Best-ever picks by NFL draft spot: Picks 1-4

CFB 24/7 counted down the days to the start of the 2016 NFL Draft (April 28-30 on NFL Network) by picking the best selections ever made for the top 32 draft positions.

1. Peyton Manning

Team:Indianapolis Colts
Year: 1998
College: Tennessee

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.

Last five No. 1 picks:Jameis Winston (2015, Buccaneers), Jadeveon Clowney (2014, Texans), Eric Fisher (2013, Chiefs), Andrew Luck (2012, Colts), Cam Newton (2011, Panthers)

Who owns No. 1 pick this year?Rams

Twitter vote for best No. 1 pick of past 20 years:

2. Lawrence Taylor

Team:New York Giants
Year: 1981
College: North Carolina

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).

Last five No. 2 picks:Marcus Mariota (2015, Titans), Greg Robinson (2014, Rams), Luke Joeckel (2013, Jaguars), Robert Griffin III (2012, Redskins), Von Miller (2011, Broncos)

Who owns No. 2 pick this year?Eagles

Twitter vote for best No. 2 pick of past 20 years:

3. Barry Sanders

Team:Detroit Lions
Year: 1989
College: Oklahoma State

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.

Last five No. 3 picks:Dante Fowler (2015, Jaguars), Blake Bortles (2014, Jaguars), Dion Jordan (2013, Dolphins), Trent Richardson (2012, Browns), Marcell Dareus (2011, Bills)

Who owns No. 3 pick this year?Chargers

Twitter vote for best No. 3 pick of past 20 years:

4. Walter Payton

Team:Chicago Bears
Year: 1975
College: Jackson State

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.

Last five No. 4 picks:Amari Cooper (2015, Raiders), Sammy Watkins (2014, Bills), Lane Johnson (2013, Eagles), Matt Kalil (2012, Vikings), A.J. Green (2011, Bengals)

Who owns No. 4 pick this year?Cowboys

Twitter vote for best No. 4 pick of past 20 years:

Follow Jim Reineking on Twitter @jimreineking.

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