New England Patriots

NFL Draft: How Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks have performed as pros

We could see two Heisman winners selected in the top three picks of the 2024 NFL Draft.

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The Heisman Trophy is the most prestigious individual honor in college football, but winning the award is no guarantee of success in the NFL.

Especially if you're a quarterback.

Sure, several Heisman-winning quarterbacks have had very good pro careers, but only one of them has been inducted into the Hall of Fame (Roger Staubach) and just two have won the Super Bowl (Staubach and Jim Plunkett).

This trend is relevant because we could see two Heisman-winning quarterbacks selected in the top three picks of the 2024 NFL Draft. USC quarterback Caleb Williams is the favorite to go No. 1 overall. He won the Heisman in 2022. LSU's Jayden Daniels might be taken with the No. 2 or No. 3 pick after winning the Heisman this past season.

Here's a look at how every quarterback who won the Heisman over the last 40 years fared in their pro career.

1984: Doug Flutie, Boston College

Flutie led Boston College to a 10-2 record and a Cotton Bowl victory over Houston. But the most memorable moment from the season was Flutie's iconic Hail Mary touchdown pass to beat Miami on the road as time expired. It's one of the most historic plays in college football history.

Flutie was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in the 11th round in 1985. He played four seasons in the NFL before taking his talents to the Canadian Football League from 1990 through 1997. He returned to the NFL in 1998 and won AP Comeback Player of the Year with the Buffalo Bills. Flutie earned a 10-5 record as a starter in 1999 and led the Bills to the playoffs, where they lost to the Tennessee Titans in the Music City Miracle.

He retired after the 2005 season, which he spent with the Patriots. His drop-kick extra point in Week 17 was a special moment.

1986: Vinny Testaverde, Miami (FL)

Testaverde played 21 seasons between seven different teams. His best years were with the New York Jets. He helped lead the Jets to a 12-4 record and a berth in the 1998 AFC Championship Game, where they lost to the eventual Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos.

1989: Andre Ware, Houston

Ware put up huge stats in Houston and was selected by the Lions with the No. 7 pick in the 1990 NFL Draft. But he only played in 14 games (six starts) over four years with the Lions. He never appeared in a regular season game after the 1993 campaign.

1990: Ty Detmer, BYU

Detmer finished top three in Heisman voting twice, winning in 1990 and placing third in 1991. He played eight seasons between five teams from 1993 through 2003. Detmer finished with 34 passing touchdowns and 35 interceptions in 54 career games.

1992: Gino Torretta, Miami (FL)

Torretta played four seasons with the Hurricanes and led them to national titles in 1989 and 1991. He entered the 1993 NFL Draft and wasn't picked until the seventh round by the Minnesota Vikings. He played in just two games over two seasons before retiring.

1993: Charlie Ward, Florida State

Ward won the Heisman and national championship with the Seminoles in 1993. But he also played basketball at Florida State and chose to pursue a career in the NBA after the New York Knicks selected him in the first round of the 1994 draft.

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1996: Danny Wuerffel, Florida

Wuerffel was a fourth-round pick of the New Orleans Saints in the 1997 NFL Draft. He played in just 25 games over six seasons.

2000: Chris Weinke, Florida State

Weinke was drafted in the fourth round by the Carolina Panthers. He was an older rookie, entering the league at 29 years old. The Panthers struggled mightily in Weinke's rookie season with a 1-15 record. Weinke, at one point, had a 17-game losing streak between the 2001 and 2002 seasons. It's the second-longest losing streak by an QB in league history. He retired after the 2007 season.

2001: Eric Crouch, Nebraska

Crouch led Nebraska to a 11-0 record to begin the 2001 season, then the Corn Huskers lost to Colorado in the Big 12 Championship Game and Miami in the BCS National Championship Game. He was more of a running quarterback, which fit the type of offense Nebraska ran at the time. He was drafted by the St. Louis Rams in the seventh round but never appeared in an NFL game.

2002: Carson Palmer, USC

Palmer was a really good NFL player and threw for 4,000-plus yards in six seasons. Injuries prevented him from reaching his full potential over a consistent period. He played 14 seasons but made it through all 16 games in just seven of them. Palmer's best season came towards the end of his career in 2015. He helped lead the Arizona Cardinals to a 13-3 record and a berth in the NFC Championship Game. Palmer finished second in MVP voting that season, too.

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2003: Jason White, Oklahoma

White is one of just three Heisman Trophy winners at any position never to be drafted. He was not selected in the 2005 NFL Draft. His previous knee injuries were a concern for some teams.

2004: Matt Leinart, USC

Leinart, along with running back Reggie Bush, led some of the most prolific and exciting offenses in college football history. He won a BCS national title in 2004 and nearly led USC to back-to-back championships but the Trojans lost to Vince Young and Texas in an epic game at the Rose Bowl. Expectations were high for Leinart entering the NFL. He was drafted No. 10 overall by the Cardinals in 2006 but played just 33 games over six seasons.

2006: Troy Smith, Ohio State

Smith was a fifth-round pick of the Baltimore Ravens in 2007. He played just 20 games in the NFL and 19 games in the CFL from 2007 through 2014.

2007: Tim Tebow, Florida

Tebow is one of the best college football players in history. He helped Florida win BCS national titles in 2006 and 2008, in addition to his Heisman in 2007. The Broncos selected him in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft, and he played two seasons in Denver.

The high point of his Broncos career came in the 2011 AFC playoffs when he threw an 80-yard game-winning touchdown on the first play of overtime in the Wild Card round. Tebow played just one more season in 2012 for the New York Jets. He never played in another NFL game. Tebow pursued a baseball career in the New York Mets organization from 2016 to 2021. He tried to make an NFL comeback as a tight end with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2021 but was released in the preseason.

2008: Sam Bradford, Oklahoma

Bradford was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft by the Rams. He had a couple decent seasons and finished his career with 103 touchdown passes and 61 interceptions. Injuries and a lack of talent around Bradford prevented him from reaching his peak. He retired after the 2018 season. He played in just 83 games over eight seasons.

2010: Cam Newton, Auburn

Newton was selected No. 1 overall in the 2011 NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers. He was a top-15 quarterback for many years and won league MVP in the 2015 season, during which the Panthers went 15-1 in the regular season and lost to the Broncos in Super Bowl 50. Injuries impacted Newton quite a bit in his last couple seasons. Newton is one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in league history. His 75 rushing touchdowns are the most all-time by a QB and 22 more than Josh Allen in second place.

2011: Robert Griffin III, Baylor

The Washington Commanders gave up three first-round picks and a second-round pick to move up from No. 6 to No. 2 and take Griffin in the 2012 NFL Draft. The bold move initially worked out as Griffin was named Offensive Rookie of the Year and led the franchise to the NFC playoffs. He injured his knee in the Commanders' Wild Card round loss, had major surgery in the offseason and was never the same player afterward. Griffin's career is a great "what if?" due to injuries. There's no doubt he was supremely talented.

2012: Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M

Manziel was a polarizing prospect, with some experts thinking he was worthy of a first-round pick, while others thought he'd be a complete bust. The Cleveland Browns took a chance on him with the No. 22 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. Manziel never made a seamless transition to the pro game, and played just 14 games over two seasons. He was out of the league by 2016.

2013: Jameis Winston, Florida State

Winston won a BCS national title with the Seminoles in 2013 and was drafted No. 1 overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2015. He spent six seasons with the Bucs and never reached the playoffs. In 2019, Winston became the first QB in league history to throw 30-plus touchdowns and interceptions in the same season. He has spent the last four seasons with the New Orleans Saints, but injuries have limited him to just 21 games during that span.

2014: Marcus Mariota, Oregon

Mariota was the No. 2 overall pick by the Tennessee Titans in the 2015 NFL Draft. He was the starter for four seasons in Tennessee. He has played for the Raiders, Falcons and Eagles over the last four seasons. Mariota came nowhere close to meeting expectations following a very successful college career.

2016: Lamar Jackson, Louisville

The Ravens landed Jackson with the last pick in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft. He has become a top-five quarterback, punishing opposing defenses through the air and on the ground. He is one of seven Heisman Trophy winners to be awarded NFL MVP, and he's the only one to win league MVP twice (2019 and 2023). Jackson's playoff performances haven't been great, but there's still plenty of time for him to prove his doubters wrong.

2017: Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma

Mayfield was the No. 1 overall pick by the Cleveland Browns in the 2018 NFL Draft. He didn't live up to expectations in Cleveland, and after a few injury-plagued seasons, he enjoyed a stellar bounce back with the Buccaneers in 2023. He set career highs with 4,033 passing yards and 28 touchdowns as the Bucs won the NFC South and reached the NFC Divisional Round, where they lost to the Detroit Lions.

2018: Kyler Murray, Oklahoma

The Arizona Cardinals took Murray with the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. He has been a very good player with an exciting dual-threat skill set. Unfortunately for Murray, his last two seasons were impacted by a torn ACL suffered in 2022. He'll try to re-establish himself as a top-15 QB during the 2024 campaign.

2019: Joe Burrow, LSU

Burrow had one of the best seasons in college football history in 2019. He threw for 5,671 yards and 60 touchdowns and led LSU to an undefeated season and national title. That Tigers squad is considered one of the greatest teams of all time. Burrow was the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals. He led the Bengals to the Super Bowl in 2021, where they lost to the Los Angeles Rams. Burrow, when healthy, is a top-five quarterback.

2021: Bryce Young, Alabama

The Panthers gave up multiple first-round picks to trade up to the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft and select Young. He struggled as a rookie and completed just 59.9 percent of his passes for 2,877 yards with 11 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. In fairness, he had little talent around him at the skill positions.

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