Many college football fans watch every year to see where that season’s Heisman Trophy winner will be playing in the National Football League. Sometimes these award winners get drafted highly and sometimes they don’t. Some go on to incredible careers, and some do not. Though the Heisman Trophy is very prestigious, it is not always a solid indicator of how a player will play in the NFL.
Here is a look at nine interesting facts regarding Heisman Trophy winners in the NFL Draft.
#1 – The Motor City Likes Its Heismans
No NFL team has drafted more Heisman Trophy winners than the Detroit Lions have. Over the years in the NFL Draft they have chosen ten former winners of the award. The players they selected are: Larry Kelley (1937), Clint Frank (1938), Frank Sinkwich (1943), Glenn Davis (1947), Leon Hart (1950), Howard “Hopalong” Cassady (1956), Steve Owens (1969), Billy Sims (1980), Barry Sanders (1989), and Andre Ware (1990).
#2 – Only Three?
Only three players have won the Heisman Trophy and then not been selected in the NFL Draft by any team. This first happened in the late 1950’s when Army’s running back Pete Dawkins, the 1958 Heisman Trophy winner, was passed over. It wouldn’t happen again until 1994 when Florida State’s quarterback Charlie Ward, who won the award in 1993, chose the National Basketball Association over the NFL. It happened again in the early 2000’s when Oklahoma’s quarterback Jason White, who won the Heisman in 2003, went undrafted.
#3 – A Player So Nice He Was Drafted Twice
Very few players have been, and only one Heisman Trophy winner was, chosen twice in the NFL Draft. In 1986 Bo Jackson, who won the award in 1985 while at Auburn, was drafted with the first overall pick in the draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Bo sat out that season and instead of playing football, played baseball in the Kansas City Royals organization. Because he hadn’t signed with any football team, he was eligible to be drafted again in the 1987 draft. The Raiders used the 15th selection of the seventh round to draft him and that is the team he would go on to star for before being cut down by injury.
#4 – Back To Back!
Only three teams have drafted Heisman Trophy winners in back to back years. The Detroit Lions did it first by taking Larry Kelly and in 1937 and Clint Frank in 1938, these were the second and third NFL Drafts ever. The Buccaneers did it by selecting Bo Jackson in 1986 and then Vinny Testaverde in 1987. Then the Lions did it again by taking Barry Sanders in 1989 and then Andre Ware in 1990.
#5 – More Than One Available.
Through 2010, there have been ten times that more than one Heisman Trophy winner has been drafted in the same year. This first happened in 1943 when the Lions chose Frank Sinkwich and the Rams picked Les Horvath. It happened again in 1946 when the Steelers selected Doc Blanchard and the Bears chose Johnny Lujack. It would then happen a third time in 1952 when the Redskins chose Vic Janowicz and the Bears picked Dick Kazmaier. It wouldn’t happen again until 1965 when the Jets picked John Huarte and the Bears picked Steve DeLong. It occurred again in 1980 when the Lions chose Billy Sims and then the Browns picked Charles White. 1985 saw the Cowboys draft Herschel Walker and the Rams choose Doug Flutie. 1987 saw Vinny Testaverde get drafted first overall and Bo Jackson get drafted for a second time. In 1992, the Packers chose Ty Detmer and the Redskins selected Desmond Howard. In 2006, the Saints selected Reggie Bush and the Cardinals picked Matt Leinart. In 2010 the Rams picked Sam Bradford and the Broncos chose Tim Tebow.
#6 – Heisman Trophy Winner Drought
The longest span of years in between Heisman Trophy winners being drafted is two years. No award winners were drafted in back to back drafts in 2004 and 2005, and then again in 2008 and 2009.
#7 – We Don’t Need A Heisman Trophy Winner!
Through 2010, only five NFL franchises belong in the list of teams that have never drafted a Heisman Trophy winner. They are the Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins, San Diego Chargers, and Seattle Seahawks.
#8 – The Best Of The Heisman Winners
Only eight players have ever won the Heisman Trophy and then as of 2010 gone on to be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. They are: Doak Walker, Paul Hornung, Roger Staubach, O.J. Simpson, Tony Dorsett, Earl Campbell, Marcus Allen, and Barry Sanders.
#9 – Hey, I’m Still Technically Available!
18 different players have won the Heisman Trophy and then gone on to be selected in the NFL Draft with the first overall pick. The lowest a Heisman Trophy winner has ever been chosen was in the 11th round with the 285th overall pick. This occurred in 1985 when the Los Angeles Rams used a late pick to choose Doug Flutie who had already committed to playing in the USFL.