1. John Elway
First-round pick in 1983 NFL Draft
6'3", 215-pound quarterback
NFL playing career: Denver Broncos (1983-1998)
Did you ever think it could be anybody else?
Elway did it all as a quarterback in the NFL. He made the Hall of Fame, won two Super Bowls and a Super Bowl MVP, was named league MVP, won the Walter Payton Man of the Year award, led the league in passing yards, shattered career records and, all in all, became one of the greatest players in NFL history. NFL network named him the 29th best player in the NFL's history while pro-football-reference evaluates his career to be the 11th most value of all-time.
After spurning the Kansas City Royals and New York Yankees in two separate MLB drafts, Elway went No. 1 overall and jumped right into the thick of things, leading the league in passing attempts in just his third year. He made his first of eight Pro Bowls in 1986. He would win the NFL MVP and AFC Offensive Player of the Year in 1987 en route to a second-straight Super Bowl appearance, though he lost both.
His career ultimately took him on the track to superstardom - even after the recent era of pass-happy offenses, Elway still stands at sixth all-time in passing yards, seventh in passing touchdowns and third in game-winning drives and comebacks. His 148 eventual career wins would put him fourth in NFL history and first in Broncos history. The only gold star missing from his resume as his years in the NFL dwindled down was the elusive Super Bowl title, as he had fallen short by losing in the Super Bowl three times.
Finally, at age 37 and in his second-to-last year, Elway continued the phenomenal statistical ending to his career and also took the team to a 12-4 record and another Super Bowl berth. The king of game-winning drives took the team down the field to score the go-ahead touchdown with just 1:45 left to seal a victory over the Green Bay Packers. To top it off, Elway also won another Super Bowl and his Super Bowl MVP award in his final season, when the Broncos stomped the Falcons 34-19. Elway became the second-oldest player ever to win the Super Bowl MVP.
Stanford can lay claim to one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history thanks to John Elway.