The St. Louis Rams selected Penn State DT Jimmy Kennedy with their first-round pick in 2003, the 12th pick overall. Two years prior to picking Kennedy, the Rams had selected DT Damione Lewis with their first round pick as well as Ryan Pickett. Kennedy was the pick to make up for those players not working...whoops.
The Rams defensive line was actually serviceable in Kennedy's rookie year, when he didn't start any games. The next season, 2004, the team had a run defense DVOA of 6.6 percent, 25th worst in the league, a trend that would more or less continue until 2010, in large part because of a long series of poor defensive line picks that included Kennedy.
Drafting poorly with high picks devastates a team, as we know all too well. Teams really suffer by hanging on to those picks long after it becomes clear they need to part ways.
Kennedy stayed with the Rams from his rookie season in 2003 through 2006, starting 5 games in 2004, 9 games in 2005 and all 16 games in 2006. The Rams run defense got worse each year. Finally, the Rams traded him to the Denver Broncos for a sixth-round pick in June 2007; the Broncos cut him before the season started. The Rams drafted Adam Carriker, the last in their string of failed defensive line picks, to replace Kennedy.
The defensive line finally recovered last year, thanks to the addition of 33-year-old Fred Robbins and a free agent afterthought Gary Gibson. We're not out the woods yet. The Rams need to add talent on the defensive line this offseason.
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