So far we've looked at a handful of guys that the Cardinals plucked late in various drafts yet went on to have fabulous careers (Part I & Part II). Those names have included fan favorites like Larry Centers and Sonny Randle and Hall of Fame players such as Larry Wilson and Jackie Smith. Today brings us another handful of guys who escaped draft day doldrums to become stars in the NFL.
Ernie McMillan - Offensive Tackle - 13th Round in 1961
McMillan didn't get drafted until the 13th round out of Illinois, but that didn't stop him from playing in the NFL for 14 seasons and playing in over 170 games, 162 consecutively. He was elected to four Pro Bowls and two All-Pro teams. The St. Louis Cardinals enjoyed six winning seasons during McMillan's 14 years including a playoff appearance. The McMillan's are also quite a football family. His son and nephew have both played in the NFL. His son, Erik, is a two time Pro Bowler and 1988 Defensive Rookie of Year for the New York Jets. His nephew, Howard Richards, was a first round pick of the Dallas Cowboys in 1981.
Lonnie Young - Safety - 12th Round in 1985
Young, the former Michigan State Spartan, played for the Cardinals from 1985 to 1990 and stick around in the league until 1996. For his career he'd play in 150 games and total over 720 tackles, 11 interceptions, 44 pass deflections. As a Cardinal he'd 72 games and total nearly 500 tackles. He's was also recently a scout for the Cardinals but his true claim to fame is for being the fastest player on Super Tecmo Bowl. Most fans believe it either a programming error or simply a glitch.
Pat Tillman - Safety - 7th Round in 1998
We all know the truly heroic, yet ultimately tragic story of Pat Tillman's life after football, but for now I'll focus solely on his play on the gridiron. Tillman was a standout linebacker at Arizona State but the Cardinals drafted him with the intention of moving him safety. It didn't take him long to make the transition either, starting 10 games his rookie season. Tillman was a full-time starter by his third season and enjoyed his best season in 2000 when he totaled 155 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 9 pass deflections and an interception. Tillman would finish his four year career with 331 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 3 interceptions, 16 passes defended in 60 career games. Tillman's #40 jersey has been retired by the Cardinals as well as his #42 by Arizona State.
Memories or thoughts? Who are some other late round picks who proved their worth for the Arizona Cardinals?