Heisman Trophy winners in the NFL: how the greatest figures in college football fared on their way to professionalism

To see in the NFL to caleb williamsthe winner of Heisman Trophy 2022we will have to wait until at least 2024. However, the professional league will have a player with great scrolls next year: Bryce Young (Alabama), who grabbed the award in 2021, will likely be in the top five picks in 2023.

The Sporting News delves into the last 20 years and presents how the players who were awarded as the best in college football have fared on the rented field. There is everything: promises that became stars, youngsters who have not performed as expected and players who were left in deep debt.

How did Heisman Trophy winners fare on their way to the NFL?

As previously mentioned, only the winners of the contest will be considered. Heisman Trophy of the last two decades, being Carson Palmer, awarded in 2002, the first of this analysis. He, selected in 2003 by the Cincinnati Bengals, is just the last USC QB to have been taken first in the Draft. Will that honor come to Caleb Williams?

Palmer spent 14 seasons in the league, but with the sad record of only having reached the Playoffs three times. He finished his career with 184 regular season appearances with 294 TDs and 187 interceptions. Poor numbers for a first global selection and with great records in the collegiate field.

More | The Complete List of Heisman Trophy Winners

Other disappointments are Sam Bradford (83 PJ), Robert Griffin III (56), Tim Tebow (35), Matt Leinart (33), Troy Smith (20) and Johnny Manziel (14). Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray are still in the league so they can turn their careers around. It is too early to categorize DeVonta Smith, awarded in 2020: the wide receiver had a good first year with the Philadelphia Eagles and is also an important piece this season for the team with the best record in the NFL.

The most paradigmatic case of those who were left in debt is that of Jason White, 2003 award winner: Was not drafted by any NFL team because of his history of knee injuries. Today he operates his own company.

While it started out the hard way, not all Heisman Trophy winners have failed their career path:

  • Mark Ingramdrafted 28th by the New Orleans Saints in 2011, is still going strong and has 65 TDs in the league.
  • cam newtonthe first pick of 2011, led the Carolina Panthers to the Super Bowl in 2015, a campaign in which he won MVP, Offensive of the Year and appeared on the first All Pro team.
  • derrick henrytaken in 45th place in 2016 by the Tennessee Titans, was chosen in 2020 as Offensive of the Year and obviously made the All Pro team.
  • lamar jackson He reached the league in 2018 (32nd pick) and in 2019 he made the All Pro team having won the MVP. He is the quarterback with the most rushing yards in a season (1,206 in 2019)
  • joe burrow He was taken by the Cincinnati Bengals in 2020 and after a first year that ended early due to injury, the QB guided the team to Super Bowl LV the following season.

It is worth clarifying that this list does not include Reggie Bushwinner of the award in 2005. The former New Orleans Saints running back repaid the award in 2010 for receiving improper benefits while playing for the University of Southern California.

Which players won the Heisman Trophy and were regular season MVPs?

The Heisman Trophy is the highest individual award in the collegiate world, while the MVP is synonymous with success in the professional field: only nine managed to take both. The aforementioned Cam Newton and Lamar Jackson are joined by Frank Sinkwich Paul Hornung, Roger Staubach, OJ Simpson, Earl Campbell, Marcus Allen and Barry Sanders.

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Heisman Trophy winners in the NFL: how the greatest figures in college football fared on their way to professionalism