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Top Ten Picks in the First Decade of the NFL Draft

Which Players Were Taken First Overall the First Ten Years of the Draft?

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In my reading about African Americans in professional football the other day, I somehow segued into looking at information about the earliest days of the NFL draft, which began in 1936. Today, we’re going to take a quick look at the players who were picked first overall the first ten years the draft existed. 

 

Top Ten Picks in the First Decade of the NFL Draft

USA TODAY Sports

1. Heisman winner HB Jay Berwanger was the very first player ever drafted into the National Football League. Berwanger was taken in 1936 by the Philadelphia Eagles; he never played a single game. 

 

2. In 1937, the Philadelphia Eagles took FB Sam Francis with the No. 1 overall pick. Francis played for 4 years. 

 

3. FB Corbett Davis was taken first overall by the Cleveland Rams in 1938. Davis did not play. 

 

4. 1939 saw C Ki Aldrich taken first overall by the Chicago Cardinals. Aldrich went on to have a 7 year career in the NFL. 

 

5. The Chicago Cardinals also had the first pick in the 1940 draft. With it, they selected HB George Cafego, who played for 4 years. 

 

6. In 1941, the Chicago Bears took HB Tom Harmon with the first pick in the draft. Harmon played for just 2 seasons. 

 

7. HB Bill Dudley was drafted first overall in 1942. Dudley was chosen by the Pittsburgh Steelers and had a 9 year NFL career. 

 

8. HB Frank Sinkwich was the Detroit Lions’ first pick of the 1943 draft. Sinkwich played professionally for 4 years. 

 

9. In 1944, the Boston Yanks selected QB Angelo Bertelli with the first pick of the draft. Bertelli played for 3 seasons. 

 

10. The 1945 draft saw the Chicago Cardinals take HB Charley Trippi with the first overall selection. Trippi had a lengthy career for the time, playing 9 seasons. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1968 

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