The NFL's First Draft - 1936



Held February 8, 1936 at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Philadelphia

Bert Bell

Bert Bell

On May 19, 1935, the NFL club owners approved a plan devised by future Commissioner Bert Bell. The idea called for a draft whereby the weaker teams would have the first choice at top college prospects. The teams would draft in reverse order of their finish with the league champions from the previous season picking last.

The first NFL draft was held at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Philadelphia on Feb. 8, 1936. Since that time, there has been a college draft held every year resulting in a competitively balanced league. 

The first-ever Heisman Trophy winner, Jay Berwanger from the University of Chicago, was the first player ever taken in an NFL draft. The Eagles selected the halfback but traded his rights to the Bears. Considering pro football wasn't a very lucrative career in 1936, Berwanger never played in the NFL. 

First Round, 1936
1. Philadelphia Eagles - Jay Berwanger, B, Chicago 
2. Boston Redskins – Riley Smith, B, Alabama 
3. Pittsburgh Pirates - Bill Shakespeare, B, Notre Dame 
4. Brooklyn Dodgers - Dick Crayne, B, Iowa 
5. Chicago Cardinals - Jim Lawrence, B, TCU 
6. Chicago Bears - Joe Stydahar, T, West Virginia 
7. Green Bay Packers - Russ Letlow, G, San Francisco 
8. Detroit Lions - Sid Wagner, G, Michigan State 
9. New York Giants - Art Lewis, T, Ohio U.

Hall of Famers Taken in 1936 NFL Draft
Joe Stydahar, Tackle, West Virginia – 1st round (6th overall) by the Chicago Bears
Tuffy Leemans, Back, George Washington – 2nd Round (18th overall) by the New York Giants
Wayne Millner, End, Notre Dame – 8th round (65th overall) by the Boston Redskins
Dan Fortmann, Guard, Colgate - 9th round (78th overall) by the Chicago Bears