Jim Thomas, of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, recently unveiled his “50 Worst Rams Draft Picks,” compiling a comprehensive list of the worst players that the St. Louis Rams have taken since the mid-1990s when the team moved from Los Angeles. A wise man was quoted as saying,
“The past should be a learning experience not an everlasting punishment. What’s done is done. Constantly going over the ore deals you previously faced will only be a burden in your life.”
Some of the St. Louis Rams’ choices have certainly “burdened” the lives of those who associate themselves with the Rams’ organization. However, as the Rams move into this new era of Les Snead and Jeff Fisher, it seems like a perfect time to look back and reflect on some of the “poorer” selections made by the team over the past half decade. So, without further ado, here is the list of players taken in the last five years that made Thomas’ cut of the worst draft picks in St. Louis Rams’ history…
2. Jason Smith, OT, Baylor (2nd overall, 2009)
Jason Smith might be one of the more despised players on the team in recent memory; not because of anything he did, but more of what he didn’t do… block. Smith started off his career with a bang, playing only seven games his rookie season. He would step up his game in 2010, getting permanently slotted at right tackle after Rodger Saffold was brought in during the 2010 NFL Draft. That season, Smith committed nine penalties (10th among RT) and allowed 43 total pressures on then-rookie, Sam Bradford. In the final game of the season, the one that would determine whether or not it was the Seahawks or Rams that took home the NFC West crown and the last remaining spot in the playoffs, Smith allowed 3 sacks and 5 hurries; a devastatingly high amount. In 2011, he played only six game, and was eventually shipped to New York in 2012 in exchange for Wayne Hunter. Adding insult to injury, we later learned that the St. Louis Rams paid a little extra, just to ensure the trade went through…
20. John Greco, G/OT, Toledo (65th overall, 2008)
When was the last time the St. Louis Rams finished out a season with the same starting-five offensive linemen? Greco was drafted as back-up that would, hopefully, work his way into the starting lineup when the opportunity presented itself. Sadly, the 3rd-rounder played in only 453 snaps in the first two seasons of his career, most of those coming during the meaningless games at the end of the year. He was let go after this third year with the St. Louis Rams, eventually getting some time as a starter in Cleveland. Last year, Greco played 714 snaps for the Browns, allowing only 3 sacks, 7 hits, and 7 hurries. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, I suppose.
25. Jerome Murphy, CB, South Florida (65th Overall, 2010)
When Fisher and Co. let Jerome Murphy go at the beginning of the 2012 season, no one could likely imagine the path his career would take. Murphy saw some time in the nickel and dime packages during his rookie year, playing 149 snaps in coverage. However, he allowed an astounding 79.2% catch rate, 10+ yard per catch average, and gave up two touchdowns. To make a long story short, Murphy got thrown on the IR to start off his sophomore season, and got dumped in 2012. He was then passed around the NFL last year, being claimed by the New Orleans Saints, Detroit Lions, and Washington Redskins at various points in the season…
30. Mardy Gilyard, WR, Cincinnati (99th Overall, 2010)
Many in St. Louis were extremely excited about the idea of adding Mardy Gilyard, especially within a draft class that was hyped up as adding both a franchise quarterback and franchise left tackle in the opening two rounds. Instead, Gilyard never saw the field, plagued by an apparent lack of understanding of the playbook… it certainly was not due to a surplus of talent in the receiving corps. During his rookie season, the Rams’ leading receivers were Danny Amendola (in his one healthy year), Brandon Gibson, Daniel Fells, and Steven Jackson. If that wasn’t bad enough, Kenneth Darby, the sort-of back-up running back to Steven Jackson, caught more passes than Mardy Gilyard.
31. Justin King, CB, Penn State (101st Overall, 2008)
To see how “busted” this pick was, be need only look to Justin King’s last season in a St. Louis Rams uniform. Due to injuries to the three cornerbacks ahead of him on the depth chart (Ron Bartell, Bradley Fletcher, and Jerome Murphy), King was on the field for 687 defensive snaps during the 2011 season, including 381 snaps in coverage. Of the 66 players in the NFL that season who played at least 50% of the total defensive snaps, Justin King ranked 66th… out of 66 total players. King allowed 13.3 yard per reception and 6 receiving touchdowns as a starter, including a 74 yard touchdown to Torrey Smith in his rookie “coming out party” in Baltimore.
37. Darrell Scott, DT, Clemson (103rd Overall, 2009)
38. Keenan Burton, WR, Kentucky (128th Overall, 2008)
42. Greg Salas, WR, Hawaii (112th Overall, 2011)
43. Fendi Onobun, TE, Houston (170th Overall, 2010)
47. Donnie Avery, WR, Houston (33rd Overall, 2008)