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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Alex Smith
2005 NFL Draft Selection Quarterback Alex Smith #11 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images) /

No. 15 – Alex Smith, Quarterback, San Francisco 49ers, 2005 NFL Draft

It was a rough beginning with high expectations and comparisons for Alex Smith, but he has since had a strong career in the NFL. Over eight seasons in San Francisco, Smith started all 16 games just twice while he started nine or less three times. This spelled early trouble for Smith, between injuries and normal bumps for rookies, which included missing the entire 2008 season due to a shoulder injury.

It wasn’t until Smith left San Francisco for Kansas City that he started to settle in, being voted to three Pro Bowls as a Chief, including back-to-back Pro Bowl appearances in his final two seasons in KC, being 2017 and 2018, before he was traded to Washington because of someone named Patrick Mahomes.

But when you look at Smith’s tenure in San Francisco, it’s difficult to make a case for a higher spot on this list. Starting 75 games for the 49ers and playing in 80, Smith threw 81 touchdowns with 63 interceptions with a 59.3 completion percentage and 14,280 total passing yards. The biggest part of this ranking, though, is who the 49ers could have selected.

Heading into the 2005 NFL Draft, it was a two-man race to be the best quarterback in the class between Smith and Aaron Rodgers.

Having attended Cal, Rodgers was the local pick for the 49ers, and one that many believed would happen. However, the 49ers chose Smith and Rodgers tumbled to Green Bay at 24.

Now with two MVPs and a Super Bowl ring in addition to eight Pro Bowl selections and two First-Team All-Pros, it still seems as though Rodgers should have been the pick.