The 2020 NFL Draft took place over a month ago, and as the NBA, NHL and MLB continue to layout plans for their returns, each league’s respective drafts are on the forefront on many fans’ minds. The 2020 MLB First-Year Player Draft will begin tonight, and the Nationals select 22nd overall this year.
The Wizards, meanwhile, could look for some lottery luck if the team cannot manage to sneak into the playoffs after the eight-game restart. The Capitals will be eager to find another high-caliber player to beef up their prospect pool when the NHL Draft rolls around.
In light of all the draft talk, I went back to find the best players selected in every first round draft slot in Washington Redskins’ history. In other words, I wanted to find the best No. 1 overall pick in franchise history, the best No. 2 overall pick, and so on, all the way to No. 32. Granted, not every player on this list was selected in the first round of their respective drafts (the NFL did not expand to 32 teams until 2002), but since this is based on the overall selection, they qualify.
Of the top 32 selections, the most common draft slot in franchise history has been fourth overall, where the team has picked nine players all-time. The second-most common is 28th, where eight players have been selected.
On the other side of the spectrum, there is one first round draft slot that the Redskins have never occupied. From 1-32, here are the best players to be selected in each draft slot:
1- Harry Gilmer (QB/HB – 1948)
Gilmer is just one of the only two first overall picks in franchise history, the other being Ernie Davis in 1962. The Heisman Trophy-winning running back from Syracuse was swiftly traded to the Cleveland Browns because then-Redskins owner George Preston Marshall refused to integrate the team. Davis was diagnosed with leukemia that summer and died a year later without appearing in an NFL game.
Gilmer, meanwhile, is a Crimson Tide legend and College Football Hall of Famer who essentially earns this spot by default. Still, he earned two Pro Bowl appearances before being traded to the Detroit Lions in 1954.
2- LaVar Arrington (OLB – 2000)
Arrington brought a lot of excitement to Washington when he was selected second overall out of Penn State in 2000. While he didn’t make as big an impact as many predicted, Arrington was still a two-time Second Team All-Pro and three-time Pro Bowler. He was also named one of the 80 Greatest Redskins in 2012.
With Chase Young, a similarly hyped defensive star from a Big Ten powerhouse, coming to the Redskins in the exact same draft slot 20 years after Arrington, people have been drawing comparisons between the two. Hopefully Young will be able to take claim of this spot when all is said and done.
3- Charley Taylor (WR/HB – 1964)
Taylor was one of the greatest receivers of his era, as the Hall of Famer spent his entire 14-year career with the Redskins (although he missed 1976 with a knee injury). He retired with the most receiving yards in league history at the time (9,110), and he was a staple on All-NFL and Pro Bowl ballots.
4- Trent Williams (OT – 2010)
While his time in Washington came to an unceremonious end during the 2020 Draft, 10 years after he entered the NFL, Williams spent most of the decade as the team’s best offensive player. After making seven straight Pro Bowls from 2012-18, conflicts with management led to a lengthy holdout, causing him to sit out the 2019 season entirely.
Now looking to contend with the San Francisco 49ers, the end of Williams’s tenure in Washington may have ended ugly, but he is undoubtedly the best No. 4 pick in team history.
5- Sean Taylor (S – 2004)
Taylor and Brandon Scherff are the only fifth overall picks in team history; not a bad pair. Taylor was a fan favorite from the start, and his hard-hitting play style made him one of the most feared safeties in the league. He was blossoming into a superstar before he was tragically killed in his Florida home during the 2007 season.
His legacy lives on in the hearts of fans everywhere, and while Scherff may have a case in a few years, Taylor is the clear choice.
6- Sammy Baugh (QB – 1937)
Baugh was taken out of TCU and immediately made an impact, winning the NFL Championship in his first season. Baugh would go on to win again in 1942 all while revolutionizing the quarterback position. Baugh was a presence in all three phases of the game, starring as a defensive back and punter in addition to quarterback.
His number 33 is the only one officially retired by the franchise, and he was inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in its inaugural class in 1963.
7- Champ Bailey (CB – 1999)
Bailey is best-known for his 10 years with the Denver Broncos, but prior to that he made four Pro Bowls in five seasons with Washington. The Hall of Fame corner started all 80 games from 1999-2003 before he was traded for running back Clinton Portis. His place in Redskins history may be complicated (the team did not congratulate him for his Hall of Fame induction until months after the announcement), but he is still one of the greatest draft picks in team history.
8- Rob Goode (FB – 1949)
Goode is lesser known in the annals of Redskins history, but the fullback had a star run for the Redskins in the 1950s. In 1951 at 24 years old, Goode finished the season with 951 rushing yards and a league-best nine touchdowns en route to his first Pro Bowl selection. Goode went on to serve in the Korean War following that huge 1951 season, but returned in 1954 and made his second and final Pro Bowl despite rushing for just 462 yards without any touchdowns.
Goode spent the final eight games of his career with the Eagles in 1955, and never came close to the numbers he put up in ’51, so it’s worth wondering how well he would do in the two seasons he missed.
9- Andy Farkas (FB – 1938)
Farkas joined the team on the heels of their 1937 championship but was able to make an impact instantly, leading the league with six rushing touchdowns as a rookie. Farkas took a step up the following season, leading the league in scrimmage yards (984) and touchdowns (10) to earn First Team All-Pro and a Pro Bowl selection.
Farkas played just one game in 1940 and put up mediocre numbers in ’41 before bouncing back in 1942, finishing with 611 scrimmage yards and five touchdowns to earn his second First Team All-Pro and Pro Bowl nods along with the Redskins’ second NFL championship. Farkas spent the next two seasons in Washington before finishing with Detroit in 1945, but he was named one of the 70 Greatest Redskins in 2002.
10- Jack Jenkins (FB- 1943)
Jenkins played just 22 games across three seasons, having to miss the 1944 and ’45 seasons due to World War II. He came back in 1946 with a career-high 200 rushing yards and the only rushing touchdown in his entire career before ending his career with a 54-yard campaign in 1947.
The only other 10th pick in team history, Forest Evashevski (1941), never appeared in an NFL game.
11- Keith Topping (E – 1936)
Coming out of Stanford, Topping is the only 11th overall pick in team history. The 1936 Rose Bowl MVP never appeared for the Redskins, instead spending a couple seasons with the Danbury Trojans in the American Association (AA).
12- Jim Smith (DB/RS – 1968)
Smith played just one season in the NFL, but started 13 of 14 games as a return specialist. He returned six punts and three kickoffs, averaging 6.3 yards per punt return and 20.3 per kick return. He never found pay dirt on any of them, but he totaled 160 all-purpose yards in his lone season.
The only other 12th pick was halfback Ed Vereb out of Maryland (1960). The Bowie native played just nine games in 1960, totaling 157 scrimmage yards (just 38 from rushing), zero touchdowns and three fumbles.
13- Brian Orakpo (OLB – 2009)
Orakpo came to Washington with much fanfare, totaling a career-high 11.0 sacks as a rookie to earn a trip to the Pro Bowl. He made another Pro Bowl appearance in his second season before putting together a solid third season in 2011. Two separate pectoral injuries hampered his career, but he managed to make a third Pro Bowl in Washington before spending the final four years of his career with the Tennessee Titans.
In the entire history of the Washington Redskins organization, the team has never selected from the 14th overall position. They’ve selected three players 13th overall and five with 15th pick, including Da’Ron Payne (13th – 2018) and Dwayne Haskins Jr. (15th – 2019) in back-to-back years, but not a single player at 14.
15- Rod Gardner (WR – 2001)
Gardner had four solid seasons with the Redskins in the early 2000s, peaking in 2002 with 1,006 receiving yards and eight touchdowns (both career-highs). He totaled 741 yards the year prior as a rookie, and put up 600 and 650 yards in the next two seasons, respectively, before petering out of the league with three other teams by 2006.
If Haskins can develop into the long-term starting quarterback in Washington, he should be able to earn this spot with ease.
16- Ryan Kerrigan (OLB – 2011)
Kerrigan has been a lasting force on the Redskins defense, not missing a game until just last year. With 90.0 career sacks, he is just one sack away from tying the franchise record, and he will be a veteran presence on an exciting young pass rushing group. The former All-American at Purdue has made four Pro Bowls and is a defining member of the 2010s Redskins.
17- Kenard Lang (DE – 1997)
Lang was a force in Washington during his five seasons with the team. He didn’t pile up huge sack numbers, but he still made his presence known on the field. He forced at least two fumbles in three separate seasons while with the Redskins, including three in both 1999 and 2001. Lang also deflected at least four passes a year from ’99 onward. He recorded a career-high 52 solo tackles in 2002 before moving on to spend the next four years in Cleveland, then played his final season with Denver in 2006.
Tom Carter (DB – 1993) also has a case here. He spent four full seasons in Washington and started every game of the latter three seasons, grabbing no fewer than three interceptions in each season, topping out at six during his rookie year. Carter would go on to play in Chicago and Cincinnati before his career came to a close.
18- Art Monk (WR – 1980)
The Redskins have the distinction of drafting two Hall of Fame players with the 18th overall pick, the other being Paul Krause in 1964. Since Monk was the more notable Redskin, I gave him the nod.
Monk recorded five 1,000 yard seasons, and he led the league in receptions in 1984, when he made his first Pro Bowl appearance and earned First Team All-Pro. He holds the franchise record in scrimmage yards (13,053), receiving yards (12,026) and receptions (888), and his 940 career receptions was the league record at the time of his retirement.
19- Hall Haynes (DB – 1950)
Haynes spent just two seasons in Washington as a safety and punter, and he even has limited experience as a running back and returner. His playing days were interrupted by the Korean War, as he missed the 1951 and ’52 seasons. Haynes recorded four interceptions in his rookie season, taking one back for a touchdown.
20- Mark May (OG/OT – 1981)
May spent nine seasons in Washington as a member of “The Hogs,” winning two of the franchise’s three Super Bowls playing on the right side of the offensive line. He is not the most decorated of the group, but he made the Pro Bowl in 1988 and was named one of the 80 Greatest Redskins.
21- Joe Walton (E – 1957)
Walton spent four years in Washington playing on both sides of the ball, totaling at least 300 receiving yards and three touchdowns in the final three seasons, including 532 yards and five touchdowns in ’58. Walton spent the final three years of his career as a tight end for the New York Giants, where he put up similar numbers.
22- Lonnie Sanders (DB – 1963)
Sanders joins Josh Doctson (WR – 2016) as the only players to be selected 22nd overall, and with Doctson flaming out in just three seasons, Sanders is the clear pick. He was a main starter at cornerback for the first three seasons of his career, and he started all 14 games in each of his first two seasons, but was later relegated to a smaller role for the final two years.
23- John Adams (T – 1945)
While his name makes him sound like second overall pick, it’s at least somewhat fitting that he spent his entire five-year career in Washington. He was never a full-time starter on the offensive line, but he did play at least 10 games every season.
24- John Paluck (DE – 1956)
Paluck led the league as a rookie with 76 fumble return yards, taking a loose ball all the way back for a score in 1956. He recovered two other fumbles that year before missing the next two seasons for military service. He returned in 1959, where he remained a main starter on the defensive line for the next seven seasons. He made just one Pro Bowl (in 1964), but was still regarded as a top defensive player league-wide.
25- Jason Campbell (QB – 2005)
Taken just one selection after the Green Bay Packers took Aaron Rodgers, Campbell came to Washington with hopes to turn the franchise around. Campbell didn’t play a single game in his rookie season, sitting behind Mark Brunell and Patrick Ramsey. He didn’t play a full 16 games until his fourth year in 2008, where he passed for 3,245 yards, 13 touchdowns and six interceptions as the team went 8-8.
He set career-highs the following season with a 64.5 completion percentage, 3,618 yards and 20 touchdowns to go with 15 interceptions. After five years, the franchise decided to go in a different direction, ending his tenure in Washington.
26- Montez Sweat (DE – 2019)
Sweat was drafted just last year, and he put together a solid rookie campaign, where he started all 16 games. He totaled 7.0 sacks, 50 combined tackles and two forced fumbles. He still has a ways to go before establishing himself, but the first results were promising.
He earns this spot because he was just the second player to be drafted 26th overall in franchise history, and the first, Maurice Elder (B – 1937), did not play a single game in the NFL.
27- Paul Dekker (E – 1953)
Dekker played just one NFL season, recording 182 yards and one touchdown on 14 receptions across 11 games. Dekker holds the distinction of being the only Redskins player selected 27th overall, giving him this spot by default.
28- Darrell Green (CB – 1983)
Green requires little explanation, as the corner taken with the last first round pick of the 1983 Draft, right after the team had won its first Super Bowl, went on to win the team’s other two Super Bowls and become the greatest player in Redskins history. The Hall of Fame corner is the only choice here, despite there being seven other 28th picks in franchise history.
29 – Walt Yowarsky (DE – 1951)
Yowarski spent just two seasons in Washington, in 1951 and ’54, taking a two-year gap off due to the Korean War. He started all 12 games as a rookie, then started 10 games in 1954 before moving on to Detroit and the New York Giants, where he won the 1956 NFL Championship.
There were two other 29th picks: Paul Tangora (G – 1936), who never played in the NFL, and Bob Mitinger (LB – 1968), who opted to join the San Diego Chargers in the AFL instead.
30 – Markus Koch (DE – 1986)
Koch spent his entire six-year career in Washington. The German-born defensive lineman helped the team win Super Bowl XXII in the 1987 season, and he recorded a career-high 3.5 sacks the following year. While many label Sebastian Vollmer (Patriots’ OT 2009-16) as the first German to be drafted into the NFL and win a Super Bowl, it is actually Koch who earns that distinction.
31- Tre’ Johnson (G – 1994)
Johnson spent eight total seasons in Washington, leaving for Cleveland in 2001 after the first seven then returning for one last year in 2002. The guard held down a starting role for five years, earning his only Pro Bowl appearance in 1999.
32- Patrick Ramsey (QB – 2002)
Ramsey had a rough go in Washington, eclipsing 2,000 passing yards in a season just once in 2003, where he was also sacked 30 times in 11 games, the most of any quarterback who played fewer than 14 games that season. Ramsey shuffled around with Brunell on the depth chart until Campbell took over the starting role in 2006, and Ramsey was traded to the New York Jets.
(Cover Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Getty Images)