Big Red Draft History: 1973 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 1973 Draft, which was held January 30-31 in New York.

After his first draft as head coach of the Cardinals, Don Coryell gave his stamp of approval to the team’s first four picks: Purdue defensive tackle Dave Butz, Texas-El Paso quarterback-punter Gary Keithley, Bowling Green guard Fred Sturt, and Long Beach State running back Terry Metcalf.

“We drafted the great defensive lineman, the young quarterback with super potential, the fine offensive lineman, and the darting-type runner,” Coryell told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Only one of those four players worked out.

Butz played in only 13 games before departing St. Louis over a money issue. Keithley stuck around for just one season. And Sturt never played for the Cardinals.

Metcalf was the exception. An exciting multipurpose player who played five seasons for the Big Red, Metcalf became one of the linchpins of the Cardiac Cards with his ability to run, catch and return kicks.

1973 St. Louis Cardinals Draft

1-5Dave ButzDTPurdue
2-45Gary KeithleyQBTexas-El Paso
3-59Fred SturtGBowling Green
3-63Terry MetcalfRBLong Beach St.
5-109Tom BrahaneyCOklahoma
6-137Dwayne CrumpDBFresno State
6-148Phil AndreDBWashington
7-164Ken JonesTOklahoma
8-188Ken GarrettRBWake Forest
9-213Ken KingLBKentucky
10-242Bonnie SloanDTAustin Peay State
11-267Dan SanspreeDEAuburn
12-292Dean UnruhTOklahoma
13-317Ed RobinsonDBLamar
14-346Dan PeifferCSoutheast Missouri St.
15-371Mel ParkerLBDuke
16-396Jim HannLBMontana
17-421Eric CroneQBHarvard

*The 6-7, 291-pound Butz played in 12 games (10 starts) as a rookie and was credited with five sacks and one fumble recovery. In 1974, he played one game and suffered a season-ending knee injury. A salary dispute brought his stay in St. Louis to a quick end after the ’74 season. “He asked for a guaranteed, no-cut contract and he asked for multi-contracts,” Cardinals Director of Operations Joe Sullivan said. “The things he was asking for make people fat, dumb and happy.” Because of a technicality in his contract, Butz was granted free agency. He signed with George Allen’s Washington Redskins and played 14 more seasons, earning first-team All-Pro honors in 1983. He played on two Super Bowl champions in Washington and was named to the NFL 1980s All-Decade team.

*Gary Keithley was Jim Hart’s backup and the Big Red’s punter (37.5-yard average on 66 punts) in his only season in the NFL. He played all but three snaps in an October loss to the Giants after Hart suffered pulled rib muscles in warmups, and he started the final two games of the season after Hart suffered an elbow injury. Keithley’s numbers as a quarterback: 73 pass attempts, 32 completions (43.8 percent), 369 yards, one touchdown, five interceptions.

*In five seasons with the Big Red (1973-77), Terry Metcalf had 945 touches for 5,300 yards and 36 touchdowns. He rushed 748 times for 3,438 yards and 24 touchdowns, caught 197 passes for 1,862 yards and nine TDs, returned 107 kickoffs for a 26.2-yard average and two TDs, and returned 80 punts for an 11.1-yard average and one score. He had seven games with 250 or more all-purpose yards, and set an NFL record in 1975 with 2,462 all-purpose yards. He became a free agent after the 1977 season and left the Cardinals over a contract dispute.

*An All-American player in college, Tom Brahaney could have started for most NFL teams, but in St. Louis he backed up Tom Banks for most of his nine seasons (1973-81). Brahaney played in all 134 games during his tenure. He started 13 games in 1974 when Banks was hurt; all 16 games in ’80, when Banks moved to guard; and all 16 games in ’81 after Banks left.

*In four seasons with the Cardinals (1973-76), Dwayne Crump played in 55 games and started 10. He had one interception, one fumble recovery, and one blocked punt.

*The first deaf player in the NFL, Bonnie Sloan started the 1973 opener against Philadelphia but suffered a knee injury when he was hit from behind on a kickoff. He played four games (two starts) as a rookie, but the knee injury never fully healed, and he was released during training camp in 1974.

Dave Butz at Purdue
St. Louis Post Dispatch October 11, 1973

1 thought on “Big Red Draft History: 1973 NFL Draft

  1. We paid dearly for losing Dave Butz. Great memories watching Terry Metcalf. Every time he’d touch the ball you would instinctively get out of your seat because you knew anything was possible. Too bad about Bonnie Sloan he was a great inspiration. In looking over the 1973 draft I noticed that when the Big Red selected Gary Keithley, both Joe Ferguson and Dan Fouts were still available.

    Liked by 1 person

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