5 greatest-value NFL Draft picks in Washington Commanders history

(Photo via Getty Images) Brian Mitchell
(Photo via Getty Images) Brian Mitchell /
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Wayne Millner – Former Commanders WR

  • 8th-round, 1936 NFL Draft
  • Pick No. 65 | Notre Dame Fighting Irish

The franchise now known as the Washington Commanders won their first league title in 1937. In that game, Wayne Millner caught nine balls for 160 receiving yards and two long touchdowns.

Both trips to the end-zone brought Washington back from a deficit to tie before Ed Justice scored the winning touchdown late in the fourth quarter.

Millner’s career numbers don’t look like much compared to modern receivers. But there are several qualifiers that put those stats into perspective.

The NFL in its earliest decades was a running and defense league. The forward pass was still a new toy, not yet perfected. With the exception of Don Hutson of the Green Bay Packers, no wideout in that era consistently produced big numbers.

And Millner’s stats suffered from the fact that the Sammy Baugh-led offense was the 1930s equivalent of Bill Walsh’s West Coast offense. Washington spread the ball around.

Millner would retire as the leading receiver in franchise history. But he rarely led his own team in any given season, such was the depth among Washington’s pass catchers.

Millner also sacrificed three prime seasons to serve in the Navy during World War II. Something a number of players did in the 1940s with very little fanfare.

In addition to being one of the best of the early pass receivers, Millner’s blocking prowess was well-established, and he was considered an excellent defensive player as well. His all-around game was so admired that he was elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1968.