We're closing in on the 2021 NFL Draft and with it comes the injection of immense talent and youth to the league. Of course, this draft in particular is hyped thanks to who is poised to be the No. 1 overall pick and what his potential could be at the next level. While Clemson phenom Trevor Lawrence deserves all that anticipation, game-changing talent can be found all across the draft board. That brings us to our activity today. We here at CBS Sports have taken on the task of finding the best of the best who were ever selected in what is now known as the first round (first 32 picks).
We'll be covering each spot in the first round all the way until we reach No. 1 overall on the Tuesday before the draft, which officially kicks off on Thursday, April 29, at 8 p.m. ET. To follow along on who makes each top five, check out our hub of all the action here.
How we determined who actually made the cut was a combination of their impact to the league, longevity, accolades, and -- more simply -- a gut feel of whether or not they are worthy of entering this exclusive class.
This year, the Dallas Cowboys are slated to pick No. 10 overall. Our CBS Sports draft analysts have pegged South Carolina cornerback Jaycee Horn and Alabama cornerback Patrick Surtain II as some of the potential candidates who could be taken at that spot in their most recent mock drafts.
5. Jerome Bettis, running back
1993 NFL Draft: No. 10 overall (Notre Dame)
Team(s): Los Angeles Rams (1993-1995), Pittsburgh (1996-2005)
After a dazzling career as a nimble yet stocky ball carrier for the Fighting Irish, Bettis landed in Hollywood with the Rams and went over 1,400 yards with seven scores on the ground in his first season. He was a first-team All-Pro as a rookie, quite the feat.
His production dipped the next two seasons before his trade to the Steelers. In Pittsburgh, his career blossomed and he became a household name on a plethora of great Steelers teams in the 1990s and early 2000s. Like with the Rams, Bettis' first year in Pittsburgh finished with first-team All-Pro honors and it started a streak of six consecutive seasons with over 1,000 yards on the ground at a respectable 4.1 yards-per-carry average for a power back.
Bettis finished his career in style with a Super Bowl win in his home city of Detroit. He twice was a first-team All-Pro and was named to the second team on one occasion. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2015.
4. Patrick Mahomes, quarterback
2017 NFL Draft: No. 10 overall (Texas Tech)
Team(s): Kansas City (2017-current)
Yes, an active player belongs on this list. Mahomes was a controversial choice in the 2017 draft when the Chiefs moved all the way from No. 27 overall to pick the wild but talented quarterback from Texas Tech. After a redshirt season as a rookie, Mahomes erupted onto the scene in 2018 with 50 touchdown passes and an MVP award en route to the Chiefs earning the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs and advancing to the AFC title game.
He won the Super Bowl the following season while eclipsing the 4,000-yard passing yard plateau in just 14 games. In 2020, Mahomes led the Chiefs to another Super Bowl appearance while tossing 38 touchdowns to just six picks during the regular season. He also led the league in passing yards per game. On a consistent basis, Mahomes makes the most ridiculous completions look ordinary while scrambling or when he needs to launch the ball 60-plus yards down the field.
To date, Mahomes has 114 passing touchdowns to just 24 interceptions and a bulky 8.4 yards-per-attempt average.
3. Terrell Suggs, defensive end
2003 NFL Draft: No. 10 overall (Arizona State)
Team(s): Baltimore (2003-2018), Arizona (2019), Kansas City (2019)
Suggs was a key member of a multitude of ferocious Ravens defenses during his 16-year tenure with the team, and he eclipsed the 10-sack mark on seven different instances in his illustrious, potentially Hall of Fame career.
He won the Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2003 and the Defensive Player of the Year in 2011 in Baltimore, the latter achievement coming on the heels of 14-sack, seven forced fumble campaign. His 139 career sacks currently rank eighth in NFL history. The 6-foot-3, 265-pounder was known for his ultra-aggressive playing style and power through blockers en route to the quarterback.
He was a first-team All-Pro once, a second-team All-Pro on one occasion and made the Pro Bowl seven times.
2. Rod Woodson, defensive back
1987 NFL Draft: No. 10 overall (Purdue)
Team(s): Pittsburgh (1987-1996), San Francisco (1997), Baltimore (1998-2001), Raiders (2002-2003)
Woodson was one of the most feared defensive playmakers the NFL has ever seen. He had at least one pick in all 17 seasons as a pro. By his third season in Pittsburgh, Woodson was a first-team All-Pro. In that campaign, he snagged three picks, forced four fumbles, recovered four more all while making 80 tackles. He was a first-teamer the following season and in 1992, 1993, and 1994 when he totaled 16 interceptions. In 1992, he hit 100 tackles.
Ironically, Woodson never led the NFL in interceptions with the Steelers, but did so twice later in his career -- in 1999 with the Ravens and 2002 with the Raiders. He also took 12 of his picks to the house for scores. The sixth-time first-team All-Pro entered the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009.
1. Marcus Allen, running back
1982 NFL Draft: No. 10 overall (USC)
Team(s): Raiders (1982-1992), Kansas City (1993-1997)
Allen was and electric running back from the moment he stepped foot into the NFL in 1982. He led the NFL in ground-game touchdowns that season and was named Offensive Rookie of the Year. After that, he went on to go over 1,000 yards in three straight seasons -- remarkably the only three times he accomplished that feat in his career -- and in 1985 he topped the league with 1,759 rushing yards when he won NFL MVP and Offensive Player of the Year.
In early 1984, he had one of the most famous touchdown runs in Super Bowl history, a remarkable 74-yard scamper through the Washington defense in the Raiders' 38-9 rout. That run helped him earn Super Bowl MVP honors. Allen led the NFL in rushing touchdowns again with 12 in 1993 when he was named to one of his six Pro Bowls. He was twice a first-team All-Pro and made the second-team one time.
Allen finished his career with 12,243 rushing yards, which still ranks 14th all time. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2003.