Big Red Draft History: 1978 NFL Draft

As we move closer to the 2023 NFL Draft (Thursday-Saturday), The Big Red Zone is looking back on each of the 28 St. Louis Cardinals drafts (1960-87). This installment focuses on the 1978 Draft, which was held May 2-3 in New York.

Of the 139 kicking specialists drafted in the NFL before 1978, only two—placekicker Charlie Gogolak (1966) and punter Ray Guy (1973)—were selected in the first round. On May 2, 1978, the Cardinals increased that number to three when they took Arkansas dual kicker Steve Little with the 15th overall choice.

Before you go saying, Just another dumb move by George Boone, consider that all of the Cardinals’ hierarchy was on board with the pick. 

“It was a unanimous decision,” first-year head coach Bud Wilkinson told reporters, using an analytical explanation for defending the pick. 

Wilkinson pointed out that in 1977, the Big Red’s average field position for an offensive position was their 32-yard line, and that they netted only a little more than 31 yards in net punting. (Actually, the Cardinals’ net punting average had been 32.8 yards—10th best in the NFL and slightly better than the league’s 31.8 average—but let’s not quibble).

“That’s a loss in field position that’s difficult to make up. And those are figures that can be improved,” Wilkinson said, tossing out phrases such as position football and cumulative yardage.

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