Top 10 Worst Arizona Cardinals Draft Busts (Series 9 of 10)
We are now down to the final two draft busts for the Arizona Cardinals since moving to Arizona in 1988. These were guys who the team drafted in the first and second rounds of the NFL Draft, and expected to have an immediate impact. These last two busts played the roles of the most important positions of the offensive side of the ball, but just could never live up to those such expectations. I will admit, I had a hard time with the order of these last two players, but I think just for the reasons of how they failed us, may speak for themselves.
Before we unveil the number 2 bust though, we must look at our series in review. Starting in as the 10th worst was Cody Brown. Then we covered three running backs in a row; as the 9th worst belonged to that “Lectric Leeland McElroy, followed byChuck Levy at 8th, then the 7th was Anthony Thompson. Two receiver made the list back to back; asBryant Johnson held the 6th spot, while David Boston brought us to the halfway point being the 5th worst bust in the series. The 4th brought us a double whammy of two defensive lineman busts with Andre Wadsworth and Wendall Bryant. Then we ventured back into a popular position in this series with Beanie Wells as the 3rd worst bust, and probably most popular of all the running backs on the list.
So who is the man who will grace us with his presence in this next to last portion of our series? It is a quarterback that was given the chance to be a star right away, but may have wasted the opportunity. Many also feel that he was just given a raw deal and never got a fair shake to be the signal caller that he should have been. Never-the-less, the quarter back that never was is none other than:
Matt Leinart, QB/2006, 1st round(10th overall)
Leinart had a remarkable career at USC. He won two national championships and a Heisman Trophy as a Trojan. Matt chose to forego an opportunity to be the 1st overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft and play for the San Francisco 49ers. Instead Leinart decided to stay for his senior season.Vince Young spoiled his chances at a third national title with a game winning touchdown in the in the 2005 Rose Bowl.
In 1006 the Cardinals felt they got a steel when Leinart fell to them at pick 10. Nobody expected him to drop that low. Then head coach Dennis Green called it “a gift from heaven.” He started 11 games as a rookie, and seamed to pick up where he left off in college, showing signs of potential greatness. The Cardinals still finished 5-11 that season, and Leinart had to leave in the middle of the last game of the season with a sprained shoulder. It would also mark the end of the Denny Green era as Cardinals coach. Perhaps it was this meltdown in his post-game press conference after an embarrassing loss to the Chicago Bears in week 6, that persuaded the Cardinals franchise to part ways with him.
In 2007 under then newly acquired coach Ken Whisenhunt, Leinart was named the starting quarterback; but the new coach wanted to insert Kurt Warner in the two-minute drills. That changed after Leinart broke his collarbone and his season came to an end. Leinart was given the starting gig again in 2008, but Warner swooped in and took the role right from underneath him and never looked back as the rest would be history; Warner leading the Cardinals to two straight division championships, and a super bowl appearance.
Warner’s retirement made for an inevitable new beginning for the four year veteran. Leinart finally had a chance to be “the man,” but he never could do anything to show that he should be the Cardinals franchise quarterback. His release before the start of the 2010 season came as a bit of a surprise, as the coach decided to go in a different direction. Leinart went from being a “gift from heaven” to a cast-off with a few other teams. He is currently a free-agent possibly awaiting another gig in the NFL.
We may never know the reasoning behind Leinart’s apparent blatant decent. Why didn’t the Cardinals stick with him? It could have been many things ranging from injuries, poor work ethic, or perhaps he just was beleaguered with pressures such as other quarterbacks lingering in his way, and just couldn’t handle it.
Leinart never lived up to his pedigree of being a franchise quarterback. Nobody had it better made than he did, coming from such a popular school in Southern California, and with all the success he endured while playing there. He was not drafted as high as most of the other players in this series, but based on the simple fact that Leinart was brought in to be the face of the franchise, yet has done nothing but squander away his many opportunities at it, he nearly tops the list of the worst draft busts for the Cardinals.
That’s right; Leinart may have been the number one worst draft bust on many others list’s, but not this one.
Before this years(2014) draft begins, we shall unveil the most mischievous, most king Kong of all busts. I’m sure a lot of you could take a wild guess as to who it may be, but please do not spoil it for others.
Phoenix Sports-Kings contributor Jason Mulkey @_JayBird79