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5 biggest draft BUSTS in AZ Cardinals history

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Posted at 12:11 PM, Apr 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-26 17:48:59-04

They can't all be Larry Fitzgerald.

Yes, the Cardinals have made plenty of wise NFL Draft decisions since they moved to Arizona in 1988-- but like all 31 other teams, they've made some stinkers, as well. So, with this year's draft right around the corner, we decided to rank the five worst picks the Cards have made since they arrived in the Valley.

RELATED: Ranking the 5 BEST draft picks in Arizona Cardinals history

Note: Guys like tackle Leonard Davis and running backs Garrison Hearst and Thomas Jones didn't fare especially well with Arizona but went on to star with other teams, which is equally as frustrating for Cards fans, if not more so. But this list focuses on players who were busts in Arizona and found little to no success elsewhere.

With that in mind, here's our list of the Cardinals' biggest draft busts since '88.

5. Ryan Williams -- second round (No. 38 overall), 2011

The man nicknamed "Lil Sweetness" as a nod to Hall of Famer running back Walter Payton is the only non-first round pick on this list. Big things were expected out of the Virginia Tech running back, but a ruptured patella tendon put him on the shelf for his entire rookie season in the Valley.

When he finally took the field in 2012, Williams managed just 154 yards on 58 carries (2.8 yards per rush) and was bailed out by a missed last-second Patriots field goal following a crucial late fumble in Week 2. Williams didn't see the field the following two years, and he was released by the Cardinals in 2014.

4. Tommy Knight -- first round (No. 9 overall), 1997

The Iowa cornerback who was drafted ahead of future Pro Bowl cornerbacks such as Ronde Barber and Sam Madison did start 53 games in five seasons in Arizona, but he never became the Pro Bowl-caliber player the Cards hoped he would be.

Knight managed just three interceptions and one forced fumble in AZ, and he missed more than half of the team's 1998 and 2001 seasons due to injury. He finished his NFL career with the St. Louis Rams in 2004.

3. Wendall Bryant -- first round (No. 12 overall), 2002

The two-time Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year at Wisconsin certainly tops this list in the minds of many fans, and it's easy to understand why. Bryant, who entered the league with seemingly All-Pro potential, would go on to start exactly this many times for the Cardinals:

Bryant managed a total of 1.5 sacks during his three-year stint in Arizona before missing the 2005 season due to a violation of the NFL's substance abuse policy. He never played in the NFL again, and his pro football career ended with the United Football League's Omaha Nighthawks in 2010.

2. Andre Wadsworth -- first round (No. 3 overall), 1998

Larry Fitzgerald, who happens to be No. 1 on our *other* list, was drafted No. 3 overall by the Cardinals in 2004. The Cards didn't have as much success with the defensive end they drafted No. 3 overall six years earlier.

Wadsworth, a 1997 Consensus All-American at Florida State, held out for a bigger contract until the day before the beginning of the 1998 regular season. He went on to start just 30 games in three seasons with the Cardinals, managing only 72 total tackles and eight sacks during that time.  

Injuries kept Wadsworth's career from ever really getting started, as he underwent a trio of knee surgeries. The Cards released him after the 2000 season, and he never played in another NFL game.

1. Matt Leinart -- first round (No. 10 overall), 2006

Since moving to Arizona, the Cardinals have drafted just one quarterback in the NFL Draft's first round -- and it's a pick they'd like to have back.

Leinart was seen as the possible franchise QB the Cards had been missing since they relocated from St. Louis 18 years earlier. Instead, the 2004 Heisman Trophy winner from USC, whom then-Cards coach Dennis Green called "a gift from heaven," would start a total of 17 games in Arizona.

Leinart's 2006 and '07 seasons ended with injuries. In 2008, it was Kurt Warner who went on to lead the Cards to their only Super Bowl appearance. The team appeared to be Leinart's once again after Warner retired in 2010, but Leinart was cut before the regular season began, leading to the dark Derek Anderson/John Skelton/Max Hall/Kevin Kolb/Ryan Lindley era.

Leinart went on to play briefly for three other NFL teams. His pro career ended with the Buffalo Bills in 2013, and he's currently a national college football analyst.