With the 2011 NFL draft just days away, and the excitement building over the Rams’ 14th pick, let’s take a look back in history and see how the team’s personnel department and players have graded out since 2008.
The chart below lists all players drafted, by year, and the production and accolades they have achieved to date. All players receive a color grade, while the organization is assigned an overall letter grade for each draft class.
BLUE – Blue players are difference-makers in every game. Playoff teams need at least 10 or more on the roster.
RED – Starters/heavy contributors with whom you can win right away, these players have Blue traits with ascending skill sets.
ORANGE – Backup/special teams performers, these players struggle to match up with high Red players and have limited ability to ascend.
GREEN – Most of the individuals here fall into the free-agent category, tend to get hurt and lack the skill set to ascend to Orange.
2010 Draft Class: A
Sam Bradford – Offensive Rookie of the Year with great production; Blue
Rodger Saffold – 16-game starter played at a high level; Blue
Jerome Murphy – Heavy contributor at corner and inside nickel; core special teams player; Red
Mardy Gilyard – Backup/special teams; struggled to get on the field; slow learner with injury issues; Orange
Michael Hoomanawanui – Starter and heavy contributor, injuries slowed development; Red
Hall Davis – Struggled to learn and process information; CUT
Fendi Onobun – Deactivated most of 2010; ended season on injured reserve with back injury. Former basketball player with upside, but raw and needs development; Orange
Eugene Sims – Good size and natural pass-rush skills; possible Sam linebacker in 2011. The “rookie wall” beat him up mentally; Orange
Marquis Johnson – Good athletic skill-set, look for this player to ascend in 2011. Was injured while on practice squad last season; Orange
George Selvie – Flashed edge play with pass-rush skills. Still developing and ascended toward end of season after hitting rookie wall; Orange
Josh Hull – Bright spot at linebacker, versatile player to play outside and middle linebacker positions. Went on injured reserve after first game of the season; has high ceiling; Orange
2009 Draft Class: B
Jason Smith – Starter at right tackle, starting to come into his own as a complete tackle. Fought through injuries early. Starter and heavy contributor; Red
James Laurinaitis – Player with first-round talent fell into Rams lap, and no-brainer pick. Bell cow of the defense; Blue
Bradley Fletcher – Starter and heavy contributor. He ended rookie season on injured reserve with major knee injury. Bounced back in 2010 as starter and didn’t miss a beat. Best corner on Rams’ current roster. Blue
Darell Scott – Large body player with talent; struggles with weight and injury issues despite flashing upside; Orange
Brooks Foster – Adequate skill-set for the position. Placed on injured reserve for rookie season; CUT in 2010 training camp
Keith Null – Backup with great production coming out of West Texas. Struggled when given the opportunity – CUT in 2010, ended season with Carolina Panthers
Chris Ogbonnaya – Backup running back, lacks production despite skill-set; CUT in 2010, was on Houston Texans’ practice squad; Orange
2008 Draft Class: C-plus
Chris Long – Slow start, but finished strong in 2010 season after moving from the right side to left defensive end. Motor runs fast with relentless effort; Red
Donnie Avery – Knee and hip injuries have slowed career. Bright future if he can stay healthy; Red
John Greco – Lacks the passion for the game. Had plenty of opportunities to solidify starting position; Orange
Justin King – Struggled with injuries as a rookie and throughout career spending time on injured reserve and in the training room; player that can’t stay healthy; Orange
Keenan Burton – Flashed skill set to develop with great work ethic. Bad knees forced this player off the roster after two seasons; Orange
Roy Schuening – Player with size, strength and explosion that lacked the passion for the game; CUT
Chris Chamberlain – Backup/special teams player fills starting role in an emergency; Orange
David Vobora – Backup/special teams player, fills starting role in an emergency; Orange
While there are several bright spots and productive players, the Rams’ last three drafts have not produced any All-Pro players or Pro Bowlers. Several players have developed into starters and key contributors, though, so it will be interesting to track these players with a color grade of Blue and Red the next several seasons.
With an extremely tough 2011 schedule ahead, it is imperative that the Rams continue down the same path and have a great draft that produces starters and contributors, as they did in 2010. That way, this team can take the next step toward building a championship foundation and winning the division.