Top 10 Illinois football NFL Draft busts of all time

Illinois football has had some talent over the decades, but some of that talent hasn't translated into the NFL ranks. Some NFL teams have taken a chance on an Illini player and have been burnt.
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As time goes on, there will be more and more Illinois football players who make it to the NFL.

Just in the last few years, multiple Illini players have been selected in the NFL Draft. With more draft picks comes the chance for some of the players to not have a good NFL career.

There have been a few handfuls of former Illinois football players who had great careers in Champaign but couldn't transition to the NFL for one reason or another. So, I put together a list of the top 10 busts in program history.

Here is the top 10 Illinois football NFL Draft busts of all time

. Wilscon. LB Martez Wilson. player. 15. . 3rd Round, #72 Pick. 2011 NFL Draft. LB Martez Wilson. 10

  • 33 tackles, 5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles
  • 38 games, 1 start
  • 0 Pro Bowls
  • 3 NFL teams
  • 3 seasons

I had such high hopes for Martez Wilson coming out of high school. Ron Zook landed some great recruiting classes, and Wilson was one of the few five-star recruits Illinois has ever landed.

Wilson had a good career with the Illini and even made the All-Big Ten first team in his final year in 2010. This great season of 112 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, and 4.0 sacks caught the eye of many NFL teams. In the 3rd round, with pick No. 72, the New Orleans Saints took a chance on Wilson.

It took Wilson three seasons before he was out of the NFL. He played for the Saints, Dallas Cowboys, and Oakland Raiders, and combined for 33 tackles, 3.0 tackles for loss, and two forced fumbles.

3rd Round, #62 Pick. player. Jones. . 1989 NFL Draft. RB Keith Jones. RB Keith Jones. . 9. 44

  • 791 yards, 6 TDs, 3.7 YPC
  • 50 games, 30 starts
  • 0 Pro Bowls
  • 1 NFL team
  • 4 seasons

Along with the wide receiver position, Illinois has also had some great running backs throughout time. Keith Jones was one of the best ball carriers for the Illini in the 1980s. He had some great seasons capped off with his senior year of 206 carries for 1,108 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also had 374 yards receiving that year.

Jones’ dual-threat ability coming out of the backfield made him an intriguing prospect in the NFL. The Atlanta Falcons ended up taking him in the third round, pick No. 62, in the 1989 NFL Draft.

A solid rookie season of 598 yards from scrimmage and six touchdowns never developed from there. His yards per carry consistently decreased, and by year four, he averaged 3.5 yards per carry and only amassed 372 yards from scrimmage. That was Jones’ final season in the NFL. He finished his NFL career with 791 yards and six touchdowns on the ground and 651 yards and zero touchdowns receiving.