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Updated Apr 23, 2013 - 4:06 pm

The 5: Worst top 10 picks in Cardinals history

There's no question about it. The Arizona Cardinals have a huge decision to make Thursday night when they mull over the No. 7 pick in the 2013 NFL Draft.

Following a disappointing 5-11 season and a wholesale regime change, the Cardinals have plenty of holes to fill, and there's no better place to start than the draft. With that said, since moving to the Valley, the Cardinals haven't always had the best eye for talent when it comes to using their top pick.

Here's a look at the Arizona/Phoenix Cardinals' five worst top 10 picks based on expectations, where they were selected and how they performed in a Cardinals uniform.

5. Levi Brown (No. 5 in the 2007 Draft), Offensive Tackle, Penn State

Brown is the only one to make the list that's still a member of the Arizona Cardinals.

And look, through the first six seasons of his career, Brown hasn't by any account been a bust. In fact, until a torn triceps injury wiped way his 2012 season, Brown had started all 64 games from 2008-2011.

With that said, there's been nothing awe-inspiring about the former Nittany Lion's career. Yes, he was a 2009 Pro Bowl alternate, but let's face it his pass-protecting skills are still a big work in progress.

On top of that, he was picked two spots in front of arguably the greatest running back of the last decade, Adrian Peterson.

In six seasons, Peterson has already won the MVP, been selected to five Pro Bowls and led the league in rushing twice (2008 and 2012).

Hindsight might be 20-20, but the Cardinals would likely take their selection of Brown back in a second if they could do it all over again.

4. Thomas Jones (No. 7 pick in the 2000 Draft), Running Back, Virginia

There's a common theme with this list: inconsistency and injuries.

Running backs are rarely a popular pick in the top 10, and Jones' time in Arizona illustrated exactly why that is.

When they selected the 1999 Consensus All-American, the Cardinals thought they were getting the perfect piece for an offense in desperate need of a dynamic back. The 5-foot-10 Jones was a dynamic runner (4.4 speed) at Virginia and set several school and ACC records.

That talent never seemed to blossom under Dave McGinnis, as Jones spent much of his first two seasons in the league splitting time with Michael Pittman. When Pittman finally left for Tampa Bay before the 2002 season, Jones became the full-time starter.

In nine starts, Jones ran for 511 yards and two touchdowns, but he eventually lost his job to Marcel Shipp and went on the IR for the final six games after a mysterious season-ending hand injury.

There's no discounting what Jones did after his brief stint with the Cardinals. The former Virginia running back went on to make a Pro Bowl and lead the AFC in rushing (2008), but those accolades are but a painful remainder to the team that wasted a No. 7 pick on him.

3. Tom Knight (No. 9 pick in the 1997 Draft), Cornerback, Iowa

The Arizona Cardinals were constantly looking for a big playmaker to play opposite of Aeneas Williams in the 1990s.

In the 1997 NFL Draft, they finally found their man in cornerback Tom Knight out of Iowa. But boy were they wrong.

Knight played five seasons with the Cardinals and had little to no impact. His cover skills were average at best, he never really made any plays of note (only three career interceptions) and when he was on the field it was usually short-lived due to injury.

Despite wasting a top pick on Knight, the Cardinals were able to salvage the 1997 Draft with their second-round selection of Jake Plummer. With that said, Knight was taken well before the likes of Darren Sharper, Ronde Barber and Sam Madison.

Can you say OUCH!

2. Matt Leinart (No. 10 pick in the 2006 Draft), Quarterback, USC

Leinart had everything going for him heading into the 2006 NFL Draft: two AP National Championships, a Heisman Trophy and experience running a pro-style offense.

What Arizona found out he didn't have after selecting him No. 10 overall was a terribly impressive arm or an ability to stay healthy.

That discovery took some time, however. Leinart's best year as pro came in his rookie season, where he started 11 games for the Cardinals and threw for 2,547 yards and 11 touchdowns.

In 2007, a coaching change from Dennis Green to Ken Whisenhunt really put the pressure on the former All-American to perform. He started the first five games with mixed results (two touchdowns and four interceptions) before suffering a season-ending left collarbone injury in October 2007.

From there, the Cardinals firmly became Kurt Warner's team.

Over his final two seasons in the Valley, Leinart started one game and made 12 total appearances. In that span, he threw only one touchdown and 699 yards.

Franchise quarterbacks are hard to come by, but the Matt Leinart experiment was proof that all the hype in the world coming out of college doesn't guarantee anything at the next level.

Well, at least he still has his hot tub.

1. Andre Wadsworth (No. 3 pick in 1998 Draft), Defensive End, Florida State

If there was a "can't miss" defensive prospect in the 1998 Draft it was Florida State's Andre Wadsworth. The 6-foot-4 lineman was athletic (former tight end), freakishly strong (benched 500 pounds at the Combine) and versatile (played both end and tackle at Florida State).

The former ACC Player of the Year seemed like a perfect fit in Arizona, as the Cardinals struggled to stop everybody in 1997 (seventh-worst against the pass and eighth-worst against the run).

But it was never a match made in heaven for the Cardinals or Wadsworth.

The No. 3 overall pick held out for 44 days and missed the entire training camp/preseason period. Despite the layoff, the former Florida State standout didn't have a bad rookie season, as he recorded five sacks and 57 tackles. The promise was there, but Wadsworth never got a chance to really show it.

Over the next two seasons, Wadsworth played in only 20 games due to three different knee operations. Shortly after his third procedure in January 2001, the Cardinals released him and he never played a down in the NFL again.

Three other Pro Bowlers (Charles Woodson, Fred Taylor, Kyle Turley) were selected after Wadsworth in the top 10.

Honorable Mention: Garrison Hearst (No. 3 in 1993) and Leonard Davis (No. 2 in 2001)

About the Author

School: USC

Started with Bonneville Phoenix: September 2012

Favorite Sports Memory: Going to Game 7 of the 2001 World Series

Favorite all-time athlete: A.C. Green

Favorite sports movies: Field of Dreams, The Scout and Remember the Titans


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