Andrew Luck will join mixed bag of QBs selected at top of draft

NEW YORK -- Quarterback has become the overwhelmingly essential position in pro football. Simply look at the guys behind center for recent Super Bowl winners.

When a team owns the first spot in the NFL draft, it's nearly a given that a quarterback will be selected, or at the very least in the running to be the choice. Since the NFL and AFL fully merged in 1970, 19 QBs have been selected No. 1 overall. In the last 14 drafts, 11 quarterbacks have gone first, ranging from such champions as the Manning brothers to such busts as JaMarcus Russell and David Carr.

NFL Network's show "The Ones" examined the careers of those 19 top picks, gathering their memories. Some are tinged with a title -- four, actually, for Terry Bradshaw, the 1970 top pick; three for Troy Aikman (1989); two for John Elway (1983), Eli Manning (2004) and Jim Plunkett (1971), one for Peyton Manning (1998).

Others have few positive recollections from their pro careers.

"When you are the first pick in the draft, the bar is set so high," said Tim Couch, the Kentucky quarterback taken in 1999 by the expansion Cleveland Browns. "If you are not winning Super Bowls or not going to Pro Bowls year-in and year-out, you are considered a bust.

"The most frustrating part is they really don't take into consideration what you were surrounded by. I never played with a Pro Bowler on offense. You look at the guys who have had success, Troy was surrounded by a Hall of Fame receiver (Michael Irvin). That's how things fall into place."

Carson Palmer, chosen first in 2003 by Cincinnati and now with Oakland, think some top picks try too hard and wind up struggling.

"There's a reason that you are being talked about that highly in the draft," Palmer said. "Just be you, don't try to be somebody you think they want you to be."

Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press

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