1. Peyton Manning
Why we picked Manning: Manning is the choice over the man who helped bring him to Denver, John Elway (No. 1 overall to the Baltimore Colts in 1983). Manning concluded his record-setting NFL career by winning Super Bowl 50, becoming the first starting quarterback to win Super Bowls with two different teams. He had led the Colts to their first Super Bowl win since the franchise's shift to Indianapolis in Super Bowl XLI. On top of two championships, Manning owns most major passing records, including most career passing yards (71,940) and touchdowns (539). He also owns the NFL record for most touchdown passes in a single season (55 in 2013). If that's not enough, Manning was a 14-time Pro Bowl selection and five-time league MVP. Manning will enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame as soon as he is eligible and will be a prominent fixture in "greatest QB ever" debates for as long as football is played.
Twitter vote for best No. 1 pick of past 20 years:
2. Lawrence Taylor
Why we picked Taylor: Taylor -- a 1999 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee -- redefined how the position of outside linebacker was played, and was one of the most devastating defenders in the history of the game. A nine-time All-Pro and 10-time Pro Bowler, Taylor was a member of two GiantsSuper Bowl-winning teams (XXI and XXV). In helping lead the Giants to the Super Bowl XXI crown, Taylor recorded 20.5 sacks and was named the NFL's MVP, becoming the first defensive player to earn such honors since 1971 (Alan Page, our choice for the best-ever draft pick at No. 15 overall).
Twitter vote for best No. 2 pick of past 20 years:
3. Barry Sanders
Why we picked Sanders: There were 12 Pro Football Hall of Famers selected with the No. 3 overall pick, so this was no easy selection with so many great players to choose from. However, Sanders was one of the most electrifying athletes to ever play the game. Sanders -- a 2004 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee -- rushed for 1,000 or more yards in each of his 10 NFL seasons, the first player ever to do so, and earned first- or second-team all-NFL honors in each of those highlight-friendly 10 seasons. Like Jim Brown before him, Sanders retired while still in the prime of his career, and did so when he was just 1,457 yards short of Walter Payton's prestigious all-time rushing yardage record.
Twitter vote for best No. 3 pick of past 20 years:
4. Walter Payton
Why we picked Payton: Payton -- a 1993 inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame -- owned a number of key NFL records when he retired in 1987, including total yards (16,726), seasons with 1,000 or more yards rushing (10), yards rushing in one game (275 vs. the Vikings in 1977), games with more than 100 yards rushing (77), and rushing touchdowns (110). Payton broke Jim Brown's career rushing yardage record in 1984. In 1985 as the Bears stormed toward victory in Super Bowl XX, Payton rushed for 1,551 yards. Payton was the league's MVP in 1977, and a member of the NFL's all-decade teams for the 1970s and 1980s, as well as the 75th anniversary all-time team.
Twitter vote for best No. 4 pick of past 20 years:
5. Deion Sanders
Why we picked Sanders: Sanders -- a 2011 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee -- was the dominant shutdown corner of his time all the while putting on an entertaining show for the fans. While excelling at cornerback, Sanders was one of the league's most dangerous return specialists -- returning nine kicks for touchdowns in his career -- and also dabbled on the offensive side of the ball, catching a pass in the Dallas Cowboys' victory in Super Bowl XXX. That was the second consecutive Super Bowl win for Sanders, as he helped the San Francisco 49ers win Super Bowl XXIX during 1994, when he earned NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors.
Twitter vote for best No. 5 pick of past 20 years:
6. Jim Brown
Why we picked Brown: Brown's career is the stuff of legend. Brown led the NFL in rushing in all but one of his nine seasons, and then, after being named league MVP for a record third time, Brown suddenly retired from the game at the age of 29. He was a vital part of the last major championship in Cleveland, the Browns' win in the 1964 NFL title game. Brown -- a 1971 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee -- was an eight-time Pro Bowl selection, and was a member of the NFL's all-decade team for the 1960s and the NFL's 75th anniversary all-time team. Brown retired as the NFL's all-time leader in rushing yardage (12,312), a record that would stand until 1984.
Twitter vote for best No. 6 pick of past 20 years:
7. Champ Bailey
Why we picked Bailey: Bailey bolstered his Hall-of-Fame resume during a distinguished 15-year NFL career (five with the Redskins and 10 with the Denver Broncos). He recorded 52 career interceptions, leading the NFL with 10 picks in 2006. Bailey is tied with Pro Football Hall of Famer Ken Houston for the most Pro Bowl selections among defensive backs with 12. Bailey is also a member of the NFL's all-decade team for the 2000s.
Twitter vote for best No. 7 pick of past 20 years:
8. Ronnie Lott
Why we picked Lott: Lott -- a 2000 inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame -- was the driving force on defense for four Super Bowl-winning 49ers teams. As important as Joe Montana was to the 49ers' offense, that was Lott's influence on the team's defense, earning All-Pro honors at three different positions (cornerback, free safety and strong safety) and twice leading the NFL in interceptions (1986 and 1991). Lott was named to the NFL's all-1980s, all-1990s and the 75th anniversary all-time team. Lott was also known for delivering devastating hits -- many of which wouldn't be street-legal in today's game -- and for having his finger chopped off so he could keep playing.
Twitter vote for best No. 8 pick of past 20 years:
9. Bruce Matthews
Team: Houston Oilers
Why we picked Matthews: Matthews -- a 2007 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee -- played every position along the offensive line during his 19-year NFL career. At the time of his retirement, Matthews played in more games (296) than any other positional player in league history. A nine-time All-Pro selection, Matthews played in 14 Pro Bowls (nine at guard, five at center), tied for the most Pro Bowl appearances all time (with Merlin Olsen, Tony Gonzalez, and Peyton Manning).
Twitter vote for best No. 9 pick of past 20 years:
10. Rod Woodson
Why we picked Woodson: Woodson -- a 2009 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee -- was named to the NFL's 75th anniversary all-time team nearly 10 years before his retirement. Woodson was an All-Pro performer as a cornerback, kick returner and safety. Woodson -- an 11-time Pro Bowler -- played in three Super Bowls for three different teams (1995 Pittsburgh Steelers, 2000 Baltimore Ravens and 2002 Oakland Raiders) winning one of those games. Woodson -- the 1993 NFL Defensive Player of the Year -- holds the NFL record for most interceptions returned for touchdowns with 12.
Twitter vote for best No. 10 pick of past 20 years:
11. Michael Irvin
Why we picked Irvin: Irvin -- a 2007 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee -- was one of the dominant offensive weapons of his era. "The Playmaker" teamed up with fellow Hall of Famers Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith to help deliver three Super Bowl titles in a four-year span to Dallas. Before his playing career was prematurely cut short in 1999 due to a spinal injury, Irvin earned five Pro Bowl selections and accumulated 47 100-yard receiving games, which was the third-most in NFL history.
Twitter vote for best No. 11 pick of past 20 years:
12. Herb Adderley
Why we picked Adderley: Adderley -- a 1980 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee -- reported to his first training camp with the Packers faced with the prospect of competing with future Hall-of-Fame running backs Jim Taylor and Paul Hornung for playing time. Vince Lombardi wisely quickly switched Adderley to defense, and said in hindsight, "Now when I think of what Adderley means to our defense, it scares me to think of how I almost mishandled him." Adderley moved to cornerback in his rookie season, and became a permanent fixture there during an unprecedented run of five championships in a seven-year span in Green Bay. Adderley then went on to play for the Dallas Cowboys, and became the only player to appear in four of the first six Super Bowls.
Twitter vote for best No. 12 pick of past 20 years:
13. Tony Gonzalez
Why we picked Gonzalez: Gonzalez overtook three Pro Football Hall of Famers to take the honors here. Gonzalez owns the NFL career records for a tight end for receptions (1,325), TD catches (111) and receiving yards (15,127). He also is tied with Peyton Manning, Bruce Matthews, and Merlin Olsen with the most all-time Pro Bowl selections, with 14. He also had the most 1,000-yard receiving seasons ever for a tight end with four.
Twitter vote for best No. 13 pick of past 20 years:
14. Jim Kelly
Why we picked Kelly: The pessimist sees the four Super Bowl defeats, but an optimist sees the first quarterback to lead his team to four consecutive Super Bowls. Kelly -- a 2002 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee -- was an easy pick at No. 14. He originally opted to play in the USFL for the Houston Gamblers, Kelly went to Buffalo when that league folded and quickly helped turn the Bills into perennial playoff contenders, leading the Bills to eight playoff appearances in his 11 seasons. Kelly guided the Bills' exciting K-Gun no-huddle offense that also featured Pro Football Hall of Famers Thurman Thomas and Andre Reed, and passed for more than 3,000 yards in eight seasons.
Twitter vote for best No. 14 pick of past 20 years:
15. Alan Page
Why we picked Page: Page -- a 1988 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee -- was the anchor of the Vikings' famed Purple People Eaters, which was a catalyst for four Super Bowl appearances by Minnesota. Page was elected to nine straight Pro Bowls, was named the league's defensive player of the year twice (in 1971 and again in 1973) and was the NFL's MVP in 1971 (one of just two defensive players -- Lawrence Taylor in 1986 was the other -- to earn league MVP honors. Following his illustrious NFL career, Page went on to become a justice in the Minnesota Supreme Court.
Twitter vote for best No. 15 pick of past 20 years:
16. Jerry Rice
Why we picked Rice: Rice -- a 2010 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee -- set career receiving standards that likely will never be matched again. Rice is so far ahead of the competition in every major career receiving mark that it's hard to imagine any player ever reaching those marks again. On the NFL's all-time lists in major statistical categories, Rice is 224 receptions ahead of second-place Tony Gonzalez (nearest active player is Andre Johnson, who is 496 receptions behind), 6,961 yards ahead of second-place Terrell Owens (Johnson, again, is the nearest active player at 8,795 yards behind) and 41 touchdowns ahead of second-place Randy Moss (Antonio Gates is the nearest active player, and he's 93 touchdowns behind). Rice -- who was selected as the No. 1 player in NFL Network's "The Top 100: NFL's Greatest Players" countdown -- was a winner, too, being on four of the 49ers' five Super Bowl champion teams, and was named MVP of Super Bowl XXIII.
Twitter vote for best No. 16 pick of past 20 years:
17. Emmitt Smith
Why we picked Smith: Sixteen teams passed on the eventual all-time leading rusher before the opportunistic Cowboys pounced at pick No. 17, thus adding the final piece of the famous trio that also included Pro Football Hall of Famers Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin. Smith was the 1993 NFL MVP, a four-time NFL rushing leader, an eight-time Pro Bowl selection and the MVP in the Cowboys' win in Super Bowl XXVIII. Given that Smith -- a 2010 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee -- entered the league one year after Barry Sanders, it made for heated "greatest running back in the game" debates for nearly a decade.
Twitter vote for best No. 17 pick of past 20 years:
18. Art Monk
Why we picked Monk: Monk -- a 2008 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee -- was Mr. Consistency on three RedskinsSuper Bowl-winning teams. While the quarterbacks and supporting casts changed throughout the Redskins' three Super Bowl-winning teams from 1982 to 1991, Monk was the one constant. Monk set then-NFL records for catches in a season (106), most consecutive games with at least one reception (164) and career receptions (820).
Twitter vote for best No. 18 pick of past 20 years:
19. Randall McDaniel
Why we picked McDaniel: McDaniel -- a 2009 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee -- was a stalwart along the offensive line for 14 NFL seasons. He earned 12 consecutive Pro Bowl selections from 1990-2001, and started in 202 consecutive games. In 1998, he anchored an offensive line that helped the Vikings score a then-record 556 points.
Twitter vote for best No. 19 pick of past 20 years:
20. Forrest Gregg
Why we picked Gregg: Gregg anchored the offensive line for five Packers NFL championship teams. Gregg was a tough selection over the man who famously played in the entire 1979 playoffs, including Super Bowl XIV, with a broken leg, Jack Youngblood. Gregg -- a 1977 inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame -- was a warrior in his own right, playing 15 NFL seasons and finishing it as one of the best ever to ever play at his position. Legendary coach Vince Lombardi called Gregg, the "best player I ever coached."
Twitter vote for best No. 20 pick of past 20 years:
21. Randy Moss
Why we picked Moss: Moss burst onto the NFL scene with one of the greatest rookie campaigns in league history in 1998. Moss had a league-leading 17 touchdowns receiving with 1,313 yards for a Vikings team that set a single-season scoring record. In a battle of talented receivers from two different eras, we picked Moss over the Pittsburgh Steelers' Lynn Swann. Moss certainly deserves the nod, given his ability to dominate a game. Moss has caught 10 or more touchdown passes in nine seasons, including an NFL-record 23 in the Patriots' undefeated regular season of 2007.
Twitter vote for best No. 21 pick of past 20 years:
22. Ernie Stautner
Why we picked Stautner: Stautner toiled with consistently mediocre Steelers teams long before the franchise became the winning dynasty in the 1970s. As the only Pro Football Hall of Famer ever selected with the No. 22 overall pick, Stautner was an easy selection here. Stautner was a fixture along Pittsburgh's defensive line for 14 seasons, earning first- or second-team All-NFL honors in nine of those seasons. Stautner became a folk hero on a Steelers team that didn't do much winning, but was starting to earn its now-famous reputation for stout defense.
Twitter vote for best No. 22 pick of past 20 years:
23. Ozzie Newsome
Why we picked Newsome: Newsome -- a 1999 inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame -- is the only player on this all-time mock draft list to also have a hand in drafting a player that appears on this list (see No. 26, Ray Lewis). Before Newsome became one of the league's best general managers, he was the ultimate iron man tight end, playing in 198 consecutive games for the Browns, including a streak of 150 consecutive games with a reception. Newsome's 662 receptions for 7,980 yards and 47 touchdowns stood as NFL records for a tight end until Pro Football Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe topped those marks in 2001 and then Tony Gonzalez established new marks a few years later.
Twitter vote for best No. 23 pick of past 20 years:
24. Aaron Rodgers
Why we picked Rodgers: Rodgers famously fell in the 2005 draft. It was expected that he'd be selected much earlier than the No. 24 overall pick. That draft-day disappointment for Rodgers was a blessing in disguise. With a future Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback in tow, the Packers selected Rodgers to be the eventual replacement for Brett Favre. The Packers didn't miss a beat once Rodgers took over the reins. Rodgers is a five-time Pro Bowl selection, a two-time NFL MVP and -- most importantly -- led the Packers to victory in Super Bowl XLV, after which he was named game MVP.
Twitter vote for best No. 24 pick of past 20 years:
25. Ted Washington
Why we picked Washington: Washington used his 375-pound frame and competitiveness to systematically shut down opponents' running games. This four-time Pro Bowl selection and one-time Super Bowl champion (with the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVIII) was one of the NFL's most effective defensive tackles during a 17-year career spent with seven different teams.
Twitter vote for best No. 25 pick of past 20 years:
26. Ray Lewis
Why we picked Lewis: Lewis, a lock for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, was the Ravens' second first-round pick in one of the greatest draft classes of all time (Jonathan Ogden went fourth overall). Lewis quickly emerged as one of the game's greatest linebackers, earning Pro Bowl honors 13 times and All-Pro honors seven times. However, it will be Lewis' 2000 season that will define his career -- he led a defense that set records for fewest points allowed (165) and fewest rushing yards allowed (970) and earned MVP honors in Super Bowl XXXV.
Twitter vote for best No. 26 pick of past 20 years:
27. Dan Marino
Twitter vote for best No. 27 pick of past 20 years:
28. Darrell Green
Why we picked Green: Green's inspiring story of overcoming the odds to have a 20-year Hall-of-Fame career made him an easy sentimental choice at this spot. Also, what a stellar back-to-back draft haul for the Dolphins and Redskins in the 1983 draft, which ranks as one of the all-time greatest, having landed four players in this all-time mock draft. Green's accolades include seven Pro Bowls and an NFL record for intercepting a pass in 19 consecutive seasons.
Twitter vote for best No. 28 pick of past 20 years:
29. Fran Tarkenton
Why we picked Tarkenton: Tarkenton -- known for wild, exciting, zig-zagging scrambles that made for great footage for NFL Films' highlight reels -- beat out another Hall of Fame player from his era, former 49ers linebacker Dave Wilcox, who was likely on the wrong end of Tarkenton's escape artistry on a number of occasions. Tarkenton -- a 1986 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee -- was more than just a seasoned scrambler. At the time of his retirement, Tarkenton held the career passing records for attempts (6,467), completions (3,686), yards (47,003) and touchdowns (342).
Twitter vote for best No. 29 pick of past 20 years:
30. Sam Huff
Why we picked Huff: Huff -- a 1992 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee -- helped lift the profile of pro football while playing in New York for Giants teams that played in six NFL title games in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Huff was the first NFL player to grace the cover of Time magazine, and was the subject of a television special "The Violent World of Sam Huff."
Twitter vote for best No. 30 pick of past 20 years:
31. Tommy McDonald
Why we picked McDonald: McDonald -- a 1998 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee -- was selected over another Hall of Famer, Curley Culp. McDonald was a member of the Eagles' last championship team, which defeated the Packers in the 1960 NFL title game, delivering legendary coach Vince Lombardi his only playoff defeat. In college, McDonald played under coach Bud Wilkinson and never lost at Oklahoma.
Twitter vote for best No. 31 pick of past 20 years:
32. Drew Brees
Why we picked Brees: The quality of the Brees pick can be easily assessed by the sum of a famous trade the Chargers made before the 2001 draft. Possessing the No. 1 overall selection, the Chargers traded out of that slot and the selection then went to the Falcons, who promptly took Michael Vick. The Chargers then went on to fill two major needs, drafting RB LaDainian Tomlinson at No. 6 overall and then Brees 26 spots later. The Chargers would become a dominant team in the AFC West for years to come.
Twitter vote for best No. 32 pick of past 20 years: