De-Mystifying The Inaugural AFL Draft

By Jerry Knaack
Oakland Raiders Historian

 

League founder and owner of the Dallas entry, Lamar Hunt, indicated early on that the Draft would be key in the formation of the new league, but details had yet to be worked out.

“‘We’ll try to beat the National Football League on their draft,’ Hunt said, indicating a race for top talent on the college campuses this fall.

The Texan said no one had any idea how many players would be placed on the AFL draft list. But the league clubs ‘will bid against’ the NFL and Canadian clubs for the top players, he said.”

On Sept. 11, UPI reported that Barron Hilton, owner of the Los Angeles entry, was heading up a committee to select the league commissioner and was due to make a recommendation at meetings in Los Angeles. Adding two more teams to the league to reach the desired number of eight was also to be discussed. Seattle, Buffalo, New Orleans, Kansas City, St. Louis. Louisville and Miami were under consideration.

The new league and its owners had numerous decisions to make if they were to make their debut on the gridiron in the fall of 1960. By late October 1959, the AFL still did not have a commissioner in place. According to an Oct. 24 Associated Press (AP) article University of Michigan Athletic Director Fritz Crisler was a top candidate for the post.

The following week, the AFL held meetings in New York. An Oct. 29 UPI item indicated that the AFL had not named a city for the eighth and final franchise for the inaugural season, nor did the league name a commissioner.

A Nov. 1 AP story reported that on Oct. 31, the AFL announced that the first Draft would take place Nov. 23.

“Max Winter, chairman of the draft committee, said the first few picks will be made on a territorial basis. The New York entry, for instance, would have first choice of players in its territory, Houston and Dallas would be given the Southwest privileges, and so on.

Another innovation would be the selection by positions. . . . Backs, ends, centers, tackles, guards.

 “Under the AFL draft rules as announced last night in Minneapolis each of the eight teams will have the right to select as its first choice any college senior whose school is within a 100-mile radius of the selecting team.”

Jim Klobuchar’s Nov. 22 AP article probably explained the AFL’s novel inaugural draft-by-position concept best.

To make sure that all the clubs get a hard core of over-all strength – in the draft if not under contract – the plan is to fill all 11 squads’ positions for each team in the first 11 rounds, held in open session.

After that the league heads go into closed session to complete the draft. The order of draw will be determined by lot.”

“Squads’ positions” here meaning offense.

UPI followed that story up with the first reports of the results of the first day of the AFL Draft, which took place Nov. 22 in Minneapolis.

“The American Football League headed into its first draft meeting today in a state of confusion.

League spokesmen spent much of their time Sunday denying reports that backers of the newly-formed AFL's Minneapolis-St. Paul franchise were pulling out.

Charles Johnson, executive sports editor of the Minneapolis Star and Tribune, said a local group which had accepted an AFL franchise was withdrawing to accept a franchise for 1960 in the National Football League.

The report was denied by Lamar Hunt, holder of the American League's Dallas franchise and principal organizer of the AFL.”

This story also reported that the league decided to shelve the idea of "territorial" selections and possibly employ the concept for the 1961 AFL Draft. The National Basketball Association used a similar system from 1949 – 1966. This would explain why original AFL teams typically don't separate out their first or "territorial" pick.

The first selections in each AFL team’s history, in alphabetical order by team, were as follows:

Boston: Gerhard Schwedes, halfback, Syracuse

Buffalo: Richie Lucas, quarterback, Penn State

 “The first player selected by the AFL was Southern Methodist’s star quarterback Don Meredith, picked by Dallas.” - Associated Press, Nov. 23, 1959

The AP reported on Nov. 23 that Minneapolis-St. Paul would “stick with” the AFL. This article was also one that stated that Meredith was the first overall pick.

“The first player selected by the AFL was Southern Methodist’s star quarterback Don Meredith, picked by Dallas.”

And included this ambiguous sentence:

“Quarterback George Izo of Notre Dame was picked off by the New York Titans in a coin flip with Los Angeles and Minneapolis-St Paul.”

A Nov. 24 AP article further clouded the Minneapolis-St. Paul situation.

Lamar Hunt was quoted as saying: “It’s unfortunate that the National League has chosen to muddy the water,” a reference to the clouded future of Minneapolis-St. Paul.

“In a story in Monday's Star, Sports Editor Charles Johnson said the Twin Cities have their choice of a franchise in either league. Johnson has been the local negotiator with the NFL.”

Accounts indicate the Minneapolis-St. Paul group’s flirtation with the NFL destabilized their stadium situation. Further accounts indicated a heated exchange ensued as news of the possible defection broke on the eve of the AFL Draft.

Nevertheless, I’ll insert the first 11 draft choices of the Minneapolis-St. Paul AFL entry here, by position as reported by the AP, made Nov. 22, 1959.

Dale Hackbart, QB, Wisconsin

Carroll Dale, E, Virginia Tech

Don Norton, E, Iowa

Michael Wright, T, Minnesota

John Wilcox, T, Oregon

Jerry Stalcup, G, Wisconsin

Earl Kohlhaus, G, Penn State

Maxie Baughan, C, Georgia Tech

Abner Haynes, HB, North Texas State

Silas Woods, HB, Marquette

Neil MacLean, FB, Wake Forest

This process was repeated for another two rounds the next day giving each team 33 draft choices total.

On Nov. 24, H.P. Skoglund, part owner of the Twin Cities franchise, was quoted in a published report in the Oakland Tribune as saying:

“We will be playing football in the American League next year and we have no intention of going into the National.”

On Nov. 25 Dallas News, via Austin Daily Texan, reported:

“Haynes, the North Texas State flash from Dallas, was taken by Minneapolis-St. Paul group, and Don Rossi, administrative assistant to Lamar Hunt, owner of the Dallas franchise, immediatelyannounced that he would try to make a trade for the slippery ball-carrier.”

That same article also indicated that Minneapolis-St. Paul would remain part of the AFL.

“Also at the meeting a note of harmony seemed to again be prevalent, as the owner of the Minneapolis-St. Paul franchise, E. W. Boyer, Minneapolis Auto Dealer, announced that he would stay in the AFL.

He did admit, however, that the NFL had approached him with an offer that four weeks ago he would probably have received with open arms.

Boyer also denied that Max Winter, one of the partners of the Minneapolis group, was pulling out of the combine.

There were still some stubborn rumors, however, that Minneapolis would wind up in the NFL.”

UPI reported on Nov. 25 that the case of the Minneapolis-St. Paul franchise and its possible defection to the NFL was a bit more contentious.

“E. W. Boyer, who with H. P. Skoglund holds the twin cities franchise, assured the owners that they would remain in the American League, that they had sufficient financial backing and that they could play in either Midway Stadium in St. Paul or Metropolitan Stadium in Minneapolis.

Earlier a third member of the group, Max Winter, left the AFL meeting after it was announced that he and his associates would accept a National League franchise offer.

However, the league refused to accept their withdrawal and Winter later reportedly rejoined the group.”

League business continued and according to a Nov. 26 UPI story, Houston’s AFL entry made the first personnel move of the young league.

“[Bud] Adams also announced the first draft swap between two AFL teams. He traded his draft of College of Pacific halfback Dick Bass for the Los Angeles Chargers’ hold on Aggie quarterback Charlie Milstead.

‘Frank Leahy (of the Chargers) wanted Dick Bass so badly for the Los Angeles Club that he almost jumped out of his chair when I drafted him, so it wasn’t hard for us to work up a trade.’”

At the conclusion of the first part of the AFL Draft, the choosing of what has become known over the years as “First Selections,” AFL owners began the process of trying to sign their draft choices. Numerous news outlets referred to the AFL’s draft as “opening up a possible pro football war.” A Mansfield News Journal sports page headline trumpeted, “AFL Opens War With 33 Choices.”

In the middle of all of this, the NFL, which had staunchly resisted expansion, now felt the need to expand as George Halas of the Chicago Bears had been discussing the possibilities of the Minneapolis-St. Paul AFL group jumping ship and joining the NFL, and the league itself now wanting to put a franchise in Dallas to compete with Hunt’s AFL entry. This information is part and parcel to the story of the Draft and only mentioned here to give context to what happened next.

The NFL held its Draft on Nov. 30 in Philadelphia. The Bears selected Don Meredith in the third round of the NFL Draft and traded him to what would become the Dallas Cowboys. The AFL named Joe Foss its first commissioner that same day.

On Nov. 30, UPI reported:

“Although the new league got the jump in holding its draft first, the old circuit landed the first ‘name’ star Sunday when quarterback Don Meredith of Southern Methodist signed a ‘personal contract’ with the operators of a proposed Dallas franchise in the National League.

Meredith signed with Bedford Wynne and Clint Murchison, Jr., who have been promised an NFL franchise in Dallas.

Wynne said NFL owners assured him his contract with Meredith would be honored if and when Dallas is voted into the league, possibly at its regular January meeting.”

Halas, who selected Meredith in the third round of the NFL Draft, honored that agreement by trading Meredith to the Cowboys in exchange for a Draft pick. Meredith chose the Cowboys over the Texans.

On Dec. 9, the Sporting News further clarified Meredith’s status in Joe King’s article on the NFL Draft.

“Meredith was not selected by an NFL team until the third round when George Halas, expansion advocate, tabbed him. Halas, of course, was not disregarding the personal contract held by Murchison. The pick merely cleared the way for Meredith to play in the NFL, with Murchison’s consent, if it became necessary to defer the entry of Dallas into the older circuit until 1961.”

The AP’s Ralph Bernstein wrote on Dec. 1:

“The National Football League won the first round of the expected player war with the new American Football League Monday, drafting and tying up two lop college stars.

The first two selections in the annual NFL draft meeting — Billy Cannon of Louisiana State and George Izo of Notre Dame—have agreed to play in the 40-year-old NFL.”

Cannon would eventually sign with the Houston Oilers and win a lawsuit against the NFL securing his ability to play in the AFL for the Oilers, but Izo ended up playing in the NFL from 1960 – 1966. He was selected second overall in the NFL Draft by the then-Chicago Cardinals, who moved to St. Louis before the start of the 1960 season.

This was just the beginning of the battle for players between the two leagues and within the AFL itself. And the battle for the Twin Cities raged on.

In a Dec. 1 item that appeared in Oakland Tribune regarding the NFL Draft:

“Prior to the draft, the owners held an informal meeting to hear an expansion report by George Halas, Bears' owner and chairman of the expansion committee. Although most of the owners, and acting commissioner Austin Gunsel were quiet on what was discussed these facts were learned from reliable sources:

Dallas and Minneapolis-St Paul are still interested and being considered for franchises. The league at its annual meeting in January' will try to amend its constitution to make a 10/12ths instead of unanimous vote necessary for approval of expansion.”

That story also confirmed Halas’ intentions with Don Meredith.

“Halas, for the good of the league, drafted quarterback Don Meredith, a Texas football hero, is placing him in mothballs for a new Dallas franchise if it makes the grade.”

The second part of the AFL’s draft is shrouded in mystery, at least from what was publicly reported. What became known as the “Second Selections” were made Dec. 2. Articles originating from the AFL’s home office in Dallas reported that 161 additional picks were made and that the draft was complete. No information about the procedures was made public. However, it stands to reason that procedures similar to the “First Selections” were used to make the “Second Selections.”

A Dec. 3 AP story described it this way:

“He [Lamar Hunt] disclosed the eight AFL clubs have named 161 more college players as prospects. These are in addition to the 20 picked by each club in its draft rounds earlier — many of whom also are sought by NFL or Canadian pro clubs, or both.

‘This concludes our draft.’ Hunt said. "Each club now has the right to negotiate for the services of 53 players, representative of every section of the country.’”

And that is pretty much all the information that was put forth publicly regarding the second phase of the first AFL Draft.

On Dec. 4, the Denton Record Chronicle reported that the Dallas Texans had acquired Haynes and that the stand-out running back would indeed sign with the Texans after the Sun Bowl on New Year’s Eve.

“NTSC’s Abner Haynes has decided to play professional football with the Dallas Texans in the American Football League. Drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the National Football League and the Minneapolis-St. Paul entry in the AFL, Haynes decided to pick the new AFL as his choice for aplace to play. In order to play in Dallas, the Texans of Lamar Hunt traded a future draft choice to the Minneapolis-St. Paul team for Haynes’ services.”

By Dec. 10, Oakland-native and former Stanford star wide receiver Chris Burford, who was drafted by the Texans, signed with that club. Later he would indicate a preference to play for Oakland, but a trade was never worked out and Burford played for the Dallas Texans/Kansas City Chiefs from 1960 – 1967.

By the end of December 1959, Minneapolis-St. Paul was gone.

Minneapolis-St. Paul officially left the AFL as an announcement was published Jan. 4, 1960, with the franchise owners finally enticed by the NFL. They would eventually start play in 1961 as the Minnesota Vikings.

On Jan. 1, 1960, it was announced Abner Haynes had officially signed with the Dallas Texans.

Oakland quickly emerged as a candidate to replace the Twin Cities. Scotty Stirling wrote the following in a Jan. 4, 1960, Oakland Tribune front page story:

“Oakland is one of four cities being considered for the eighth and final franchise in the new professional American Football League. Lamar Hunt, Dallas, Tex., millionaire who founded the new loop, confirmed today that Oakland, Miami, Atlanta and Jacksonville, Fla., have been proposed for franchises.”

Quite a bit happened in the month of January 1960.

As early as Jan. 18, the Oakland Tribune’s Scotty Stirling wrote that AFL officials had already determined what to do with the Minneapolis-St. Paul draft class to stock the roster for a potential club in Oakland.

“First of all, the league's eighth franchise will automatically take over the draft choices of the Minneapolis-St. Paul group which was forced to drop out of the league. The draft was held several weeks ago when the Twin Cities area appeared set for the league.” - Scotty Stirling, Oakland Tribune

By Jan. 26, 1960, the AFL kicked off a round of meetings in Dallas to finally determine where to put the eighth franchise. After several rounds of voting, and favor shifting away from Atlanta, Oakland was awarded the eighth AFL franchise Saturday, Jan. 30, 1960, with the announcement printed in the paper the next day.

The AFL transferred the Minneapolis-St. Paul draft class to the new Oakland franchise.

On March 2, Scotty Stirling’s Oakland Tribune story indicated that Abner Haynes was indeed one of the players on the list to transfer to Oakland and corroborated the AFL’s plan to transfer the Minneapolis-St. Paul draft class to Oakland.

“All the Twin-Cities draftees including the dozen already signed, will automatically become Oakland property, according to Milt Woodard assistant commissioner of the league. ‘All the clubs realize that Oakland must have its share of the top players to maintain competitive balance in the league,’ Woodard told The Tribune today. ‘The dozen players that are signed will automatically go to Oakland, plus any others on the draft list that that the Oakland team can sign.’

There are some fine players on the Twin-Cities list, including Iowa end Don Norton —signed by the L.A. Chargers —and Abner Haynes of North Texas State. Haynes was the leading ground gainer in the nation last fall, but the Dallas club — with whom Haynes has signed a contract, claims the speedster was ‘traded’ before Oakland got a franchise.

On March 3, that round of AFL meetings kicked off at the Leamington Hotel in Oakland. It was determined that 14 players who were originally selected by Minneapolis-St. Paul in the AFL draft, and were “signed by fellow AFL clubs for Oakland,” would transfer to the newly-minted franchise. Ten other players from that draft class signed with the NFL, six opted to play in Canada, while others opted to play baseball or not play pro football at all.

On March 3, Scotty Stirling of the Oakland Tribune followed up his March 2 article with this:

“Among the other well-known players assigned to Oakland are Abner Haynes of North Texas State, one of the nation's leading ground gainers last year. Dallas signed Haynes after having made a trade for an unnamed player with the Twin Cities team. It is probable that Oakland will honor the trade and receive another player for Haynes.”

Stirling’s March 3 story reported “All-American end Don Norton, of Iowa, and 12 other players were assigned to Oakland’s new professional football team.” Newspaper accounts fluctuated between 13 and 14 players during the week of the special AFL meeting.

According to the minutes from the “Special Meeting of the American Football League held Thursday, Friday and Saturday March 3, 4, 5, 1960,” “the former Minneapolis-St. Paul draft list (now Oakland’s) was reviewed and it was revealed 14 players had been signed for Oakland by fellow AFL clubs.” Houston had signed nine, including center Jim Otto, Buffalo had inked one, Dallas had signed two, including RB Abner Haynes, and Los Angeles and Boston had each signed one player.

This brings the story of how and why he signed with Houston that Jim Otto has told over the years full circle. On numerous occasions Otto said that he had signed a contract with the Houston Oilers after Minneapolis-St. Paul bowed out of the league and that he was eventually contacted by Oakland.

In Scotty Stirling’s March 3 article in the Oakland Tribune that reported which players Oakland was to receive, Stirling indicated that a trade involving tight end Gene Prebola and end Al Witcher had been executed.

A March 4 AP story by P.D. Eldred indicated that it was 14 players to be assigned to Oakland. The article also mentions Boston University tight end Gene Prebola as being signed by Houston but originally drafted by Minneapolis-St. Paul. However, Prebola was one of Houston’s first 11 draft picks. Eldred wrote that AFL Commissioner Joe “Foss said most of the players allocated to Oakland were originally signed by Minneapolis-St. Paul before the Twin Cities abandoned aspirations for a franchise.”

Prebola did spend the 1960 season the Oakland Raiders. According to Prebola, he was one of the players Houston “stashed” (for lack of a better term) for Oakland after Minneapolis-St. Paul left the AFL, similar to Otto. Although there is no mention elsewhere of a trade, the Prebola for Witcher swap reported by Stirling would explain how Prebola ended up with the Minneapolis-St. Paul draft class that transferred to Oakland. Witcher is on the original Minneapolis-St. Paul draft list, and he played his one year of pro football with the Houston Oilers in 1960.

Willie Boykin (listed as Bill in the Raiders’ first preseason game program), a tackle out of Michigan State and a member of the Minneapolis-St. Paul draft class, is mentioned in the article as well, but not in the AFL meeting minutes. Boykin appeared on the Raiders 1960 training camp roster but never played a down of professional football.

The problem remained that some of the players chosen by Minneapolis-St. Paul had signed contracts with other AFL teams in the interim after that group dropped out and as the league evaluated replacement franchise possibilities and were not part of the group that was to transfer to Oakland.

Hackbart, Minneapolis-St. Paul's first pick, signed a contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates’ organization and spent a season in the minor leagues. He eventually signed with the NFL team that drafted him and played 12 games at defensive back for the Green Bay Packers in 1960. He eventually ended up with the Minnesota Vikings – with the ownership group that technically originally drafted him on Nov. 22, 1959 – in 1966.

These are the 14 players from the original Minneapolis-St. Paul draft class, as “signed by fellow AFL clubs for Oakland,” that were to transfer to Oakland according to the AFL meeting minutes:

George Blanch, HB, Texas

Cloyd Boyette, T/G, Texas Southern

Carmen Cavelli, E, Richmond

Fran Curci, QB, Miami

Purcell Daniels, FB, Pepperdine

Don Edington, E, Florida

Howard Evans, C, Houston

Haynes, Abner, HB, North Texas State

Sam McCord, QB, North Texas State

Don Norton, E, Iowa

James Otto, C, Miami

Bob Parker, T/G, East Texas State

Al Witcher, E, Baylor

Jim Woodward, T/G Lamar Tech

Of these 14 players, only Abner Haynes, Carmen Cavalli (name often misspelled in AFL documents and newspaper accounts), Don Norton, Jim Otto, and Al Witcher played pro football. Cavalli was a defensive end with the Raiders in 1960, Don Norton played end for the Chargers from 1960 – 1966, Al Witcher played end for the Houston Oilers in 1960, and Jim Otto went on to a Hall of Fame career with the Raiders from 1960 – 1974.

The list in Stirling’s March 3 article is missing Blanch but includes the note about the Prebola/Witcher trade. Stirling’s list also includes Michigan State tackle Willie Boykin. The rest of the list matches the meeting minutes.

George Blanch, Willie Boykin, Howard Evans and Gene Prebola are the discrepancies. Commissioner Foss’ list published in Eldred’s March 4 UPI piece included Blanch and Prebola, and omitted Evans and Witcher. Blanch did sign with the Raiders, but quit the squad eight days into the team’s first training camp. As for Don Norton, the Raiders traded him to the Chargers for defensive end Charlie Powell on June 2, 1960.

On April 7, Jack Gallagher of the Oakland Tribune, in referring to Oakland “Senors” general manager Chet Soda, wrote:

“Meanwhile, Soda said that a deal for Abner Haynes, flashy former North Texas State halfback, has not been settled. The ex-speedburner from Texas was drafted by the Minneapolis-St. Paul club of the AFL, but was later signed by Dallas when the franchise failed to go to Minnesota cities.

According to a league agreement, Oakland was to get all players signed by Minneapolis-St. Paul, but Dallas owner Lamar Hunt said he signed Haynes to prevent him from going to Canada or a rival NFL club.

Soda indicated the Senors will get either Haynes or two other players in exchange for him when negotiations with Hunt are completed.”

A week later the Senors were the Raiders and it was increasingly apparent that Haynes was to be a Dallas Texan. It’s unclear if Oakland received any compensation for Haynes. The Raiders were also stocking their roster through the AFL’s allocation draft plan, which was established at the March meetings in Oakland, and with available street free agents.

Just 14 of the players drafted by Minneapolis-St. Paul spent any time in the NFL or AFL, or both. Five found their way to the Raiders eventually, but just four – Cavalli, Otto, Prebola and Deskins – saw any action for the Oakland Raiders during their maiden season of 1960 – four members of a 53-man draft class, if you want to count Prebola who was acquired in draft pick trade.

Of the original Minneapolis-St. Paul draft class as a whole these 14 played professional football in the AFL or NFL:

RB Pervis Atkins played for the Los Angeles Rams and Washington Redskins, eventually joining the Raiders from 1965 – 1966;

LB Al Bansavage played for the Chargers in 1960 and the Raiders in 1961;

C Maxie Baughan had a long NFL career with Philadelphia, LA Rams, and Washington from 1960 – 1970, 1974;

DB/RB Walter Beach played for the Boston Patriots from 1960 – 1961 and 

the NFL’s Cleveland Browns from 1963 – 1966;

DB George Boynton played for the Raiders in 1962, his only year of pro football;

TE/LB/DE Johnny Brewer played in the NFL for Cleveland and New Orleans from 1961 – 1970;

WR Carroll Dale played for the Rams, Packers and Vikings from 1960 – 1973;

DT/G Don Deskins played for the Raiders in 1960;

C/LB Fred Hageman played for the Redskins from 1961 – 1964;

RB Abner Haynes played for the Dallas Texans/Kansas City Chiefs from 1960 – 1964, the Denver Broncos from 1965 – 1966, and the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets in 1967;

DB Rich Mostardo played for Cleveland in 1960, Minnesota in 1961 and with the Raiders in 1962;

TE Gene Prebola played for the Raiders in 1960 and the Denver Broncos from 1961 – 1963.

LB Jerry Stalcup played for the Rams in 1960 and the Denver Broncos from 1961 – 1962;

DT John Wilcox played for Philadelphia in 1960.

So, just who did the Raiders get from the Minneapolis-St. Paul Draft class? These players were on the training camp roster, except for Don Norton, who had been traded five weeks before the Raiders reported to camp.

Blanch, George, halfback, Texas – left squad in training camp

Boyette, Cloyd, tackle-guard, Texas – never played

Boykin, Willie, tackle, Michigan State – never played

Cavalli, Carmen, end, Richmond – started 14 games at defensive end for the Raiders in 1960

Daniels, Purcell, fullback, Pepperdine – never played

Deskins, Don, tackle, Michigan – saw action in 14 games with six starts at defensive tackle for the Raiders in 1960

Edington, Don, end, Florida – never played

Hogan, Vin, halfback, Boston College – never played

McCord, Sam, quarterback, East Texas State – never played

Norton, Don*, end, Iowa – played one year with the Chargers

Otto, Jim, center, Miami – Hall of Fame 15-year career with the Raiders

Parker, Bob, tackle-guard, East Texas State – never played

Prebola, Gene+, end, Boston College – played in 14 games with 10 starts for the Raiders in 1960, caught 33 passes for 404 yards and two touchdowns, traded to Denver in 1961.

Woodward, Jim, tackle-guard, Lamar Tech – never played

*Traded to LA Chargers before training camp

+Acquired in exchange for Al Witcher

Just five players from this draft class played in the American Football League, and just four for the Raiders.

As for the “first” picks, the first overall selections in each original AFL franchise’s respective history? Only three of the eight played in the AFL in 1960 – Schwedes, Lucas and Cannon. LeClerc made his way there in 1967 and Hackbart played for an original AFL team in 1973 after the merger – the Denver Broncos in both cases.

Meredith played nine years with the Dallas Cowboys from 1960 – 1968; Schwedes played for the Boston Patriots and New York Titans from 1960 – 1961; Lucas played for the Buffalo Bills from 1960 – 1961; LeClerc played for the Chicago Bears from 1960 – 1966, and for the Denver Broncos in 1967 primarily as a kicker; Cannon played for the Houston Oilers from 1960 – 1963, the Oakland Raiders from 1964 – 1969, and the Kansas City Chiefs in 1970; Stickles played for the San Francisco 49ers from 1960 – 1967, and the New Orleans Saints in 1968; Hackbart played defensive back for the Green Bay Packers from 1960 – 1961; the Washington Redskins from 1961 – 1963, the Minnesota Vikings from 1966 – 1970, the St. Louis Cardinals from 1971 – 1972, and the Denver Broncos in 1973; Izo played for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1960, the Washington Redskins from 1961 – 1964, the Detroit Lions in 1965 and the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1966.

In 1961, the Oakland Raiders coaching staff and executives participated in their first AFL college draft and selected Joe Rutgens, a tackle out of Illinois with their first-round pick. Rutgens played nine years in the NFL with the Washington Redskins. The first choice of the Raiders’ organization that stuck? Second-rounder George Fleming, a running back out of Washington, who turned out to be a better kicker than a ball-carrier.

The AFL Draft became something more recognizable from 1961 – 1966, however, with 30+ rounds. In 1967, the terms of the merger between the AFL and NFL started to take hold with the first common draft between the two leagues. By 1970, the leagues were fully combined and re-aligned, and the draft started to become more like what we know today.

This article does not answer all the questions it set out to, but it does present a greater understanding of one of the most pivotal moments in American Football League and Oakland Raiders history.