russell never put in the work necessary to be a top QB. His weight reportedly ballooned to more than 300 pounds, and in his final year in Oakland, he completed 48 percent of his passes and threw three touchdowns and 11 interceptions. The price tag: $32 million guaranteed on his $61 million rookie contract. The Raiders released him in May 2010.
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San Francisco's on-again, off-again starter has struggled with his consistency. He started every game in his second season but tossed 16 picks. The following year, he completed only 48 percent of his passes and started only seven games. He has been a serviceable starter for the 49ers since, but he hasn't been the franchise QB the team expected.
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The Giants acquired the QB in a draft-day trade, and his tenure has featured more positives than negatives. The top moment was Manning's MVP performance in Super Bowl XLII as New York knocked off the undefeated Patriots. But he's also led the NFL in interceptions twice (including in 2010, when he tossed 25 picks). Still, New York rewarded him with a six-year, $97.5 million contract extension in 2009.
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The Heisman Trophy winner became one of the league's star QBs and led Cincinnati to the postseason, but Palmer and the Bengals could be headed for a messy divorce. Palmer led the NFL in touchdown passes during his third season, and he made the Pro Bowl in 2006 and 2007. But he seemed to regress on the playing field and despite a resurgence in 2010, requested a trade out of Cincinnati, threatening to retire if he didn't get his wish.
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Behind a porous offensive line, Carr -- the expansion franchise's first pick -- was sacked more than any other QB in three of his five years, including a record 76 times in his rookie season. In his time with Houston, he threw more interceptions (65) than touchdowns (59) and the team went 22-53 with him as the starter. He has been a backup with three teams since leaving Houston in 2007.
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The QB's on-field success in Atlanta was overshadowed by how his run ended. When Vick went to prison for his role in a dog-fighting ring, it forced the franchise to start from scratch. Vick was only a 53-percent passer with the Falcons, but he ran for more than 500 yards in four of his six seasons with the team and made three Pro Bowls. Now the starter for Philadelphia, Vick made the Pro Bowl again in 2010.
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The expansion Browns were expected to grow behind Couch, but the QB failed to improve after a middling rookie season. Cleveland went 22-37 in his starts, and Couch tossed 67 interceptions in his five seasons. Although he wasn't a complete disaster, he lasted only five seasons in the league, and his lack of development held back the franchise.
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The four-time MVP and 11-time Pro Bowler turned Indianapolis into a perennial contender. Scouts were split in 1998 on whether the better prospect was Manning or Ryan Leaf, one of the biggest busts in league history. The Colts chose wisely and have won 10 or more games 11 times in the past 13 seasons. Manning has started every game since being drafted.
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The reliable QB was relatively successful in his 14-year NFL career. He led New England to a 63-60 record as a starter and one Super Bowl (a loss to Green Bay) before losing his job to Tom Brady in 2001. He made a Pro Bowl in his three-year run with Buffalo and also started 1 1/2 seasons for Dallas before being replaced by Tony Romo. For his career, Bledsoe completed 57.2 percent of his passes and threw 250 touchdowns.
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The strong-armed QB was inconsistent throughout his career, flashing glimpses of his raw natural ability but struggling to translate that into success on the field. Indianapolis went 14-35 in his time with the team, and he tossed more interceptions than touchdowns. He bounced around the league as a part-time starter, leading the NFL in passing yards with Oakland in 1999. But he failed to live up to the pre-draft hype.
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The Hall of Famer led Dallas to three Super Bowl titles, and his 90 wins during the 1990s rank third for the most wins by a quarterback in a decade. He completed 61.5 percent of his passes during his career and tossed 165 touchdown passes. But his career was cut short by 10 concussions, the last of which came on a hit by LaVar Arrington in 2000.
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Tampa Bay didn't benefit much from its pick, but Testaverde went on to have a 21-year career as a part-time starter. With the Bucs, he completed only 52 percent of his passes and threw 25 more interceptions than touchdowns as the team sputtered to a 24-48 record. But in his time with six other teams, Testaverde earned two Pro Bowl nods and finished with 275 career touchdown passes.
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The Hall of Famer concluded his career in the best way possible -- with back-to-back Super Bowl wins. Unfortunately for the Colts, the nine-time Pro Bowler demanded a trade out of Baltimore before taking a snap. Elway played his entire career with the Broncos and compiled a 148-82-1 record. He finished with 300 touchdown passes, fifth-best in league history.
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Drafted ahead of Walter Payton among others, Bartkowski rebounded after a dreadful start. He made the Pro Bowl in his sixth and seventh seasons, led the NFL in passing touchdowns with 31 in 1980 and led the league by completing 67.3 percent of his passes in 1984. But his career was mostly mediocre, as he posted a sub-.500 career record as a starter.
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He was awful with New England but salvaged his career with the Raiders. With the Patriots, Plunkett completed less than half of his passes and threw 25 more picks than touchdowns. But he won two Super Bowls and posted a more respectable 80 touchdowns against 81 interceptions with the Raiders. He is the only Hall of Fame-eligible QB to win two Super Bowls and not be inducted.
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The two-time Super Bowl MVP led Pittsburgh to four titles in a six-year period from 1974 to 1980. Bradshaw also earned NFL MVP honors after the 1978 season, when he led the league with 28 touchdown passes and piloted the Steelers to a 14-2 record. He started his career slowly but was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1989.
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