Ranking the 15 biggest NFL Draft steals in Washington Commanders history

The Washington Commanders franchise has secured some monumental draft steals throughout history.
Alfred Morris
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12. Dick Todd - 1939, Round No. 5

Dick Todd arrived the same year as Wilbur Moore and joined him in the dynamic backfield that would keep the now-Washington Commanders in contention for championships through the war years. He rarely ran the ball, but he soon became Sammy Baugh’s favorite target.

His quickness and open-field running was legendary. As a receiver - 15.3 career yards-per-catch with 20 touchdowns - and punt returner - 13.2 career yards-per-return with three additional scores - Todd had few equals. Baugh declared him the greatest running back he had ever seen. He also picked off 16 passes while playing defense.

11. Dexter Manley - 1981, Round No. 5

Dexter Manley came right in the middle of the greatest draft in Washington history. They had already grabbed Mark May and Russ Grimm in the early rounds, and they would go on to find Larry Kubin, Charlie Brown, Darryl Grant, and Clint Didier later.

All were important parts of the 1980s dynasty that Joe Gibbs was constructing, but Manley was special. He captivated the town. He played nine years in Washington and recorded 97 sacks for the club. His 18.5 quarterback takedowns in 1986 earned him a first-team All-Pro honor.

His deflection of Dallas Cowboys signal-caller Gary Hogeboom’s screen pass in the 1983 NFC championship game allowed Grant to score the final touchdown and seal Washington’s first trip to the Super Bowl in a decade. It remains one of the most iconic plays in franchise history.

10. Dickie James - 1956, Round No. 8

In the late 1950s, there wasn’t a lot of reason for fans to watch the football team in Washington. They were consistently among the worst teams in the league. One of the few bright spots was the 5-foot-9, 180-pound halfback out of Oregon, Dickie James.

James played his first eight seasons in Washington. Like Dick Todd before him, he made his mark as a receiver out of the backfield. Playing alongside the similarly diminutive quarterback Eddie LeBaron, the polished performer became known for his open-field running and his extreme toughness.

He returned his first kickoff as a rookie 83 yards and later that season, scored a touchdown after having his helmet ripped off by a defender who outweighed him by 50 pounds. That made him a fan favorite during some very dark seasons. When Bobby Mitchell arrived to integrate the last all-white roster in the early 1960s, he singled out James as being one of the most welcoming of all his new teammates.