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After Caleb Williams goes No. 1, USC breaks a four-way tie for the most top picks in NFL Draft history

USC once again stands alone at the top of the NFL Draft.

The Chicago Bears’ selection of Caleb Williams at No. 1 overall Thursday night gives the Trojans six No. 1 NFL Draft picks. That breaks a tie with Georgia, Notre Dame and Oklahoma for the most No. 1 picks since the NFL Draft began in 1936.

The Bulldogs made it a four-way tie at the top in 2022 when the Jacksonville Jaguars selected edge rusher Travon Walker No. 1 overall. Oklahoma had its fourth and fifth No. 1 overall selections in back-to-back seasons in 2018 and 2019 when Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray went No. 1 in consecutive seasons.

The Sooners can unofficially claim Williams as a No. 1 pick, too. Williams played his freshman season at Oklahoma before he transferred to USC prior to the 2022 season, after the Trojans hired Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley.

Notre Dame has been stuck on five No. 1 overall picks for more than five decades. Walt Patulski is the last No. 1 pick for the Fighting Irish. He went No. 1 overall in 1972.

After those four schools, Auburn and Stanford are tied at No. 5 with four No. 1 picks apiece. Cam Newton was the last Tiger to be chosen with the top pick in 2011 and Stanford’s Andrew Luck went No. 1 overall a year later. Twelve other schools have had multiple players chosen at No. 1 overall.

Here’s a brief look at the No. 1 picks from Georgia, Notre Dame, Oklahoma and USC now that USC has the most top picks of any school.

T Ron Yary (1968, Minnesota Vikings): Yary spent all but one season of his Hall of Fame career with the Vikings. He was a first-team All-Pro selection for six straight seasons from 1971-76 and started every game in the 1970s.

RB O.J. Simpson (1969, Buffalo Bills): The 1968 Heisman winner rushed for 11,236 yards and had 75 total touchdowns over an 11-year career. Simpson became one of the most infamous celebrities in the United States during the 1990s after he was acquitted of murder charges. Simpson died April 10 at the age of 76.

RB Ricky Bell (1977, Tampa Bay Buccaneers): After going defense with Selmon the year before, the Bucs looked to bolster their offense in 1977. Bell’s best season came in 1979 when he had 283 carries for 1,263 yards and seven rushing TDs. That was the only season in his six-year career where he topped 1,000 rushing yards.

WR Keyshawn Johnson (1996, New York Jets): Johnson was a three-time Pro Bowl selection and spent the first four seasons of his career with the Jets before he was traded to the Buccaneers for two first-round picks in 2000. After four seasons with the Bucs, Johnson was then traded to the Cowboys. He had 814 career catches for 10,571 yards and 64 TDs.

QB Carson Palmer (2003, Cincinnati Bengals): Palmer made the Pro Bowl in his second season as a starter in 2005 after serving as a backup during his rookie season. Palmer spent the first seven seasons of his career with the Bengals before he was traded to the Raiders and was with the Cardinals for his last five seasons. The three-time Pro Bowler threw for over 46,000 yards and tossed 294 TD passes.

QB Caleb Williams (2024, Chicago Bears): Williams transferred to USC ahead of the 2022 season after Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley was hired by the Trojans. Williams was an immediate star in Los Angeles as he won the Heisman Trophy. Williams threw 42 TDs to just five interceptions in 2022 and averaged over 9 yards an attempt in each of his three college seasons.

USC logoUSC logo
Caleb Williams
QB - USC
2023 - 2024 season
3,633
Yds
302.8
Y/G
68.6
Comp Pct
30
TD
170.1
QBRat

HB Frank Sinkwich (1943, Detroit Lions): Born in Croatia before his family moved to Ohio, Sinkwich became the first SEC player to win the Heisman Trophy in 1942. After briefly enlisting in the Marines, Sinkwich played two seasons for the Lions and was named the NFL MVP in 1944. He totaled 1,090 rushing yards over 35 games in four seasons.

HB/QB Charley Trippi (1945, Chicago Cardinals): Trippi did nearly everything during his Hall of Fame career with the Chicago Cardinals. He rushed nearly 700 times for over 3,500 yards, had 130 catches for 1,321 yards, and was 205 of 434 passing for 2,547 yards. He also punted and returned kicks; he led the NFL in all-purpose yards in both 1948 and 1949.

E Harry Babcock (1953, San Francisco 49ers): Babcock played three seasons for the 49ers and had 16 catches for 181 yards. At Georgia, he was a two-time All-SEC player and was a second-team All-American in 1952.

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - JANUARY 14: Matthew Stafford #9 of the Los Angeles Rams plays against Detroit Lions during a NFC Wild Card Playoff game at Ford Field on January 14, 2024 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
The Rams won a Super Bowl in Matthew Stafford's first season in Los Angeles. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

QB Matthew Stafford (2009, Detroit Lions): Stafford is entering his 16th season in the league in 2024 after 12 seasons with the Lions. The Rams won the Super Bowl after the 2021 season in Stafford’s first season with the team and he finished eighth in the 2023 MVP voting.

Edge Travon Walker (2022, Jacksonville Jaguars): Walker became the latest Georgia player to go No. 1 two years ago and improved mightily as a pass rusher in his second season. After netting 3.5 sacks as a rookie in 2022, Walker had 10 sacks and 10 tackles for loss in 2023.

QB Angelo Bertelli (1944, Boston Yanks): The 1943 Heisman winner played just six games that season before he was called up to the Marine Corps. Bertelli never played for the Yanks as he spent 1944 and 1945 on active duty in World War II. After the war, Bertelli played three seasons of professional football before knee injuries forced him to retire.

QB Frank Dancewicz (1946, Boston Yanks): The Yanks used their top pick two seasons later on another Notre Dame quarterback. Dancewicz played three seasons for Boston and started two of the 23 games he appeared in. He threw for 12 TDs and had 29 interceptions.

E Leon Hart (1950, Detroit Lions): Hart was a part of three title-winning teams with the Lions from 1950-57. He caught 12 touchdowns in 1951 as he was a first-team All-Pro selection. Hart finished his career with 174 catches for 2,499 yards and had 31 total touchdowns.

BALTIMORE, MD - OCTOBER 28:  Running back Paul Hornung #5 of the Green Bay Packers carries the ball against the Baltimore Colts during an NFL football game October 28, 1962 at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland. Horning played for the Packers from 1957-66. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
Paul Hornung won four NFL titles as a member of the Green Bay Packers. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

HB Paul Hornung (1957, Green Bay Packers): The Pro Football Hall of Fame was the MVP of the 1961 season. Horning rushed 127 times for 597 yards and eight TDs that season while also catching 15 passes for 145 yards and two scores. Hornung tallied over 5,000 combined rushing and receiving yards during his career as the Packers won four NFL titles.

DE Walt Patulski (1972, Buffalo Bills): Patulski played four seasons with the Bills and spent his final season with the St. Louis Cardinals. He set a career high with seven sacks in 1973 and had 21.5 career sacks.

DE Lee Roy Selmon (1976, Tampa Bay Buccaneers): Selmon racked up 78.5 sacks over the course of his Hall of Fame career. He was named the defensive player of the year in 1979 after his third straight season with at least 11 sacks. Selmon made the Pro Bowl six times and was enshrined in Canton in 1995.

RB Billy Sims (1980, Detroit Lions): The 1978 Heisman winner narrowly missed being a back-to-back Heisman winner as he finished second in the voting to USC’s Charles White a season later. His NFL career was cut short midway through his fifth season in 1984 by a devastating right knee injury. Over 60 career games, Sims rushed 1,131 times for 5,106 yards and scored 42 TDs.

QB Sam Bradford (2010, St. Louis Rams): Bradford became the second Heisman winner from Oklahoma to be selected with the top pick. He won Rookie of the Year in 2010 but struggled throughout the rest of his Rams career. After a bounce-back season in 2015 with the Philadelphia Eagles, Bradford played two seasons for the Minnesota Vikings and spent his final season in the NFL with the Arizona Cardinals in 2018.

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - JANUARY 21: Baker Mayfield #6 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers passes the ball against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on January 21, 2024 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)
Baker Mayfield had a career resurgence in 2023 as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)

QB Baker Mayfield (2018, Cleveland Browns): After a promising start to his career in Cleveland and a playoff win in 2015, Mayfield was traded to the Carolina Panthers after the 2021 season. The Panthers released him midway through the 2022 season and he spent the rest of the season with the Rams. Mayfield had a bounce-back season on a one-year deal with the Bucs in 2023 as he set career highs in numerous passing categories.

QB Kyler Murray (2019, Arizona Cardinals): Mayfield’s successor at Oklahoma was the Rookie of the Year in 2019 and made the Pro Bowl in 2020 and 2021. The Cardinals then got off to a rough start in 2022 and Murray suffered a torn ACL 11 games into the season. He returned midway through the 2023 season and completed 66% of his passes and threw for 1,799 yards over eight games.