Like the Texansthis year, the Browns in 2000 tapped a defensive end with the first pick in thedraft. But after that it was four quarterbacks in a row at the top. SI seniorwriter Jeffri Chadiha evaluates the pro development of the last six No. 1picks
2000 COURTNEYBROWN DE, Browns
Injuries limitedBrown to 47 games and 16 sacks in five seasons in Cleveland, but after signingwith Denver last year he became a key to the Broncos' run-stuffing defense."The whole thing with Courtney is his health," says Denver defensiveline coach Andre Patterson. "When he's healthy, he's adifference-maker."
BOTTOM LINE: Solidplayer who'll never be great.
2001 MICHAEL VICKQB, Falcons
Despite hisathleticism, Vick remains an inconsistent passer (75.8 career quarterbackrating) and has taken Atlanta to the postseason only twice in his five years."The expectation level with him is always so high," says Falconsoffensive coordinator Greg Knapp. "You simply can't measure his impact byhis quarterback rating."
BOTTOM LINE: Raretalent who's still honing his skills.
2002 DAVID CARRQB, Texans
Carr has beensacked 208 times in his career, which makes it difficult to judge him. Despitehis talents--he's mobile, accurate and tough--he hasn't proven he can carry theteam. "We have to put him in situations [in which he can] besuccessful," says new Houston coach Gary Kubiak. "With that comes theconfidence that his play will pick up."
BOTTOM LINE: Thejury's still out.
2003 CARSON PALMERQB, Bengals
Palmer topped theAFC with 32 TD passes last season and led Cincinnati to the AFC North title.Off-season knee surgery has been the only downer. "You have Tom Brady andPeyton Manning at the top of this league, and Carson is very close to reachingthat upper echelon," says Titans coach Jeff Fisher. "And he'll staythere for a long time."
BOTTOM LINE: Counton Pro Bowls and postseasons aplenty.
2004 ELI MANNINGQB, Chargers (traded to Giants)
Manning led NewYork to the playoffs in his first full season as a starter. Even with hisstruggles--four touchdown passes and 10 interceptions in his final six games(including a playoff loss)--that's satisfactory progress. "He'll paywhatever price is necessary to achieve success," says Giants coach TomCoughlin. "You can't have enough of those guys."
BOTTOM LINE: Righton track.
2005 ALEX SMITHQB, 49ers
Smith's rookienumbers were dreadful: one TD pass, 11 interceptions, 11 fumbles. Experienceand a new offensive coordinator (Norv Turner) should help. "His problems[with turnovers] started with his mind shutting down, his body shutting down,and the ball coming out after that," says Niners quarterbacks coach JimHostler. "Those issues have gotten a lot better."
BOTTOM LINE: Needsto show major progress this season.
FROM TOP: ROB HOLT/SPORTPICS; BOB ROSATO; AL TIELEMANS; DAVID BERGMAN; HEINZ KLUETMEIER; ROB HOLT/SPORTPICS