Last week we looked at several guys who didn't hear their names called until late on draft day, but still went on to have solid, if not spectacular careers. Larry Centers, Stump Mitchell and Jackie Smith were all late round selections but still went on to combine for 8 Pro Bowls and a Hall of Fame selection. Here are today's late round gems:
Sonny Randle - Wide Receiver - 19th Round in 1959
Randle didn't let his 19th round draft status keep him from leading the league in touchdowns receptions in just his second season with 15. That's a pretty amazing number for 1960, especially considering that he only played in 12 games. He'd play for the Cardinals for eight seasons and would total over 5,400 yards and 60 touchdowns (16.6 yards per reception). At the time of his retirement he was the Cardinals' leader in single-season and career receiving yardage and touchdown receptions and he's still has the team record for most receptions in a game with 16 (set in 1962). Randle was a four time Pro Bowler and was selected to one All-Pro team. Since his retirement, Randle has held the head coaching spot at East Carolina, Virginia and Marshall.
Pat Fischer - Cornerback- 17th Round in 1961
In the end, Fischer is possibly more known for his years as a Redskin than as a St. Louis Cardinal, but his best seasons came as a Cardinal. He'd play his first seven seasons in St. Louis before signing with Washington in 1968, and he'd end up being voted to the '70 Greatest Redskins' as part of a 2002 franchise anniversary. He'd total 29 interceptions during his first seven seasons, including a spectacular 10 interception season in 1964. That season he'd also score three defensive touchdowns and earn Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors. His time in Washington would be highlighted by a Super Bowl victory in 1972. Fischer still ranks among the top 15 in NFL history in both interceptions and interception return yards and at the time of his retirement, his 213 games at cornerback was a league record. He finished his career with 3 Pro Bowls and 2 All-Pro selections.
Larry Wilson - Safety - 7th Round in 1960
Wilson was originally drafted as a corner but was moved to free safety during his rookie season. He would quickly cement himself as not only a team leader but also a dynamic play maker. The Cardinals' defensive coordinator, Chuck Drulis, nicknamed a new blitz scheme the "Wildcat" (after Wilson's nickname) and Wilson perfected the 'safety blitz' in no time. He was more than just an 'in the box' safety though, as he finished his career with 52 interceptions including a career high ten in 1966 (highlighted by one in seven straight games). Wilson remains the Cardinals' team leader in career interceptions and interceptions yardage. By the end of his career, Wilson was voted to eight Pro Bowls and selected to 6 All-Pro teams and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1978. He was also named to the NFL's 1960's and 1970's All Decade Team, the NFL's 75th Anniversary Team and his #8 jersey has been retired by the Cardinals.
Combined these three guys would lead the Cardinals to seven non-losing seasons from 1960 to 1970 after having just one winning season in the previous decade. I wasn't around during that time, in fact my dad was working his way through elementary during the early 60,' but does anyone out there have fond memories of watching these guys terrorize opponents?