Blast from the Past: 1st ever NFL Draft, 1936 NFL Draft

Only four players from the first draft ever have statues in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. Who are the players? Find out in this Blast from the Past article, taken you back to the first ever NFL Draft which took place in Philadelphia back in 1936.

In 1936, the NFL held their first ever Draft, with just 9 teams, which was Held February 8, 1936 at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Philadelphia. It was an event that lasted only one day, and the entire draft was complete on February 8th. There were many interesting facts about the 1936 draft, so I figured I would put them all on paper, so you Draft history buffs, can learn something new. Check it out, it is a true Blast from the Past, it was the 1936 NFL Draft that paved the way for us to be talking about the draft today. So take a virtual trip back to 1936, right here......

There were only 9 teams in the NFL when the first NFL Draft took place. Players were not paid tons of money back in 1936, but you will learn some interesting facts, This is the first round, as you can see every pick from the first round of the draft is now dead?

1 Philadelphia Eagles - Jay Berwanger (1914-2002)

2 Boston Redskins - Riley Smith (1911-1999)

3 Pittsburgh Pirates - Bill Shakespeare (1912 – 1974)

4 Brooklyn Dodgers - Dick Crayne (1913-1985)

5 Chicago Cardinals - Jim Lawrence (1913-1990)

6 Chicago Bears- Joe Stydahar (1912-1977)

7 Green Bay Packers- Russ Letlow(1913-1987)

8 Detroit Lions - Sid Wagner (1912-1972)

9 New York Giants - Art Lewis (1911-1963)

In the 1936 NFL Draft, only four players made it to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. They were first rounder Joe Stydhar of the Chicago Bears (1967), Alphonse "Tuffy" Leemans of the New York Giants (1978), Wayne Millner of the Washington Redskins (1968), and Dan Fortmann who was also a Chicago Bear (1965).

Of the four that were inducted in the Hall of Fame, Dan Fortmann who was drafted in the ninth round as the 78th pick of the NFL Draft was the first one selected to the NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Did you know….Jay Berwanger was the first ever pick in the NFL Draft, but never played a snap in the NFL? There were only two players ever drafted first overall that never played a snap in the NFL; Berwanger didn’t play because they couldn’t meet his demands of a 1000 dollars a game, and he was released by the Philadelphia Eagles. He was claimed by the Chicago Bears, who also failed to meet the high demands. The other player who never played a down was Ernie Davis from Syracuse University. Ernie was the first pick in the 1962 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins. Ernie Davis was not only the first ever African American taken first overall, but he was the first African American player to be taken with the first overall pick and never play a game in the NFL. His rights were traded to the Cleveland Browns in 1962 and he died a year later after dying from leukemia.

Did you know…..Ernie Davis was also drafted by the Buffalo Bills of the AFL?

Two of the top 3 picks in the 1936 draft never played a snap. William "Bill" Shakespeare was the first player drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates now known as the Pittsburgh Steelers and the first Notre Dame Player ever drafted. But he is also famous for something else. Despite being drafted in the first round, professional football was not a high-paying proposition in the mid-1930s, and Shakespeare opted for a career in business rather than professional football.

The 1936 NFL Draft, was the only draft to ever have 9 rounds, it was switched to 10 rounds in 1937.

There were a total of 81 picks, and here is how it was broke down, Backs (23), Offensive/Defensive Tackles (14), Guards (12), Defensive Ends (9), Centers (6), Fullbacks (6), Tight Ends (6), Blocking Back (1), Halfback (1), Tailback (1), Wide Receiver (1), and Quarterback (1).

The only Quarterback taken in the 1936 NFL Draft was Len Barnum of West Virginia Wesleyan. He was a 6’0 QB, who weighed 200 pounds. He played for 4 years, and played for 2 NFL teams (Eagles, Giants).

The Nine teams in the 1936 NFL Draft were

Philadelphia Eagles – Who are still the Philadelphia Eagles.

Boston Redskins – Who are now the Washington Redskins.

Pittsburgh Pirates – Who are now the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Brooklyn Dodgers – Only team who never turned out as an NFL team from 1936.

Chicago Cardinals – Who are now the Arizona Cardinals.

Chicago Bears – Who are still the Chicago Bears.

Green Bay Packers – Who are still the Green Bay Packers.

Detroit Lions – Who are still the Detroit Lions.

New York Giants – Who are still the New York Giants.

If you like a good Blast from the Past, make sure to follow me on twitter @drocksthaparty

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