Big Red Draft Results: 1961

As the NFL moves closer to the 2023 Draft (April 27-29), the Big Red Zone is looking back at each of the St. Louis Cardinals’ 28 drafts (starting in 1960). Each installment in the series will include a list of that year’s selections, a rating of each pick based on that player’s contributions to the Cardinals, and notes about some of the players. Feel free to debate. One thing we probably all can agree on: The Big Red had a lot of bad drafts even before George Boone arrived on the scene. 

1961 St. Louis Cardinals Draft

Ernie McMillan and Pat Fischer played a combined 32 seasons in the NFL
1-8Ken RiceTAuburn
2-22Fred ArbanasTEMichigan State
3-31   Billy WilsonTAuburn
4-50Ron McDoleDENebraska
5-64Glenn Bass  SEEast Carolina
6-78        Dale EvansHBKansas State
6-83Dick ThorntonQBNorthwestern
7-92George HultzDTSouthern Miss
7-94Al BemillerCSyracuse
8-106Marshall StarksDTIllinois
9-120Chick GraningHBGeorgia Tech
10-134Jimmy KingTClemson
11-148Bill KinnuneGWashington
12-162Mike Stock BNorthwestern
13-176Ernie McMillanTIllinois
14-190Bob ElliotFBNorth Carolina
15-204Mel West HBMissouri
16-218Jake BradleyTFlorida A&M
17-232Pat FischerDBNebraska
18-246Art BrowningGDuke
19-260Dick SchnellTWyoming
20-274Leo ReedTColorado State 

*The NFL Draft was held December 27-28 in Philadelphia. The AFL draft was held November 21-22 and December 5-6.

*Ken Rice was a two-way lineman at Auburn who was named the Southeastern Conference’s offensive lineman and defensive lineman of the year as a senior in 1960. He was the first player selected in the 1961 AFL draft (by Buffalo) and chose to sign with the Bills instead of the Big Red. “With the American League being the new league, I thought I would have an opportunity to play quicker in Buffalo,” Rice said in a story posted by the Professional Football Researchers Association.” He was right. Rice started 13 games as a rookie in ’61. He played for Buffalo (1961-63), Oakland (1964-65) and Miami (1966-67).

*Ron McDole played one season for St. Louis (1961): 13 games, five starts. Nicknamed “The Dancing Bear,” he also played for Houston (1962), Buffalo (1963-70) and Washington (1971-78), where he was a member of coach George Allen’s “Over the Hill Gang.” In 18 NFL seasons, he intercepted 12 passes and recovered 14 fumbles.

*George Hultz played 13 games in 1962 for St. Louis.

*Al Bemiller played for Buffalo (1961-69) and never missed a game. 

*Ernie McMillan was a blocking tight end at Illinois (only four receptions) who asked to be converted to offensive tackle as a rookie with the Big Red. He played 15 NFL seasons—1961-74 for St. Louis and 1975 for Green Bay. McMillan was a durable player who started 162 consecutive game during one span for the Cardinals. Played 190 games and made 184 starts in 15 NFL seasons. Was selected to the Pro Bowl in 1965, ’67, ’69 and ’70. Former Chicago Bears defensive end Ed O’Bradovich once said of McMillen: “He’s one of the best. You can’t get rid of him. You go left, he goes with you. You go right, he’s clinging to you. It’s like he’s wallpapered to your uniform.” A pinched nerve in his neck forced McMillan to miss the final three games of the ’74 season, including a playoff game against Minnesota. The Cardinals released him shortly before the start of the ’75 season; he signed with the Packers and started 11 games in ’75.   

*Pat Fischer played for St. Louis (1961-67) and Washington (1968-77). Played 87 games (72 starts) for the Big Red and 213 games overall. Intercepted 27 passes and scored three touchdowns for St. Louis, including eight interceptions in 1963 and 10 in 1964. Was an All-Pro selection in 1964 and was voted to three Pro Bowls (’64, ’65 and ’69). For his career, Fischer had 56 interceptions for 941 yards and four TDs. 

2 thoughts on “Big Red Draft Results: 1961

  1. Too bad the Big Red couldn’t compete with the AFL. Fred Arbanas, Glenn Bass and AL Bemiller would go on to have good success playing in the AFL. The Big Red were very fortunate to pick up Ernie McMillan and Pat Fischer in the late rounds.


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