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Great Redskins Drafts: A Look At 1981

Posted Apr 25, 2012

Redskins.com's Gary Fitzgerald looks back at some of the great Redskins drafts. In 1981, the Redskins drafted two future "Hogs" in Mark May and Hall of Famer Russ Grimm.


Redskins.com's Gary Fitzgerald takes a look back at some of the great Redskins draft classes in franchise history:

1981:

1. Mark May, T, Pittsburgh
3. Russ Grimm, G, Pittsburgh
4. Tom Flick, QB, Washington
5. Dexter Manley, DE, Oklahoma State
5. Gary Sayre, G, Cameron
6. Larry Kubin, LB, Penn State
8. Charlie Brown, WR, South Carolina State
9. Darryl Grant, G, Rice
10. Phil Kessel, QB, Northern Michigan
10. Allan Kennedy, T, Washington State
11. Jerry Hill, WR, Northern Alabama
12. Clint Didier, TE, Portland State


The Redskins’ 1981 draft is certainly one of the greatest Redskins drafts ever--if not the greatest. A recent NFL Network special ranked it the seventh greatest draft class of all time.

The class produced three Redskins greats, plus several starters and role players.

The group helped solidify a roster that would go on to win a Super Bowl championship in 1982.

The Redskins looked to the University of Pittsburgh for their first two selections.

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Mark May

In first-round pick Mark May, the Redskins obtained one-fifth of the great "Hogs" offensive line that dominated the 1980s.

May played in 123 games in Washington from 1981-89. He started out at right guard, where he started in Super Bowl XVIII, but eventually shifted to right tackle later in his Redskins career.

In the third round, the team went back to Pittsburgh for offensive lineman Russ Grimm, who played center and guard for the Redskins from 1981-91.

Grimm played his entire career in Washington, 140 games in all, and was a key contributor on three Super Bowl championship teams.

Grimm helped open up plenty of gaping holes for the Redskins’ ground game during the 1980s. He was a key blocker for Hall of Fame running back John Riggins on his famous 43-yard touchdown run Super Bowl XVII.

Grimm earned four consecutive trips to the Pro Bowl from 1983-86 and was named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team for the 1980s.

He finally earned induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010, cementing his status as one of the great Redskins draft picks.

In the fourth round, the Redskins looked to draft a quarterback of the future in Tom Flick from the University of Washington.

Flick never emerged, though. He played with the Redskins just one season, appearing in six games and backing up Joe Theismann.

Flick was traded to the New England Patriots in 1982 and he later played with the Cleveland Browns and San Diego Chargers in a four-year career. His career was slowed by an elbow injury and he finished with two touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 21 career games.

In the fifth round, the Redskins hit pay-dirt again with defensive lineman Dexter Manley out of Oklahoma State.

Always a high-energy player, Manley played for the Redskins from 1981-89 and most of the decade he teamed with another Redskins great in Charles Mann to lead Washington’s defensive line.

Manley helped guide the Redskins to two Super Bowl championships and he finished as the franchise’s career sacks leader with 97.5. From 1983-86, he averaged 14.5 sacks per season; in the 1986 season alone, he logged a franchise-high 18.5 sacks.

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Dexter Manley

Sixth-round pick Larry Kubin, an outside linebacker, was a backup and special teams player for the Redskins from 1982-84. He finished his six-year NFL career with Buffalo and Tampa Bay.

In the eighth round, the Redskins chose a small, wiry wide receiver out of South Carolina State in Charlie Brown. His blazing speed allowed him to have an immediate impact on the Redskins’ offense.

In 1982, Brown caught 32 passes, eight for touchdowns--good enough to earn him a Pro Bowl nod in a strike-shortened season.

In Super Bowl XVII, Brown closed out the scoring with a 6-yard touchdown pass to seal a 27-17 win.

A year later, Brown emerged as one of the top receivers in the league, catching 78 passes for 1,225 yards and eight touchdowns. He earned another Pro Bowl nod that season.

After the 1984 season, Brown was traded to the Atlanta Falcons, where he closed out his six-year NFL career. He finished with 220 career receptions and 25 touchdowns.

In the ninth round, the Redskins saw in guard Darryl Grant out of Rice a potentially dominant defensive lineman.

Grant spent his rookie campaign adjusting to playing defensive tackle, then joined the rotation in 1982.

In the 1982 NFC Championship game against the Dallas Cowboys, one of the memorable moments from the 31-17 win was Grant’s 10-yard interception return for a touchdown. Grant high-stepped his way into the end zone for the score.

Grant would go on to play in 141 games for the Redskins from 1981-90, finishing with 27 sacks and two interceptions.

His best season was 1984 when he recorded a career-high eight sacks, a lofty figure for a defensive tackle.

Tenth-round draft pick Phil Kessel, Sr., out of Northern Michigan never played for the Redskins, but did go on to play in the USFL and Canadian Football League.

A second 10th-round pick, lineman Allan Kennedy out of Washington State, was released after training camp, but he signed with the San Francisco 49ers and played in 34 NFL games from 1981-84.

The Redskins closed out the 1981 draft with tight end Clint Didier out of Portland State.

Didier would back up Redskins tight end Don Warren most of the 1980s, but saw plenty of playing time in Joe Gibbs’ offense.

From 1982-87, Didier played in 74 games for the Redskins, catching 129 passes for 1,815 passes and 19 touchdowns. His best season: 1985, when he caught a career-high 41 passes for 433 yards and four touchdowns.

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Joe Washington

In his last game as a Redskin, in Super Bowl XXII, Didier caught an 8-yard touchdown pass as Washington romped to a 42-10 win over Denver.

Didier closed out his eight-year career with the Green Bay Packers.

The story of the Redskins’ 1981 draft would not be complete without noting two more key additions.

Using their second-round pick, the Redskins made a trade to obtain Baltimore Colts running back Joe Washington.

Washington played for the Redskins from 1981-84 and was oftentimes a sparkplug for the offense while backing up Riggins.

His best season was 1981, when he logged 916 rushing yards and caught 70 passes.

After the draft, the Redskins found another future "Hog" with undrafted rookie Joe Jacoby out of Louisville.

Jacoby clawed his way into a starting job and joined Grimm to form a dominant left side of the offensive line. Jacoby starred for the Redskins from 1981-93.