Thursday September 28, 2023

Which Positions Are the Highest-Paid for NFL First-Round Picks?

  • Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford leads quarterbacks in overall career earnings.
  • Cornerbacks and wide receivers drafted in the first round also fare well in salary.
Aaron Rodgers NFL Draft
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Alabama quarterback Bryce Young is the favorite to be selected No. 1 overall by the Carolina Panthers, but predicting the rest of Thursday’s first round of the NFL Draft feels far from a sure bet.

The latest mock draft from CBS Sports has Young going first overall, with four quarterbacks predicted to be taken with the first four picks. Kentucky’s Will Levis is the Texans’ projected No. 2 pick, followed by the Lions taking Florida’s Anthony Richardson and the Colts drafting Ohio State’s CJ Stroud with the fourth pick.

Over the past 20 years since the 2003 Draft, quarterbacks have been selected with the first-overall pick 13 times—including four in the past five years. 

Since 2005, Aaron Rodgers has been the highest-earning player, raking in over $305 million. Matthew Stafford is second with over $300 million.

Front Office Sports has collected data from Spotrac to rank the most-profitable NFL offensive and defensive positions based on combined career earnings of first-round picks since 2005.

First-Round Positional Salary Rankings

RankPositionNumber Players DraftedCombined Career Earnings
1Quarterback53 players$3.5 Billion
2Cornerback70 players$2.5 billion
3Wide Receiver68 players$2.3 billion
4Defensive End59 players$2.2 billion
5Left Tackle29 players$1.96 billion
6Outside Linebacker42 players$1.95 billion
7Defensive Tackle49 players$1.9 billion
8Running Back37 players$1.1 billion
9Guard29 players$995 million
10Inside Linebacker24 players$792 million
11Tight End17 players$553 million
12Right Tackle14 players$545 million
13Free Safety10 players$496 million
14Center11 players$469 million
15Strong Safety11 players$458 million
16Tackle23 players$416 million
17Linebacker16 players$372 million
18Safety12 players$251 million
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