Which Cities Have Had Most No. 1 Overall Draft Picks?

Which Cities Have Had Most No. 1 Overall Draft Picks?
Fact Checked by Pat McLoone

With the MLB draft wrapping up last week, marking the official end of the 2023 draft season across North America’s big four professional sports leagues, we started thinking.

So, BetOhio.com – your source for Ohio betting sites - decided to take a look at which cities have had the most overall No. 1 draft picks across the NBA, NFL, NHL and MLB since 2000.

While the first overall draft pick is a hard-earned prize - “awarded” to the team with the worst record the previous season, for the most part - the No. 1 selection in a draft can transform struggling franchises. But only if you make the right pick.

Of the 96 first overall picks since 2000, below we’ve listed the cities that have kicked off draft night the most often. As the results show, this is an honor Cleveland sports fans know well.

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Most. No. 1 Overall Draft Picks Since 2000

Here are numbers and analysis you won’t find on Ohio sports betting apps.

RankCityNo. of 1st OverallDraft Picks% of 1st OverallDraft Picks
T-1Houston, TX77.3%
T-1Cleveland, OH77.3%
3Pittsburgh, PA66.3%
T-4Tampa, FL55.2%
T-4Washington D.C.55.2%
T-6Phoenix, AZ44.2%
T-6Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN44.2%
T-6Detroit, MI44.2%


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Dubious Distinction for Cleveland

All told, there have been seven No. 1 selections made by Cleveland-based sports franchises this millennium. Houston also has had seven No. 1 picks since 2000. Not bad considering neither city has an NHL franchise.

Of Cleveland’s seven first overall draft picks, four have been made by the Cavaliers in the NBA draft — including the most important pick in the history of Cleveland sports, the 2003 selection of Akron, Ohio native LeBron James.

Following two separate stints with the Cavs, James sits as the team’s all-time leader in points, assists, rebounds, and three-pointers. He also earned back-to-back MVP awards in Cleveland during the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons.

The other three No. 1 picks for the Cavs would come in the immediate aftermath of LeBron’s original departure from Cleveland in 2010. First, Kyrie Irving was drafted No. 1 in 2011. Then a pair of Canadians, Anthony Bennett and Andrew Wiggins, were picked first in 2013 and 2014, respectively. While the Canucks time on the squad was limited (Wiggins never actually played a game for Cleveland), Kyrie Irving was a centerpiece of the 2016 championship winning team, alongside a retuning LeBron James.

Don’t expect to see any top picks for the Cavs any time soon. FanDuel Ohio has the young and improving Cavs in the mix to win the Eastern Conference next season, coming in fifth at +950.

Garrett Best of Browns’ Top Picks

On the football side, the Browns received the first overall selection in the 2000 NFL draft after going 2-14 during their highly anticipated return season, which followed a four-year absence from the league.

With the pick, the Cleveland Browns selected Courtney Brown, a defensive end from Penn State. Despite recording 4.5 sacks during his first two years, Brown is largely considered a major draft bust, lasting only six years in the league and seemingly always injured.

More recently the Cleveland Browns had the first overall picks in 2017 — where they selected another defensive end in Myles Garrett — and in 2018, drafting Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield.

Mayfield failed to live up to the promise of his 27 touchdown rookie season, and was traded ahead of the 2022 offseason. After stints last year with the Panthers and Rams, he is currently competing for a starting job with the Tom Brady-less Tampa Bay Bucaneers.

For his part, Myles Garrett has been a dominant pass rusher in Cleveland since he was drafted in 2017. The four-time Pro Bowler has recorded 74.5 total sacks in his six seasons with the Browns, including 16 QB takedowns in both 2021 and 2022.

Stay close to BetOhio.com for sports betting coverage and analysis of all the state’s pro teams as well as for a few surprises. For instance, we have analysis for the 2024 Democratic and Republican nominees for president.



Jeff Parker is an Entertainment Writer for BetOhio.com. A writer for film, television and the internet, Jeff is a life long movie buff, with an actual Masters Degree in Popular Culture. He lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where he works full time as documentary filmmaker and producer.

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