Friday, April 24, 2020

Reviewing the St. Louis-Era Rams Number One Draft Picks

By John Turney
To analyze the St. Louis Rams top picks we do have to grandfather in the 1992-94 Los Angeles Rams #1 picks because they and their "residual value" are relevant to the St. Louis era. And likewise, the St. Louis picks (the later ones) and their residuals have meaning to the more recent Rams drafts.

"Residual value" is what a pick brings in value when they are traded away, either a player or a pick or picks. Sometimes it's high, more often it's not.

Rams take Sean Gilbert, a 6-5, 315, 4.8 forty defensive tackle. He's All-Rookie in 1992 and All-Pro in 1993. Takes a step back in 1994, as did many on the team, and played right defensive end in the base defense in 1995 and move inside in passing situations. contract issues and fit cause him to be traded to Washington for a 1996 #1 draft pick. The #1 Pick is Lawrence Phillips.

Jerome Bettis is the pick. He's All-Pro and All-Rookie in 1993 and a Pro Bowler in 1994. In 1995, he has moments but also does not shine either, and feels misused in a Rich Brooks offense. He's asked to play fullback in 1996, says he accepts, but Rams change their minds and trade him for to the Steelers for a #2 pick and a swap of a #3 and #4.

The #2 pick became Ernie Conwell who was tried at the fullback position the Rams wanted (a lead blocker for Lawrence Phillips). However, Conwell failed there and was moved back to his college position of tight end and was a solid NFL player at that spot.
Wayne Gandy is taken #1 and starts as a rookie. College & Pro Football Newsweekly name him All-Rookie. He played steady and solidly but not spectacularly. He was lost to free agency prior to the 1999 season. He played 10 more seasons in the NFL.


The newly relocated Rams take Kevin Carter, a 6-5, 275, 4.7 defensive end who starts as a rookie and is All-Rookie by Football News and College & Pro Football Newsweekly. He is a very good end, even great in 1998-1999. In 1999 he's All-Pro, leads the NFL in sacks and is named the Defensive Player of the Year by the Dallas Morning News as the Rams win the Super Bowl.

In 2000 Carter has back issues and is accused by Mike Martz of not giving full effort and is quoes as saying "Kevin Carter will not ever play another down for the St. Louis Rams". After the season he is traded for a #1 pick (29th overall). That pick became Ryan Pickett (see '2001' later in this post). Carter goes into have eight more solid seasons in the NFL.

Lawrence Phillips is chosen by the Rams with the pick obtained in theSean GIlbert deal. Only one Rams scout vehemently opposed the selection due to Phillips' questionable character—Dave Razzano. The Rams took him anyway and he was cut midway through his second season. So, not only a bust, not nothing in salvage value either.

In 1996 the Rams had their own First-round pick and took Eddie Kennison. He played three years (he was All-Rookie in 1996) and then traded for a 2nd round pick in 1999. That pick became Dre Bly who was a fine nickel back for the Rams for a few years.

Orlando Pace was the Rams pick (after a trade-up with the Jets) and he had a Hall of Fame career with the Rams.

The Rams took Grant Wistrom (6-4½, 260, 4.67) and he played six years for the Rams then he left via free agency (to Seattle) in 2004.
Torry Holt was the top pick in 1999.  He was All-Rookie and All-Pro had has a near-HOF career for the St. Louis Rams and will likely be inducted one day.
After three excellent relatively long-term, productive picks the Rams chose Trung Canidate in 2000. He was traded for a 2003 4th round pick ( Dejuan Groce—a cornerback out of Nebraska) and running back David Loverne.
The Rams had First-round picks three picks in 2001. One they received for Trent Green and another for Kevin Carter and their own. For Green, they got Damione Lewis (6-3, 290, 4.91) a three-technique style defensive tackle who was supposed to be the Rams 'Warren Sapp' in their new Tampa-2 defense they were going to employ under new defensive coordinator Lovie Smith who had just joined the Rams after serving under Tony Dungy for years.

With their own pick, they took Adam Archuleta (All-Rookie) who was to be their 'John Lynch'. And with the pick they received for Kevin Carter, they took Ryan "Grease" Pickett (6-2, 309, 4.98) who was the "Dooger McFarland" nose tackle-type.

Archuleta and Pickett had their moments, Lewis less so. All three left via free agency in 2006 and the rams signed a few free agents so the compensation picks they received was minimal, two seventh rounders in 2006. Pickett was solid for several more years in the NFL. Lewis and Archuleta were only fair players.
The Rams needed a middle linebacker to recreate the style of defense they needed and thought Robert Thomas of UCLA was that guy. He wasn't. In 2005 they traded him to the Packers for cornerback Chris Johnson (who instantly became one of the fastest Rams ever). But he didn't last long, though he did run back a kick for a touchdown. But, nonetheless, the production was minimal and the residual value was also minimal.

Thomas ended up playing three years with the Raiders, one as a starter.

Two years after taking two defensive tackles in the first round the Rams took another, Jimmy Kennedy (6-4, 323, 5.20), in 2003. It was supposedly a "best available" player thing. There was some confusion in the draft with the Vikings not getting their pick in and as a result, it was theorized Kennedy kept falling. Kennedy was projected to go much higher than the Rams pick and he was sitting there, even though the Rams had other needs.

In 2007 the Rams dumped him for a 6th round pick and Kennedy was on five different rosters over the next five years. The "residual value" is hard to figure but here goes:  The 6th rounder was couple with another 6th rounder and the Rams got back a 5th and a 7th that became guard Roy Schuening from Oregon State and linebacker Chris Chamberlain who the Rams top core special teams player for several seasons. Schuening never made the team.
Steven Jackson was a great pick in 2004. He played his guts out for nine years on poor teams then was released and signed with the Falcons and finished up as a Patriot.
The Rams needed a tackle to pair with Orlando Pace and Alex Barron was their man. Barron was named by Football Outsiders as an All-Rookie tackle but overall he was often a penalty machine and eventually had to move to left tackle to replace Pace who left for the Bears.

Most in the Rams though Barron loved basketball more than football and was a "paycheck" player. After the 2009 season, the Rams traded Barron to Dallas for Bobby Carpenter. Carpenter didn't make the Rams team but did play 35 more games in the NFL with the Lions, Dolphins, and Patriots but the Rams coaches could not seem to find a role for him.

Tye Hill was the Rams pick and they got a little 'kicker' because they traded down they got an extra 3rd rounder who turned out to be defensive tackle Claude Wroten (not that he added much).

Hill played three years (was a rookie starter and was All-Rookie), was hurt for two of them and Rams GM Bill Devaney traded him to Atlanta for a 7th round pick with which the Rams took George Selvie who played one year for the Rams and had a six-year NFL career, starting two seasons with Dallas.

The Rams drafted another defensive tackle in 2007—Adam Carriker. he was a lineman without a real position in a 4-3 defense. He played mostly at nose tackle but a 6-6 was too tall (according to usually NFL PQs (physical qualities) and it was said that he had very small feet for a man that tall and that cost him leverage.

Regardless, in 2010 he was traded to Washington, a 3-4 base defense team and it fit Carriker better. There he had two good years then got hurt.

For Carriker, the Rams basically netted a 7th round pick according to the NFL Draft chart, based on all the plusses and minus involved, but it is more complicated than that.

It goes like this: The Rams sent Carriker and a 5th (163rd) and a 7th (208th) to Washington for a higher 5th (the 135th) and a 7th (the 211th). With the 211th the Rams selected cornerback Marquis Johnson (played 5 games for the Rams over two seasons).

The Rams traded the 135th for a 5th (#149) and a 6th (#189) which became defensive ends Hall Davis and Eugene Sims respectively.

So, in essence, for Carriker the Rams got Sims. Sims beat out Selvie and Hall Davis and then went on to be a really good fourth defensive end for the Rams who also played defensive tackle in nickel situations before Aaron Donald showed up. he game the Rams seven good seasons.

No, he didn't have big numbers, but he spelled the starters, and made lots of "plays per snap" over the years, meaning there was not a huge drop off when he was in the game which is all you can ask of a backup.

Chris Long  (6-3, 272, 4.72) was the top pick in 2008 was named All-Rookie and gave the Rams eight seasons but the last-two were injury-marred and led to his release after the 2015 season. He was especially good from 2010-2013 though he never made a Pro Bowl he was certainly of that quality those four seasons.

He played three more in the NFL, one with the Patriots and two as a nickel rusher for the Eagles winning a Super Bowl ring with the Patriots and Eagles.

Jason Smith was the number two overall pick in 2009. Prior to the 2009 draft a Washington scout told us "He's awesome". I guess awesome does not mean what we thought it meant. To be fair he had concussion issues, but it was more than that. he was drafted to be a left tackle but as a rookie the second-round pick, Rodger Saffold beat him out as the left tackle and after that he was always injured.

In 2012 the Rams got some salvage value by trading him to the Jets for Wayne Hunter. Smith played 29 games for the Rams and 16 for the Jets. Hunter played 14 games for the Rams with four starts.

With the number one overall pick, the Rams took Sam Bradford. He was All-Rookie and the Offensive Rookie of the Year and set some rookie passing records and took a 1-15 team to 7-9 and if a few passes that were dropped could have been caught the Rams would have won a weak division with an 8-8 record. Then, in 2001, the wheels came off. Bradford had a high ankle sprain and the team was again in the basement.

In 2012-13 (when he was hurt mid-season) Bradford, with little help on the offensive line, at running back and at receiver was 10-12-1, 487/813 (60%), 5389 yards for 35 TDs and 17 INTs for an 85.3 passer rating.

In fact, in his last 14 for the Rams, he was more effective than Kurt Warner and Jared Goff at one point though we have not updated the numbers.

But there was the season-ending knee injury in 2013 and another one in the preseason in 2014 and at that point, the Rams could not invest any more time. In 2015 they traded him to the Eagles for Nick Foles, a #2 pick and a #4 pick while giving back a #5 pick. There was also a conditional pick based on playing time that never came into play.

Les Snead valued Foles at a #2 pick so with the #4 and #5 almost canceling each other out in the draft value chart and the Eagles #2 pick the "residual value" for Bradford was a low #1 pick. That was confirmed a year later when the Eagles sent Bradford to the Vikings for a 1st rounder.

However, what the Rams did with what they got was different. Foles was not effective as a Ram. For whatever reason, he wasn't. And they used the Second-rounder as part of the package they sent to Tennessee for Jared Goff.

With the fourth they received from Philly they took ) Andrew Donnal. The Eagles traded the fifth-rounder away.

Robert Quinn (6-4, 265, 4.70) was the Rams pick in 2011 and he gave them seven years but like Chris Long he had a couple of injury issues (2015-16). when the Rams switched to a 3-4 defense in 2017 Quinn played fairly well as a WILL backer (and a DE in nickel) but he wasn't a long-term fit so they traded him and a 6th rounder in 2018 to Miami for Rams get Miami’s 2018 4th and 6th round picks.

With those picks, the Rams essentially netted Brian Allen & Obo Okoronkwo. It is more complicated than that—it's like the Carriker deal, but trust us. The "net-net" is Allen and Obo.

The RGIII deal. The Rams traded down twice and got picks in 2013 and 2014 and we'll cover it because draft capital is draft capital. And the RGIII deal is still paying the Rams dividends but it is not paying off like it could have. There was some really bad lick involved.

Okay, so. The Rams traded their pick to the Washington, then traded down again to the Cowboys. Then in the second round dealt down again.

So, the first-round pick was defensive tackle Michael Brockers who was a big man (6-5, 322, 5.18). From Washington, they got the extra second-rounder which they used to take Janoris Jenkins. The got a 2nd in the Dallas deal then parlayed that into a 2nd and a 5th which turned out to be Isaiah Pead and Rokevious Watkins.

Pead had talent, but was emotional, missed home and never worked out for the Rams. Neither did Watkins. Brockers and Jenkins did (both All-Rookie in 2012).  In 2014 he tore an ACL and came back to play a couple of games for the Rams in 2015 but was released soon after. he bounced from the Steelers to the Dolphins over the next year and he was finally released in October of 2016. Less than a month later Pead was invlioved in a one-car accident in which he lost control of his vehicle and suffered serious injuries including the loss of a leg.

Brockers has been a solid player for eight years and they nearly lost him to the Ravens (which would have netted a compensatory pick) but him failing a physical sent him back to the Rams. He's been a 'blue' run-stuffer nearly every year in the NFL.

Jenkins had a couple of top years but was a gambler type of corner. Like Marcus Peters is now. He left via free agency and the net compensation for him was a 3rd rounder (#100) which was sent to Tennessee for part of the Goff deal.

With the Rams own pick they took Tavon Austin but they had to pay to move up to get him (a #2 and a 7th and a swap of 3rds). Austin was All-Rookie but even so that 2nd rounder would have been useful to the Rams, the swap of 3rds and the loss of the 7th cannot have been a big deal but the Rams wanted a "weapon".

Austin had value but it was pretty high to take a gadget player. His best value was a returner but it seemed he had more long returns called back than actually stuck for long gainers.

The rams traded him to the Cowboys for a 2018 6th round pick (#192) which became guard Jamil Denby.

With the pick they got from Washington in the RGIII deal they traded down a couple of times and then got the man they wanted—Alec Ogletree (also All-Rookie). In those 'trade downs' they added a 3rd rounder (Stedman Bailey) and a 6th rounder. The Rams traded that 6th plus their own for a 5th and took running back Zac Stacy (Rams got 17 starts, 1355 yards 9 TDs).

And to complete that string in 2014 the Rams dealt him to the Jets for a 2015 7th rounder which they used for inside linebacker Bryce Hager who has given the Rams 4 solid years of special teams play and started the 2019 season as one of the regular inside linebackers before being felled by an injury.

As far as Bailey, that was another bout of bad luck. After developing into a decent slot receiver Bailey was suspended in the middle of the 2015 for violation of the NFL's substance-abuse policy and less than a month after the suspension Bailey suffered and survived two gunshot wounds to the head from a pair of unknown attackers who pulled alongside a car he was riding in and riddled the car with gunshots. Bailey's career was over.


Greg Robinson was the final first-rounder of the RGIII deal the Rams had to spend. Robinson was another left tackle bust, just five years after Jason Smith. Robinson was another 'awesome' prospect but just couldn't get it together.

The Rams gave him three years and dealt him to the Lions for their sixth-round selection (194th). The Rams then split that sixth into two sevenths one of which became edge linebacker Justin Lawler.

The other 6th was part of other trades (Brandin Cooks and Marcus Peters) that included ancillary picks to make the draft value chart work and then those were dealt and redealt that those resulted in three more linebackers—Micah Kiser, Trevon Young, and Traven Howard. Though really Young and Howard are more of the bounty than Kiser.

Robinson played for Detroit for a year and was still starting for Cleveland in 2019 but not playing well. We suppose he can still recharge and get it together but it would seem the odds are against it.

Also in 2014 the Rams, with their own pick, took freakish Aaron Donald (6-1, 285, 4.68). That selection speaks for itself.

Todd Gurley was the pick and he gave the Rams five years, helped then get to the Super Bowl and was just released after a subpar 2019 season and signed with the Falcons. Gurley was All-Rookie and later an All-Pro and NFL Offensive Player of the Year.

Jared Goff was the first pick of the new Los Angeles era and he was expensive in terms of draft capital. The Rams traded their first- (5th) and third-round (100th) selections in 2017, as well as their first-, two seconds-, and third-round selection in 2016 (15th, 43rd, 45th, and 76th) to Tennessee in exchange for Tennessee's first-, fourth-, and sixth-round selection in 2016 (1st, 113th, and 177th).

he had a so-so rookie year, and was dynamite in 2017 and though 3/4 of 2018 but started to regress some but did get Rams to the 2018 Super Bowl, but the regression continued through 2019.

Clearly, the Rams are counting on him to play liked he did in his first 27 games under McVay.

No first-round pick (went for Goff)

No first-round pick (went for Brandin Cooks)

Cooks helped the Rams for two seasons (2018 especially) and then was traded to the Saints for a 2020 second-round pick that the Rams used to select Florida wide receiver Van Jefferson. So, the use of the 2018 first-rounder goes on as long as Jefferson is on the roster.


No first-round pick (went to Falcons in trade-down).

However, the Rams then traded down again, getting more picks from the Patriots and even more from the Chiefs. Later, the Rams at Patriots did two more swaps one swapping thirds (Rams moving up) for the prices of dropping from the 4th to the 5th. And then the Patriots taking two 5th rounders for a 4th and a 7th which is typical draft value chart stuff.

So, in this case, the "net-net" for the Rams 1st round is a #2 pick, two #3 picks a 4th and a 7th which turned out to be Taylor Rapp, David Long, Bobby Evans, Greg Gaines, and Nick Scott.

No first-round pick (Went for Jalen Ramsey)

No first-round pick (Will go for Jalen Ramsey)

Scheduled for a First-round pick

So, all told, the early picks the Rams got some productions for their top picks and even got some residual value when things did not work out. But starting in 2000 things went South fast.

Their 2000 pick, Trung Canidate, brought a 4th round pick.

Their 2001 picks, all varying levels of disappointments all left via free agency.

Robert Thomas brought a backup cornerback. Jimmy Kennedy brought a 6th round pick. Alex Barron brought Bobby Carpenter who never played for the Rams. For Ty Hill, the Rams received a 7th round pick. Adam Carriker yielded a 7th rounder.

Jason Smith brought Wayne Hunter. Sam Bradford was the exception, bringing in essentially two #2s (net value a late 1st rounder).

Robert Quinn brought a net 4th round pick. Alec Ogletree also was worth a net 4th rounder. Tavon Austin brought a 6th round selection as did Greg Robinson. Todd Gurley was cut.

On the positive side of the balance sheet, they have sure-fire Hall of Famer Aaron Donald. They have a franchise quarterback with upside in Jared Goff. They still have a solid five-technique in Michael Brockers.

They got a lot of mileage out of Steven Jackson, Torry Holt, and a HOF career from Orlando Pace.

Overall, however, there are more minuses than pluses, so they do have the 1999 Super Bowl win and the 2001 super Bowl loss, but it has been a struggling franchise in most of the years since with the exceptions of 2017-19 and perhaps 2003-04.


  1. To this day, I wish the Cowboys and Parcells had taken Jackson at RB over Julio Jones ...

    Its hard to believe this Rams team with its talent couldnt win for Martz but he didnt believe in protecting his QB, which is why Warner and Bulger suffered.

    Some good players but lots of busts as well. The defence played well under Fischer but his offences were pretty bad.

  2. On Greg Robinson, I don't think he'll be playing anywhere but prison anytime soon

  3. just an aside on Grant Wistrom..he had TWO pick sixes in 1999 for 131 yds(40 and 91 yds)