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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(Photo by Nate Fine/Getty Images) Larry Brown /

Larry Brown – Former Commanders RB

  • 8th-round, 1969 NFL Draft
  • Pick No. 191 | Kansas State Wildcats

Larry Brown arrived in the eighth round from Kansas State in the 1969 NFL Draft. It was the year that O.J. Simpson went No. 1 overall. There would be 35 other running backs drafted.

Brown was the first Washington Commanders running back to gain more than 1,000 rushing yards in a season. Over the course of his first five years, he averaged more than 1,000 yards.

His galloping jaunts through defenses, whether on broken runs or after screen passes, became weekly highlights for teams that didn’t always have a lot of offensive productivity.

Brown arrived at a fortunate time. The legendary Vince Lombardi had just taken over as coach and he saw something special in the skinny back who had mostly been a blocker in college. He also was the first coach to figure out that the back had a hearing problem that hindered his play.

Lombardi had him fitted with a special helmet that contained a hearing aid, and Brown took off. Pretty soon, he had supplanted Ray McDonald, the No. 1 overall draft pick of 1967 – who was faster and outweighed him by more than 50 pounds.

The legendary coach didn’t care. He wanted the little tough guy who could actually run.

Under George Allen’s grinding style, Brown became the league MVP in 1972, leading Washington to its first Super Bowl. But the heavy usage also took its toll on the 195-pound back.

After those five magical years, injuries hit and his production fell off. He would be out of the league a few years later. But he remains number three on the franchise’s all-time rushing list, behind only John Riggins – a first-round pick of the New York Jets, and Clinton Portis – a second-round pick of the Denver Broncos.