It seems like just yesterday Rams fans were forced to cheer for perennially garbage teams almost on par with the Browns. But that’s no longer their reality as a young team who made it to the playoffs this past season while leading the league in offense. Most of their key players have come through excellent drafts by their front office. But picks like the one I chose are part of the reason it took so long to get where they are now.
I went with Jason Smith, the offensive tackle out of Baylor University that the Rams took with the 2nd overall pick in 2009. Smith absolutely dominated the NFL combine which caused his draft stock to sky rocket. He signed a 6 year, $61 million dollar contract, this was before rookie contracts were scaled back substantially.
During his rookie year Smith started at right tackle until he suffered a concussion in late November that caused him to miss the remainder of the season. During the off season he lost his job to rookie Rodger Saffold and was relegated to being a back up and spot starter for the remainder of his Rams career. In 2012 he was traded to the Jets where he played for one season and was then released. He was then signed and released by the Saints before being signed and released by the Jets a second time, all during the 2013 season. This would mark the end of his career. This is a number 2 overall pick we’re talking about, he couldn’t even find a job as a backup.
To make matters even worse, since Smith never panned out as a franchise tackle the Rams had to address the position again and selected yet another bust 2nd overall in Greg Robinson. Drafted in 2014, Robinson played for the Lions in 2017. Not exactly what you want out of a 2nd overall pick.
So in 2009 the Rams missed out on players like B.J. Raji, Brian Orakpo, Malcolm Jenkins, Brian Cushing, Alex Mack, Eric Wood, and Clay Matthews. While also missing out on the likes of Odell Beckham Jr, Taylor Lewan, Zack Martin, Khalil Mack, Mike Evans, and Anthony Barr in 2014 when they were readdressing their problems at tackle.
Missing on the same position twice in the first round during a short period of time is bad enough, but to do it at 2nd overall both times is almost impossible. Fortunately for Rams faithful new coach Sean McVay seems to have really turned things around in LA, but there’s no doubt that they’d like to have those picks back. Jared Goff and OBJ would be almost unstoppable in McVay’s offensive scheme.