Big Red Draft History: 1974 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 1974 Draft, which was held January 29-30 in New York.

With the exception of first-round pick J.V. Cain and fourth-round choice Ike Harris, the Cardinals didn’t get much help from this draft. And both of those players had short careers in St. Louis.

A tight end from Colorado, Cain was a backup in his first two seasons in St. Louis. He became a full-time starter in 1976, and caught a combined 51 passes for 728 yards and nine touchdowns in ’76 and ’77. He suffered a torn Achilles tendon in training camp in 1978 and missed that entire season.

A year later, on July 22—his 28th birthday—tragedy struck. Cain collapsed on the field at Lindenwood College while running a pass pattern during a non-contact training camp practice. While coaches and teammates watched in shock, medical personnel gave Cain CPR. He was transported to St. Joseph’s Hospital and died shortly thereafter. An autopsy showed that his death was due to a rare congenital heart problem.

The Cardinals retired his number (88). 

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