In Arizona Cardinals' draft history over the past couple of decades, there is one position that has perhaps been the most problematic when drafting high. That would have to be the position of running back. Dating all the way back to Anthony Thompson, it has been an issue. They have had better luck in later rounds in picking up contributors to the running game, but the most highly rated and drafted players seem to find their way to the bust list when it comes to the NFL Draft.
Beanie Wells, the Cardinals' latest highly drafted running back is still on the "wait and see" list, but has thus far been a bit of a disappointment. Today's draft bust is yet another running back that was not good here, although he blossomed once he left the desert.
In review, draft bust number 10 was Cody Brown in 2009. Bust number nine was running back Chuck Levy in 1994. Bust number eight was running back Leeland McElroy in 1996. The Cardinals' seventh biggest bust was receiver Bryant Johnson in 2003. Draft bust number six takes us all the way back to 1990 with RB Anthony Thompson. Yesterday's choice for biggest bust number five was cornerback Tom Knight.
The fourth biggest bust for the Cardinals in the NFL Draft was running back Thomas Jones.
Jones was a stud running back out of Virginia. He was drafted by the Cardinals with the seventh overall pick in the draft. His impact was never felt here in Phoenix. He did run for over 1200 yards...in three seasons! His best yards per carry in Arizona was a paltry 3.7. He eventually fell out of graces with the coaching staff as Michael Pittman became the starter.
He had off the field issues and had a hard time staying healthy. Most famous was his final injury that led to being placed on IR. He had a broken hand, which he claimed was from answering the phone (aka, punching the phone or something else).
He was just another cog in a long line of running backs who failed to meet the high expectations of his talent.
What is the most frustrating thing about Jones is that he later blossomed into a very good player. After a healthy 2003 season where he played part-time in Tampa Bay, he moved on the Chicago and won over his teammates for his effort after the Bears drafted Cedric Benson to take over for him. Benson was never able to do it.
Jones after rushing for 1200 yards in three Cardinals season has since had four individual seasons of over 1200 yards (he also eclipsed 1100 in another season), including 1402 yards as a member of the New York Jets in 2009. Even in 2010, sharing time in the backfield with Jamaal Charles for the Chiefs, he logged just under 900 yards for the season.
So while he has not been a bust for his career, he certainly was one of the bigger ones for the Cardinals.
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