Continuing this Pro Football Focus series, we’re going back to look at three-years worth of draft classes for each team (2008 through 2010, with it being too soon to look at 2011), and putting the picks through our own grading scheme with our Draft Grader.
Every draft pick (this does not include undrafted free agents) will get a grade between +2.0 and -2.0 (in 0.5 increments) that depends upon:
• Where they were drafted
• Their performance
• Their contribution (how many snaps their team got out of them)
• Other factors, such as unforeseen injuries and conditions that could not have been accounted for
Next up is the St. Louis Rams.
+2.0: You’ve just found Tom Brady in the 6th round!
Unfortunately, Keith Null didn’t follow in Brady’s footsteps.
+1.5: Getting much more than you bargained for!
These weren’t the drafts where the Rams found many steals.
+1.0: The scouts nailed it!
Chris Long, DE (2nd overall pick in 2008): The debate may rage as to whether a No. 2 overall pick should be a more complete player. Truth is, Long is such a good pass rusher that you can look past his shortcomings in run defense. His +74.1 pass rushing grade over the past three years is indicative of the impact he’s had.
+0.5: Never hurts to find a solid contributor
Chris Chamberlain, LB (228th overall pick in 2008): No longer on the roster, Chamberlain started making an impression on special teams in 2009 with a team-leading 12 tackles (a feat that he repeated in 2010). More than just a special teams player, the former seventh-round pick saw significant action (621 snaps) on defense where he earned a +0.0 grade.
David Vobora, LB (252nd overall pick in 2008): The greatest shame about Vobora might be the fact the Rams never really appreciated the player they had. His excellent start to 2009 was hampered by a suspension, which resulted in Vobora successfully suing a company for producing a supplement that contained substances not on the label. That seemed to derail his Rams career, but turning a ‘Mr. Irrelevant’ into a constant performer on special teams who managed 691 snaps on defense is a good value. This is especially true since that player earned a +11.7 grade in those snaps.
James Laurinaitis, LB (35th overall pick in 2009): An up and down player. Has good instincts for the ball and contributes on every down, but struggles to get off blocks and can be really taken out of games.
Rodger Saffold, T (33rd overall pick in 2010): After an impressive rookie year came a horrible sophomore season that saw everyone sour on him. However, when he got on the field a year later he played like an above average starting left tackle. Future is up in the air with Jake Long on the team, but he’s delivered above his drafting so far.
Michael Hoomanawanui, TE (132nd overall pick in 2010): Not just a man with a cool name, while “Illinois Mike” has had some problems staying healthy he did look talented when he was on the field. A shame St Louis got only two years of production out of him.
0.0: Nothing ventured, nothing gained (It could have been worse)
Keenan Burton, WR (128th overall pick in 2008): For a sixth-round pick, the Rams got a receiver who failed to set the world on fire. However, he did manage 425 yards in two years before a serious knee injury cut his 2009 season short, marking the end of his Rams career.
Roy Schuening, G (157th overall pick in 2008): You kind of hope a fifth-round pick ends up managing more than five special team snaps and one year on the roster.
Bradley Fletcher, CB (66th overall pick in 2009): When Fletcher has played, he’s looked like a competent starter. Two serious injuries have limited his snaps and, while he played well in 2012, it wasn’t to a level (and of a quantity) that it would turn this into a positive.
Dorell Scott, DT (103rd overall pick in 2009): While Scott hasn’t started any games since his rookie year (where he started five), he did look decent when contributing, particularly in run defense. Didn’t play enough to warrant a higher grade.
Brooks Foster, WR (160th overall pick in 2009): Something of a miss, the Rams largely get a pass on Foster because of an ankle injury he suffered in the 2009 preseason that played its part in him never catching on.
Keith Null, QB (196th overall pick in 2009): The Rams gave up on Null after giving him plenty of game time as a rookie. What is his redeeming feature? His poor play helped the Rams earn the No. 1 overall pick and a chance to draft a franchise quarterback.
Chris Ogbonnaya, RB (211th overall pick in 2009): Very little was expected out of Ogbonnaya and very little was delivered with just 49 snaps on offense. He found himself on the Texans’ practice squad before being picked up by the Browns last year.
Fendi Onobun, TE (170th overall pick in 2010): A low risk/high reward pick, Onobun was a project that just didn’t work despite his athletic abilities. You can’t fault St. Louis for trying to find the next Antonio Gates, even if it didn’t pan out.
Eugene Sims, DE (189th overall pick in 2010): The Rams have got more playing time out of Sims than you’d expect from a sixth-rounder. It’s just a shame he hasn’t been all that productive.
Marquis Johnson, CB (211th overall pick in 2010): Had problems with injuries and no longer with the team after featuring in 117 defensive snaps.
George Selvie, DE (226th overall pick in 2010): Selvie saw considerable action in 2010, even notching two sacks. He failed to generate consistent pressure, though, and found himself waived after a year.
Josh Hull, LB (254th overall pick in 2010): A career special teamer, Hull has had both his years in the NFL cut short by injuries. The 43 snaps in 2012 don’t turn this into a success.
-0.5: That pick was not put to good use
Donnie Avery, WR (33rd overall pick in 2008): As a rookie it looked like Avery may become the downfield threat to make Rams fans forget about Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce. However, 2009 proved a big step backward as passes were dropped and big plays were down, with questions emerging whether Avery was over-drafted. A serious knee injury in 2010 ended a disappointing Rams career.
John Greco, G (65th overall pick in 2008): The frustrating thing about Greco is we always saw talent when he was on the field. Maybe he just stunk it up on the practice field? Shined in the second half of the season with the Browns last year.
Justin King, CB (101st overall pick in 2008): You don’t expect an awful lot from guys picked outside the Top 100 players from any draft, but King has been so bad when he’s been on the field that he has to get a negative grade. King was our worst ranked cornerback in 2011, just as he was back in 2009.
Sam Bradford, QB (1st overall pick in 2010): The jury is very much out on Bradford, who hasn’t delivered in a way you’d expect from a first overall pick. You can blame it on the line, or the supporting cast, but at some point you have to question the accuracy and playmaking of Bradford. Plenty of time to turn it around, but the Rams need a lot more from him.
Jerome Murphy, CB (65th overall pick in 2010): Season 2012 was set to be a big year for Murphy but the Rams had seen enough and waived him a year later after just 183 defensive snaps.
Mardy Gilyard, WR (99th overall pick in 2010): The Rams have been (and continue to be) wide receiver needy. Gilyard was so underwhelming he managed just 63 yards and 182 snaps before the Rams cut him loose after one season with the team.
Hall Davis, DE (149th overall pick in 2010): How unimpressed were the Rams with Davis? So much so they tried to get around the ‘85 % rule’ so they could get out of paying him … just four months after drafting him.
-1.0: What a waste!
The Rams didn’t really waste any picks. Except for one which they really whiffed on…
-1.5: The scouts failed, big time!
Jason Smith, OT (2nd overall pick in 2009): It doesn’t get much worse than this when you look at wasted draft picks. The Rams spent an awful lot of money on a player who has continually underperformed when he hasn’t been injured. Graded negatively in 16 of the 29 games when he’s taken the field since being drafted, Smith was quickly replaced (by a rookie second-rounder) at left tackle after the Rams deemed him untrustworthy there. Traded away for Wayne Hunter who would somehow represent an upgrade.
-2.0: You just drafted the love child of JaMarcus Russell and Ryan Leaf!
There were no Russell/Leaf hybrids to pick from.
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