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
Alfred Morris / Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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3. Larry Brown - 1969, Round No. 8

When the 195-pound Larry Brown joined the now-Washington Commanders out of Kansas in 1969, the team already had a recent top overall pick in Ray McDonald at running back. That didn't matter.

McDonald was faster than Brown and outweighed him by more than 50 pounds. But new coach Vince Lombardi chose the newest addition to be his starter. He wanted a running back who could run.

Brown displayed the toughness, the instincts, and the vision to go from being a platoon back in college to the NFL’s leading rusher by his second season and the NFL MVP by his fourth. He was the main offensive weapon on the first Washington team to go to a Super Bowl. When he retired after just eight seasons, he was the team's all-time leading rusher, surpassing Pro Football Hall of Famer Cliff Battles by more than 2,000 yards.

Brown remains third on Washington’s all-time rushing list.

2. Wayne Millner - 1936, Round No. 8

In the very first year of the NFL Draft, 81 players were chosen. Four would eventually be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. One of those four was Wayne Millner.

Millner, who played end on both offense and defense, paid dividends almost immediately. In the title game during his second season, he caught nine balls, gained 179 yards, and scored touchdowns on passes of 55 and 77 yards as Washington won its first-ever league championship over the Chicago Bears.

He missed three years during what might have been the peak of his career serving in the United States Navy during the war years. Nonetheless, Millner was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1968.

1. Chris Hanburger - 1965, Round No. 18

There have been a handful of players who made the Pro Football Hall of Fame as undrafted free agents, and a few who were drafted lower than Chris Hanburger (pick No. 245 in 1965) who also made it. Still, the greatest draft steal in franchise history came out of North Carolina as an undersized linebacking prospect a couple of picks after the New York Giants chose linebacker Mike Ciccolella from Dayton.

No disrespect to Ciccolella, who beat the odds to play in 35 games for New York over three seasons. But the Giants could have had Hanburger, who played 187 games in Washington, almost all of them as a starter, made nine Pro Bowls and was chosen as a first-team All-Pro three times.

Hanburger entered the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2011. He was the fifth player from his draft class to be so honored. Of the others, Dick Butkus, Gale Sayers, and Joe Namath were all first-round picks, and Fred Biletnikoff went in the third round of the NFL Draft and the second round of the AFL Draft, which is the league he chose to sign with.

Despite being selected more than 200 spots behind those fellow Canton enshrinees, Hanburger ranks as one of the greatest draft values in NFL history.