Big Red Draft History: 1969 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 1969 Draft, which was held January 28-29, 1969 in New York.

The Big Red struck gold with their first-round selection (No. 19 overall) when they picked Missouri All-American Roger Wehrli. A fast, smothering defensive back who could also return kicks, Wehrli had been projected as a third-round candidate until an NFL scout asked him to run a 40-yard dash immediately after the Hula Bowl.

Wehrli, in full uniform, ran it in 4.5 seconds. After that, his draft stock skyrocketed.

Wehrli became a Cardinals starter immediately in ’69 and was selected to the NFL’s All-Rookie Team after intercepting three passes and returning them for 44 yards. During his 14 seasons in the NFL, all with St. Louis, Wehrli frustrated quarterbacks—both foes and friends alike. Cardinals quarterback Jim Hart purposely tried to avoid throwing into Wehrli’s area in practice because it could be frustrating trying to complete a pass. Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach considered Wehrli the toughest pass defender he faced.

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