Redskins drafted Chris Hanburger in 18th round, watched him become HOFer

Chris Hanburger is Redskins' best late-round pick (1:44)

ESPN Redskins reporter John Keim says Hall of Fame LB Chris Hanburger, who was drafted in the 18th round of the 1965 NFL draft, is the franchise's best late-round pick. (1:44)

The measurements didn’t add up, and that caused Chris Hanburger to fall in the 1965 draft. He was too short, too light and not fast enough.

It was 18 rounds and 245 picks before the Washington Redskins selected Hanburger. Five years ago, he was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame.

It’s safe to say Hanburger is the best late-round pick the Redskins have ever made. In this year’s draft, the 245th pick would be made late in the seventh round. But in any era, Hanburger was a long shot to make a roster, let alone be as successful as he was.

Even in the mid-1960s, Hanburger was considered small, at 6-foot-2 and 211 pounds. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.79 seconds. Those numbers did not suggest he was about to embark on a Hall of Fame career. But he clearly ended up in the right place with the Redskins, and his career blossomed even more after George Allen became head coach in 1971.

Hanburger was the centerpiece of Washington’s defense and a key figure in the team's 1972 Super Bowl run. That season, Hanburger was named the NFC defensive player of the year. In his career, Hanburger was named All-Pro four times, and he earned a franchise-record nine Pro Bowl appearances. He played in 135 consecutive games from 1967 to 1977.

He was considered a smart, savvy player who perhaps had better athleticism than people realized. He entered the University of North Carolina as a running back but ended up starting at linebacker and center.

Hanburger often passed up going out with teammates so he could study his defensive playbook. He called the signals under Allen and became an extension of the defensive-minded coach. Teams were well aware that if they couldn’t neutralize Hanburger, their chances of success decreased.


Joe Jacoby, OT, Louisville: He was an undrafted free agent in 1981, when the draft went 12 rounds. He quickly became a fixture after starting as a rookie. Jacoby started 148 games in his career (the first eight seasons were spent at left tackle). He was named to four Pro Bowls and, for the first time, was a finalist for the Hall of Fame in February.

Larry Brown, RB, Kansas State: After he was an eighth-round pick in 1969, not much was expected of Brown. But he became the Redskins’ workhorse back in the early 1970s and was a key reason they made the Super Bowl in 1972, when he earned NFL MVP honors. Brown was named to four Pro Bowls and was first-team All-Pro twice. Brown ranks third on the franchise’s all-time rushing list, with 5,875 yards.