NFL Draft: Ranking the last 20 No. 1 overall draft picks

Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images /
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Carson Palmer
2003 NFL Draft Selection Carson Palmer #9 of the Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

No. 5 – Carson Palmer, Quarterback, Cincinnati Bengals, 2003 NFL Draft

The 2003 NFL Draft was also a strong one, but Carson Palmer headlined the group and rightfully so. After winning the 2002 Heisman Trophy, Palmer was the logical pick for the Bengals at the top of the draft.

Palmer spent seven seasons in Cincinnati, playing in all 16 games on five occasions. He saw a hot start to his career, being a Pro Bowler in both 2005 and 2006, but he, in a way, plateaued from there, not returning to the Pro Bowl until 2015 as a member of the Arizona Cardinals.

The 2005 campaign was Palmer’s best as a Bengal, leading the league in completion percentage (67.8) as well as touchdowns (32). However, a stumble in 2007 with a league-leading 20 interceptions, followed by an injury-shortened 2008, playing just four games, pushed the Bengals to consider other options, resulting in the eventually selection of Andy Dalton.

Palmer went on to play two seasons in Oakland followed by five seasons in Arizona, making for a solid 14-year career in the NFL, spending half of his career in Cincinnati.

By today’s standards, those numbers are rather impressive for a top pick. Even in a class that included Andre Johnson, Terrell Suggs, and Troy Polamalu, Palmer was the best pick the Bengals could have made.