The 2012 football season is finally kicking off. It’s season one of the Jeff Fisher era in St. Louis and at least season five of the St. Louis Rams rebuilding process. With Jeff Fisher hitting the roster reset button this summer, one has to wonder how many more years of rebuilding Rams fans will have to endure? One? Two? More? Can a team with so many high draft picks over the past few years still be that far away?
Jason Smith gone. Donnie Avery gone. Jerome Murphy gone. Mardy Gilyard gone. John Greco gone. Greg Salas gone. Michael Hoomanawanui gone. Like so many of former General Manager Billy Devaney’s draft picks, gone and soon forgotten.
Devaney presided over four drafts from 2008 through 2011 and in three of the four, the Rams drafted no lower than second overall. Included in that stretch was the 2010 draft, in which the Rams held not only the first overall pick (which they used on Sam Bradford) but also had the luxury of holding the first pick on each day of the first three day draft in NFL history. With teams having a night to restack their draft boards, the team picking first the next day is typically presented with trade opportunities. For a team that is annually regarded as having “too many holes to fill in one off season”, the potential to manufacture extra players or draft picks was just what the doctor ordered. Unfortunately, Devaney never manufactured much of anything with those picks, opting to sit tight and just pick when his turn came.
What do we have to show for those drafts and all those prime draft picks? Chris Long, Sam Bradford, James Laurinaitis, Robert Quinn, Rodger Saffold and Lance Kendricks. You can throw in a few more marginal reserves. No All-Pros. No Pro Bowls. Just six starters, several of which have to elevate their level of play if they want to retain that status. In fairness, both Long and Laurinaitis appear on the verge of becoming household names and Robert Quinn has shown signs this preseason of becoming a pass rushing force. But with the wealth of draft picks the Rams have had, there should be more. Sadly, as noted by Peter King this week in his Monday Morning Quarterback column, 24 players on the Rams 2011 opening day roster aren’t even in the league any more. I guess that explains the 2-14 record.
But the good news is, that’s all in the rear view mirror. The future belongs to Jeff Fisher and Les Snead. It’s up to them to rebuild this team. With the 2012 draft, the blockbuster trade with the Washington Redskins and 60% roster turnover from 2011 to 2012, it appears they’re well on their way.