Off the Board: Photographs of Past NFL Draftees

In light of the 2018 NFL Draft taking place this week, April 26th – 28th, we at The Unwritten Record decided to highlight some of the football related records in our Still Pictures collection.

Dating all the way back to 1936, the NFL Draft represents a time during the “off-season” when teams reload their rosters with young and skillful college players who, they believe, will become cornerstones of their respective franchises (although, as any football fan knows, that isn’t always the outcome).  Thanks to the help of my colleagues, Richie Green and Nick Natanson, I was able to unearth some interesting photos from The U.S. Information Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

This first set of photos, taken from RG 306-PS (Master File Photographs of U.S. and Foreign Personalities, World Events, and American Economic, Social, and Cultural Life, ca. 1953 – ca. 1994), highlight some star college players in action from the late 40s and early 50s.  Each of the players below would go on to be drafted into the NFL, and their likenesses provide us a great window into an era of football that helped to establish the sport’s popularity across the country.

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  • ‘Doc’ Blanchard was selected in the first round of the 1946 Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers (1946 NFL Draft).
  • Doak Walker was selected in the first round of the 1949 Draft by the New York Bulldogs (1949 NFL Draft).
  • Hugh McElhenny was selected in the first round of the 1952 Draft by the San Francisco 49ers (1952 NFL Draft).
  • Vic Janowicz was selected in the seventh round of the 1952 Draft by the Washington Redskins (1952 NFL Draft).
  • J.C. Caroline was selected in the seventh round of the 1956 Draft by the Chicago Bears (1956 NFL Draft).

The next set of images, taken in 1967, come from RG 65-H (Photographs Accumulated by FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, ca. 1933 – ca. 1972).  The first photo shows two of The All-American Football Team selections, O.J. Simpson and Larry Csonka, presenting FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover with an autographed football.  The second includes Simpson and Csonka, among others, during the presentation of The American Football Coaches Association’s “Tuss” McLaughry Award to Mr. Hoover.

Simpson, considered one of the greatest college running backs of all time, was drafted #1 overall in 1969 by the Buffalo Bills (1969 NFL Draft), and Csonka, a running back / fullback phenom in his own right, was drafted #8 overall by the Miami Dolphins in 1968 (1968 NFL Draft).

As we gear up to watch our favorite teams make their selections for the future, looking back at past legends, who helped build our favorite franchises, can be an engaging and nostalgic activity.  If you’re under 30, you might not know some of these players, but it could be a great way to strike up conversation with parents or grandparents.

…Go Pack Go!