A Rearview Mirror Look at the Cardinals Draft History Circa 1980
For fans of the National Football League, "Draft Weekend" is the sign that a new season is almost upon us. Hopes and dreams of a successful fall and deep playoff run start here. We, the fans, follow every word of the supposed experts leading up to draft day. Will our favorite team pick players that will lay a strong foundation for the future? Or will they horribly misfire and set our club back years? Those aforementioned experts will attempt to grade your team's draft results sometime before the weekend is even over.
The truth is, a draft class can't be accurately graded for about three years. In that time a player can begin to acclimate to the NFL game and mature as players and people.
I want to take a look back at every team in the National Football League and their draft results going back to 1980. I'm certainly not an "expert", but I consider myself an avid fan of the game.
There are obviously a large number of variables that go into the selection process. Team needs and the system a team uses. The opinions/wants of the coaches, the general manager, the owner. Potential trades. All of the above within the dynamics of the players selected before it's your team's turn. It's a complicated game for which teams spend countless hours preparing.
Grading a draft is a similar endeavour. What players does the team already have on the roster? Has the team signed any free agents? Has the coaching staff changed? So, I wanted to strip it down and take a simple look at the situation. What did a drafted player do while he was on the team that drafted him? I also wanted to have a little "what if" fun with hindsight and note some players at the same position that were available after the player selected. So, without further ado, let's take a look at the 1980 draft results for the St. Louis Cardinals.
1st Round, 6th Pick - Curtis Greer, DE, Michigan
Greer spent 7 years in the NFL, all with the Cardinals. He started 6 seasons at right defensive end and had his most productive years mid-career in 1983 and 1984, with 16 and 14 sacks respectively. Players available after Greer was selected were Mark Haynes, Jacob Green, and Art Monk. Grade: B-
2nd Round, 33rd Pick - Doug Marsh, TE, Michigan
Marsh, like Greer, spent all 7 of his NFL years with the Cards. He, too, started 6 seasons and had his yardage and touchdown bests in 1983 and 1984. Other notables from the 2nd round in 1980 were center and future Hall of Fame member Dwight Stephenson and Matt Millen, who was a much better linebacker than GM. Grade: B
3rd Round, 60th Pick - John Sinnott, T, Brown
Sinnott was drafted by the Cardinals but never played for them. The former All-Ivy tackle from Brown is now a district manager for a construction company in Rhode Island. Grade: F
3rd Round, 81st Pick - Charles Baker, LB, New Mexico
Charles Baker was a linebacker for 8 years with the Cardinals with starting roles in 3 seasons. After a fairly inconsistent career, he retired from playing in 1987. Grade: C-
4th Round, 89th Pick - Rusty Lisch, QB, Notre Dame
Lisch spent the first 4 years of his NFL career with the St. Louis Cardinals, all in a backup role. He never attempted more than 17 passes in a season and finished with 134 yards passing, 1 TD, and 5 interceptions. Don't feel bad, though; he was equally inept with the Bears in 1984. Grade: D-
6th Round, 142nd Pick - Bill Acker, NT, Texas
Acker only spent 2 of his 6 nondescript seasons with the Cards. Players still available at this point of the 1980 draft? 2 time Pro Bowl G Keith Bishop at pick 157 and the ageless K Eddie Murray at 166. Grade: D-
7th Round, 171st Pick - Ben Apuna, LB, Arizona St.
Ben Apuna was drafted by the Cardinals but never played for them. He played 10 games for the New York Giants, doing virtually nothing in the process. Grade: F
The only other pick by the Cardinals in the 1980 draft was DL Rush Brown out of Ball St. He played 4 years for St. Louis, starting 3 and provided some versatility and value as a 10th round selection. Grade: C
As far as St. Louis Cardinals drafts go, 1980 was just slightly above average. Sinnott in the 3rd and Lisch in the 4th work against them. While not the best player available at the time, Greer wasn't a terrible choice and Marsh was a serviceable TE in the 2nd. Overall Grade: C