The Rams have had plenty of first round picks over the years and, moving into the 2014 version, benefit from the trade for Robert Griffin III that the Redskins made which has given the Rams the second overall selection in addition to their own. But are they likely to make good use of that pick? Only by assessing recent draft choices can we begin to make a judgement on the likelihood of St. Louis picking correctly when May comes around.
So here, without further ado, is an indication of the Rams’ success in the draft since 2000.
14. 2000 – Trung Canidate, RB, 31st pick
A definite bust, Canidate was a surprise selection given the Rams recent acquisition of Marshall Faulk. Starting just three games whilst with the franchise, he also showed a strong tendency to fumble and was shipped off to the Redskins after two seasons. His career ended on the inactive list in 2003.
13. 2006 – Tye Hill, CB, 15th pick
Hill played for three seasons in St. Louis, but his performance tailed off after his rookie year in which he recorded 50 tackles and three picks whilst starting 10 of 16 games. In his second season he played in eight games before being placed on IR and just four the following year before a torn knee cartilage cost him his chance to impress and effectively ended his career with Rams. After one season with the Falcons he has had two failed attempts to make rosters in Tennessee and Detroit.
12. 2007 – Adam Carriker, DE, 13th pick
Carriker’s Rams’ career is a curious one, lasting just three years before a trade to the Redskins in 2010. Prior to that he appeared in 31 games over his first two years in the league, recording 53 tackles and two sacks. Injury meant he was placed on IR for the entire 2009 season, meaning his career in St Louis ended in disappointing circumstances.
11. 2005 – Alex Barron, OT, 19th pick
Barron struggled to adapt to life in the NFL following his selection with the 19th pick, despite starting from his rookie season. During his time in St. Louis he became one of the most penalised players in the entire League, racking up more than 70 calls against him, including a raft of false starts and seven holding calls alone in 2009. After leaving the Rams he moved to Dallas and New Orleans before ending up on summer rosters in Seattle and Oakland.
10. 2003 – Jimmy Kennedy, DT, 12th pick
Kennedy spent four seasons with the Rams after becoming the second defensive tackle in three years to be selected in the first round. Initially he found his chances limited and managed just one tackle in 13 games during his rookie year. The following year he started five of nine games, recording 16 tackles. His only regular action for the Rams came in 2005 and 2006 during which time he started 25 of 31 appearances at nose tackle, recording 72 tackles, four sacks and two forced fumbles.
9. 2009 – Jason Smith, OT, 2nd pick
Smith managed just three seasons in St. Louis before being traded to the Jets. In that time he managed to play in 29 games, although he had to start at his less preferred position of right tackle for much of that time after being beaten to the left tackle berth in 2010 by rookie Rodger Saffold in 2010. 16 games with the Jets followed in 2012 before he was released and he has not played since.
8. 2001 – Damione Lewis, DT, 12th pick
The earliest of six defensive linemen selected with the first pick since 2000, Lewis played for five years in St. Louis. Overall he started 29 of his 69 appearances and managed to record 10.5 sacks. Injuries hampered his effectiveness, with career highs of 61 tackles, five sacks and eight quarterback pressures occurring in the 2004 season.
7. 2002 – Robert Thomas, LB, 31st pick
Thomas remained in St. Louis for three seasons following his selection at the end of the first round in 2002. He started 30 games in that time, racking up 163 tackles, before being traded to the Packers in 2005. He also played for Oakland before being cut from the Redskins’ practice squad in 2009.
6. 2013 – Tavon Austin, WR, 8th pick
The Rams traded up for the chance to pick Austin in last year’s draft. One of two explosive receivers/returners to be selected last year Austin performed well, but suffered in comparison to the Vikings’ first year star Cordarrelle Patterson. Nevertheless the former West Virginia star managed to haul in 40 passes for 418 yards and fours scores, including a huge game against Indianapolis where his 2 receptions both resulted in touchdowns over a combined distance of 138 yards. He also ran for a 65 yard score and returned a punt 98 yards for a touchdown too. Austin has bags of potential and, although inconsistent in his rookie year, he has all the tools to justify his high selection.
5. 2012 – Michael Brockers, DT, 14th pick
Brockers has appeared in 29 games (including all 16 last time out) in his first two seasons in the NFL. He has racked up 77 tackles, 9.5 sacks and forced two fumbles and has been a consistent presence on the Rams’ line. A solid selection, with plenty of promise and room to improve in future seasons too.
4. 2010 – Sam Bradford, QB, 1st pick
The jury is very much still out on the Rams’ signal caller. Having been signed to an astronomically high contract after being taken with the first pick in 2010, Bradford has shown promise and been frustrating ion equal measure. In his rookie year he set records for the most passes by a rookie without an interception (169) most completions by a rookie (354). 3512 yards and a passer rating of 76.5 in his rookie year marked an impressive debut season, but injury and a loss of form followed in 2011. A rating of 70.5 and just six touchdown passes are not what you expect from a number one draft pick. Rebounding in 2012 he achieved career bests with 3702 yards, 21 touchdowns and a passer rating of 82.6. His injury curse hit again last year when he was placed on IR after seven games when in prime form. If he can reproduce his passer rating of 90.9 from last year and an impressive 14-4 touchdown to interception ration then the Rams pick will be a good one. If he goes down injured again then they may well decide to cut their losses.
3. 2008 – Chris Long, DE, 2nd pick
Long is the most recent of the Rams’ picks to remain on the roster in St Louis. With 222 tackles and 50.5 sacks so far in his career, Long has appeared in all 16 games of every season since his selection. With double digit figures for quarterback sacks in 2011 (13) and 2010 (11.5), Long has so far shown that the Rams made a solid choice with this pick and they will be looking for him to continue making an impact in the 2014 season.
2. 2011 – Robert Quinn, DE, 14th pick
In three seasons with the Rams, Quinn has emerged as one of the more effective pass rushers in the League. The 2013 season saw him voted to the Pro Bowl as the sack leader in the NFL with 19. He has now recorded 109 tackles, 34.5 sacks and forced eight fumbles in his career so far and was also voted PFWA defensive player of the year for the 2013 campaign. He has definitely realised the promise that St Louis saw when taking him with the 14th pick.
1.2004 – Steven Jackson, RB, 24th pick
Jackson is definitely s player who proved his worth and justified the faith that was shown in him. Three Pro Bowl selections and the NFC rushing title in 2009, along with the Rams’ career record for rushing yards is evidence of a successful pick. With 10,135 yards and 56 touchdowns on the ground and 407 catches (with eight touchdown receptions), Jackson is undoubtedly one of the Rams’ best ever draft picks.
Some great choices and some terrible ones in this list suggest that Rams fans can have cautious optimism when it comes to the forthcoming draft. Although they may need to buck the trend from defensive linemen and pick some pass protection up for Bradford if he is to be able to realise his potential this year...