Because of their 1-15 record in 1989, the Dallas Cowboys were supposed to have the No. 1 overall selection, but they exercised their pick in the 1989 Supplemental Draft to select Steve Walsh. Because of that pick, and two other 1989 Supplemental selections, the first round was only 25 selections.
The No. 1 pick fell to the Atlanta Falcons. Four days before the draft, the Falcons traded that pick and their fourth round selection (No. 83 overall) to the Indianapolis Colts for Chris Hinton, Andre Rison, a 1990 fifth round selection (No. 121 overall) and a first-round selection in the 1991 NFL Draft.
The Colts used the pick to select Illinois QB Jeff George. As of the 2008 Draft, George is the only Illinois player selected first overall in the common draft era.
The Dallas Cowboys selected Florida running back Emmitt Smith 17th overall in a pick acquired from the Pittsburgh Steelers, using a pick they acquired from the Minnesota Vikings in the Herschel Walker trade. Smith won Offensive Rookie of the Year in 1990 and went on to become the NFL's all-time leading rusher. Defensive Rookie of the Year honors went to Bears safety Mark Carrier, who was selected sixth overall out of USC.
1989 Heisman Trophy winner Andre Ware was selected seventh overall by the Detroit Lions.