Big Red Draft History: 1965 NFL Draft

As we move closer to the 2023 NFL Draft (April 27-29), The Big Red Zone is looking back on each of the 28 St. Louis Cardinals drafts (1960-87). This installment focuses on the 1965 Draft, which was held November 28, 1964 in New York.

For the second year in a row, the Cardinals’ draft turned out to be generally disappointing. Except for running backs Johnny Roland and Roy Shivers, both of whom had one more year of college eligibility (at Missouri and Utah State, respectively) and wouldn’t start their NFL careers until 1966, the team received minimal production from its 20 selections. 

The Big Red made a play for Joe Namath, taking the Alabama quarterback with their first-round pick (12th overall), but lost him in a bidding war with the New York Jets, who made him the first overall pick in the AFL Draft. The Cardinals dispatched two representatives to Tuscaloosa, AL to meet with Namath in his dorm room and try to sign him to a contract. Namath told them he wanted a $200,000 annual contract and a Lincoln Continental convertible.

“They said, ‘Oh, my god.’ The two guys fell off the bed,” Namath recalled in a 2021 podcast on The Exchange. “They went into this ‘My god’ motion and then it made me feel like a, I don’t know, a jerk.”

The Cardinals eventually agreed to Namath’s demand—but only if he would sign a contract before Alabama’s Orange Bowl game against Texas on New Year’s night. Doing so would have made Namath ineligible for the game. Instead, Namath played in the bowl game and was named MVP, but the Tide couldn’t complete a late comeback and lost 21-17. The next day, he signed a contract with the Jets, who gave him $427,000 for three years and that convertible he wanted. 

Adjusting for inflation, $427,000 in 1965 would be worth $4.008 million in 2023. 

1965 St. Louis Cardinals Draft Picks

Rd-OverallPlayer namepositioncollege
1-12Joe NamathQBAlabama
2-26Dave SimmonsLBGeorgia Tech
3-40Ray OgdenTEAlabama
4-54Johnny RolandRBMissouri
5-68Bob BondsHBSan Jose State
6-82Glen Ray HinesTArkansas
7-96Frank Roy GUtah
8-110John MeyerLBNotre Dame
9-124Jimmy HeidelDBMississipppi
10-138Chuck Drulis Jr.EDuke
11-152Bud FrenchBAlabama
12-166Glen SasserENorth Carolina
13-180Steve MurphyHBNorthwestern
14-194Mike AlfordCAuburn
15-208Harlan LaneBBaylor
16-222Carl SilvestriDBWisconsin
17-236Mike MelinkovichDEWashington
18-250Ed McQuartersDTOklahoma
19-264Roy ShiversRBUtah State
20-278Tony GiacobazziEIowa

*Johnny Roland played his final season of eligibility at Missouri in 1965, then joined the Cardinals in ’66. He made an immediate impact: 695 yards and five touchdowns rushing, 213 yards receiving, a league-leading 11.1-yard average and one TD on 20 punt returns, and a 23.1-yard average on 15 kick returns. Both the Associated Press and United Press International named Roland the league’s Rookie of the Year. He was selected to the Pro Bowl, an honor he would earn again in 1967.

Roland played seven seasons (1966-72) for the Cardinals. In 96 games (73 starts), he rushed 962 times for 3,608 yards and 27 touchdowns, caught 131 passes for 1,240 yards and five TDs, averaged 9.5 yards and scored two TDs on 49 punt returns, and averaged 20.2 yards on 22 kick returns. His greatest performance, arguably, came during the Big Red’s 38-0 win over the Dallas Cowboys in a Monday Night Football game on November 16, 1970. Roland returned a punt 74 yards for a touchdown, rushed 16 times for 78 yards and two TDs, and caught two passes for 17 yards.

*Although he primarily was a backup during his seven seasons (1966-72) with St. Louis, Roy Shivers put up some impressive statistics; he rushed 176 times for 680 yards and 10 touchdowns, and he caught 38 passes for 400 yards and four TDs. He also was a return man, averaging 3.8 yards on 34 punt returns and 24.0 yards on 51 kick returns—including a 94-yard return for a score. 

*Here are the numbers for the other ’65 draftees who played for the Cardinals:

Linebacker Dave Simmons—two seasons, 20 games, 0 starts.

Tight end Ray Ogden—two seasons, 17 games, 0 starts, three kick returns for an average of 18.2 yards.

Guard Frank Roy—one season, 11 games, two starts, two kick returns for 10 yards.

Defensive back Jimmy Heidel—one season, 14 games, 0 starts.

Center Mike Alford—one season, 13 games, 0 starts.

Defensive back Carl Silvestri—one season, 14 games, six starts, three punt returns for a 7.0-yard average, four kick returns for a 24.0-yard average.

Defensive end Mike Melinkovich—two seasons, 24 games, four starts, one kick return for two yards, one fumble recovery. Defensive tackle Ed McQuarters—one game.

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