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Washington's 10 Most Tubular Draft Picks Of The 1980s

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(Photos taken by the Associated Press)

The views and opinions expressed in this article do not reflect the opinion of the team. Also, the following players are listed in no particular order and not intended to be ranked against each other.

There is no doubt about it: the 1980s were a golden age for Washington.

There is a reason head coach Ron Rivera wants to resurrect the success Washington had at that time: the franchise was one of the NFL's powerhouses. With Hall of Fame coach Joe Gibbs leading the burgundy and gold, the team made five postseason appearances, won four division titles and secured three Super Bowl trips, two of which ended with it hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.

But even more impressive than the postseason honors were the players Washington drafted to earn them. Those years were full of players, from Hall of Famers to late-round gems, who turned into key pieces of the team's success. It would be impossible to highlight every draft pick Washington made from that time, but here are 10 of the best from one of the best decades in franchise history.

G Russ Grimm: 3rd round (69th overall) in 1981

  • 4x Pro Bowler (1983-86)
  • 3x first-team All-Pro (1983-85)
  • 3x Super Bowl champion (1982, 1987, 1991)
  • Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee (2010)

It is hard to imagine Washington's offensive line in the 80s without Russ Grimm helping hold down the interior for 11 seasons. A founding member of Washington's renowned "Hogs," Grimm paved the way for several running backs, most notably Hall of Famer John Riggins, who rushed for 4,530 yards and 62 touchdowns in the five seasons he played with Grimm and "the Hogs."

Grimm's best stretch of his career was from 1983-86, during which he was voted to the Pro Bowl four times and named a first-team All-Pro selection three times. Grimm only missed one game in that stretch while the offense averaged 143 rushing yards per game. Grimm was inducted into to the Hall of Fame in 2010.

WR Charlie Brown: 8th round (201st overall) in 1981

  • 2x Pro Bowler (1982-83)
  • 1982 Super Bowl champion

Charlie Brown only played in Washington for three seasons, but they were certainly memorable ones. He was able to show off his talent in his second season, as he made 32 receptions for 690 yards and eight touchdowns in 12 games, one of which was during Super Bowl XVII. He caught six passes for 60 yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown that put the game out of the Miami Dolphins' grasp.

The following year was even better with 78 receptions for 1,225 yards and eight scores, all of which were career highs. His 1983 season still stands as the 11th-best for a receiver in franchise history.

DE Dexter Manley: 5th round (119th overall) in 1981

  • 1986 Pro Bowl, first-team All-Pro
  • 2nd on all-time official franchise sack list (91.0)

Until last year, Dexter Many sat atop Washington's all-time official sack list for three decades. A fifth-round pick out of Oklahoma State, Manley was a terror for opposing quarterbacks with double-digit sacks in four straight seasons. His best statistical season came in 1986, when he racked up 18.5 sacks and returned a fumble for a touchdown. That was more than enough to earn the Pro Bowl nod and first-team All-Pro selection that came at the end of the season.

Sacks did not officially become a recorded stats until 1982 -- the year after Manley had 6.0 sacks during his rookie season -- but once they did, the numbers only further cemented Manley's status as one of the best pass-rushers in league history.

QB Mark Rypien: 6th round (146th overall) in 1986

  • 2x Pro Bowler (1989, 1991)
  • 1991 Super Bowl champion
  • 5th on all-time franchise passing yards list (15,928)

Rypien did not exactly have the best start to his professional career; he spent his first two seasons on Injured Reserve and only appeared in nine games in his third. He was finally named the starter in 1989 and was an immediate success with 3,768 yards, 22 touchdowns and 13 interceptions, which earned him a Pro Bowl appearance. Two seasons later, he led Washington to the Super Bowl with 3,564 yards and 28 touchdowns, as the team went on to defeat the Buffalo Bills.

Rypien played six seasons for Washington, and many of his stats speak for themselves. He compiled a 45-27 record and is fifth on the franchise's all-time passing yards list. When it comes to signal-callers, few were as reliable for Washington as Rypien.

CB Darrell Green: 1st round (28th overall) in 1983

  • 7x Pro Bowler (1984, 1986-87, 1990-91, 1996-97)
  • 1991 first-team All-Pro
  • 2x Super Bowl champion (1987, 1991)
  • Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee (2008)
  • Most career interceptions (54) in team history

Darrell Green isn't just one of the best cornerbacks to play for Washington; he's objectively one of the best in NFL history. A track star in college, Washington snatched Green in the first round and reaped the rewards for two decades. His seven Pro Bowls were impressive, but the fact that he earned them at markedly different phases of his career only raised that prestige. His last two came when he was 36 and 37 years old, as he combined for 116 tackles and four interceptions in that span.

His 54 interceptions are the most in team history by a large margin, and he owns a slew of NFL records, notably being the oldest player with an interception returned for a touchdown, having the most games played by a defensive player and recording the most consecutive seasons with an interception. He also won the NFL's Fastest Man competition four times. No matter how you look at it, Green is one of a kind. Green was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2008.

OL Raleigh McKenzie: 11th round (290th overall) in 1985

  • 2x Super Bowl champion (1987, 1991)
  • 1991 All-NFL Team
  • Started in 113 games over 10 seasons

In terms of longevity and durability, former 11th-round pick Raleigh McKenzie is one of Washington's better examples. He was mostly a reserve player during his rookie season, appearing in only six games, but he eventually became a key piece of the team's offensive line for the next nine seasons.

In addition to being part of Washington's 1987 and 1991 Super Bowl runs, he was named to the All-NFL Team in 1991. It's easy to see why he was deserving of that honor, as Rypien was only sacked seven times while the offense rushed for more than 2,000 yards and 21 touchdowns.

WR Art Monk: 1st round (18th overall) in 1980

  • 3x Pro Bowler (1984-86)
  • 1984 first-team All-Pro
  • 3x Super Bowl champion (1982, 1987, 1991)
  • Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee (2008)
    Most career receiving yards (12,026) in team history

When it comes to Washington wide receivers, the undisputed most productive is former first-round pick Art Monk. He was sure-handed from the start of his rookie season, catching 58 passes for 797 yards and three touchdowns, but the best stretch of his career came from 1984-86, when he had three straight 1,000-yard seasons and 13 scores.

Not only did he contribute to all three of Washington's Super Bowls, but he is the franchise's all-time leader in yards (12,721) and receptions (888). Even after he reached his mid-30s, Monk was still a productive player with 1,042 yards and five touchdowns in his final two seasons. Monk was elected to the Hall of Fame alongside Green in 2008.

DE Charles Mann: 3rd round (84th overall) in 1983

  • 4x Pro Bowler (1987-89, 1991)
  • 3x Super Bowl Champion (1987, 1991, 1994*)
  • 3rd on all-time official franchise sack list (82.0)

Having Manley on defense harassing quarterbacks was one thing, but pairing him with Charles Mann, another prolific pass-rusher in Washington's history, simply made things unfair for offenses at times. It could have been difficult to find ways for both Manley and Mann to thrive on the same unit, but Gibbs and Washington's coaches found a way for them to complement each other. The duo combined for 58 sacks in 1985 and 1986. Adding to that was Mann's uncanny ability to create turnovers. He left Washington with 17 forced fumbles, the most in franchise history. After Manley signed with the Phoenix Cardinals in 1990, Mann played in Washington for four more seasons and recorded 22.5 sacks during that time, which at the time pushed him to second behind Manley in all-time official sacks.

*Mann won his final Super Bowl with the San Francisco 49ers.

DT Darryl Grant: 9th round (231st overall) in 1981

  • 2x Super Bowl champion (1982, 1987)
  • Recorded 27.0 sacks over 10 seasons

Darryl Grant was drafted as an offensive guard when Washington took him in the ninth round. But then the coaches switched him over to defensive tackle, and he eventually became a pivotal piece to the front along with Manley, Mann and Dave Butz.

Grant had a solid career in Washington with 141 games and 27.0 sacks over 10 seasons. However, fans might remember him best for grabbing his first-career interception, which he returned for a touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys in the 1982 NFC Championship. The play put Washington up 31-17 and allowed the team to advance to Super Bowl XVI against the Miami Dolphins.

WR Gary Clark: 2nd round (55th overall) in 1984 Supplemental Draft

  • 4x Pro Bowler (1986-87, 1990-91)
  • 1987 first-team All-Pro
  • 2x Super Bowl champion (1987, 1991)
  • 4th on all-time franchise receiving yards list (8,742)

Monk might be Washington's best statistical wide receiver, but Gary Clark is not far behind him. Clark, who played two seasons in the USFL before being taken by Washington in the second round of the 1984 supplemental draft, quickly established himself as one of the team's go-to receivers with 72 receptions for 926 yards and five touchdowns. He followed that up with back-to-back Pro Bowl seasons and a first-team All-Pro selection in 1987.

His best performance, though, came in 1991 as he led the team with 1,340 yards and 10 touchdowns, helping Washington win Super Bowl XXVI. In the eight seasons Clark was with Washington, he had five 1,000-yard seasons and never dipped below 800 yards.

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