Big Red Draft History: 1972 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 1972 Draft, which was held February 1-2, 1972 in New York.

After the 1972 NFL Draft, his first and only draft as the head coach of the Cardinals, Bob Hollway gave his definition of what constituted a good draft.

“You should get two starters out of the draft each year and five players from that draft should make your team,” Hollway, who wasn’t hired by the Cardinals until two weeks after the previous year’s draft, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

By Hollway’s standard, the Big Red had a good draft in 1972. Four of the players they selected started as rookies: wide receiver Ahmad Rashad (13 games), linebacker Mark Arneson (10), guard Conrad Dobler (nine), and defensive end Martin Imhof (eight). Five others made the ’72 roster, but they didn’t stick around long.

With the team’s first pick (No. 4 overall), Hollway was hoping the Big Red could land an elite pass rusher to help their anemic defense, but two of the top-rated defensive ends, Walt Patulski and Sherman White, were picked one-two (by Buffalo and Cincinnati, respectively). So, the Cardinals selected Oregon’s Rashad, rated as both the top wide receiver and top running back in the draft.

Rashad was the only major college back to lead his school in career rushing yards and receiving yards. The Cardinals would employ Moore primarily as a receiver, and he was a good one—but for only two years in St. Louis. After the 1973 season, he was dealt to Buffalo in perhaps the worst trade in team history.

More on that below.

1972 St. Louis Cardinals Draft

rd-overallPlayer Namepositioncollege
1-4Bobby Moore (Ahmad Rashad)WROregon
2-32Mark ArnesonLBArizona
3-57Tom BeckmanDEMichigan
4-82Jeff LymanLBBYU
4-84Martin ImhofDESan Diego State
5-110Conrad DoblerGWyoming
6-135Don HeaterRBMontana Tech
7-160Council RudolphDEKentucky State
8-188Bob WicksWRUtah State
9-213Gene MackenCSouth Dakota
10-238Eric WashingtonDBTexas-El Paso
10-250Mike FranksQBEastern New Mexico
11-265Ron JonesLBArkansas
12-291Tommy GayDTArkansas-Pine Bluff
13-316Tom CampanaDBOhio State
14-344Pat McTeerKNew Mexico State
15-369Mark HermanTEYankton
16-394Henry AlfordDEPittsburgh
17-422Kent CarterLBUSC

*Although Ahmad Rashad started 23 of the 27 games he played for the Cardinals (1972-73), he got only 68 touches from scrimmage. He caught 59 passes for 909 yards (15.4-yard average) and six touchdowns, and he rushed nine times for 44 yards. (As a kick returner, he averaged 21.9 yards on 20 returns.) One of Moore’s notable plays as a Cardinal came in the next-to-last game of his rookie season. In a home game against the Rams, Moore and quarterback Jim Hart collaborated a 98-yard pass—tied for the longest non-scoring pass in league history. The play started at the Big Red’s 1-yard line and ended when Moore was tackled at the Rams’ 1-yard line.

Viewed by the Cardinals as more of a maverick than a team player, Rashad was traded to Buffalo for backup quarterback Dennis Shaw in January 1974. This was after Don Coryell’s first season as coach of the Cardinals. “When the Cardinals traded me, Coryell told me I had changed drastically. I don’t think I changed at all,” said Rashad, who had changed his name from Bobby Moore to coincide with his Islam faith.

Coryell knew Shaw from coaching him at San Diego State. But the bigger reason for acquiring Shaw might have been for veteran insurance because of the uncertainty surrounding Big Red quarterback Jim Hart’s elbow injury. Hart had suffered the injury late in the ’73 season, and it was taking a long time to heal. Regardless, the Shaw-for-Rashad swap backfired big-time for the Cardinals. In two seasons in St. Louis, Shaw appeared in just five games and attempted only eight passes, completing four for 61 yards with one interception. Meanwhile, Rashad, who played one season for Buffalo and seven seasons for Minnesota (including four consecutive Pro Bowl seasons), became one of the best receivers in the NFL. His career receiving totals: 495 catches, 6,831 yards, 44 touchdowns.

*Mark Arneson was a steady, durable linebacker during his nine seasons with the Cardinals (1972-80), missing only five of a possible 132 games. At one point, he started 104 consecutive games until he suffered an ankle injury. Arneson had 17.5 sacks, five interceptions and 18 fumble recoveries. One of his highlight moments came on September 9, 1979—his birthday—when he returned a fumble 29 yards for a touchdown in a 27-14 win over the Giants. When he retired after the ’80 season, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote that Arneson “pushed his God-given ability to the limit.”

*Martin Imhof played only one season (1972) in St. Louis. He played in 13 games and had one fumble recovery.

*Conrad Dobler made his first NFL start in the ninth game of his rookie season. From that point through the 1977 season (his last in St. Louis), Dobler started 77 of a possible 79 games. He started out at left guard but was switched to right guard in ’73 and became a fixture there. Renowned for his toughness and often devious play, Dobler was featured on the July 25, 1977 cover of Sports Illustrated under the headline: “Pro Football’s Dirtiest Player.” Dobler was traded to the Saints after the ’77 season. He played four more NFL seasons—two with New Orleans and two with Buffalo.

*Although he was drafted by the Cardinals, Council Rudolph played his rookie season with the Houston Oilers. He then came to St. Louis, where he played for three years (1973-75). In 32 games (15 starts) for the Big Red, Rudolph had three fumble recoveries, seven sacks and one interception.

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