With the seconnd pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, the St. Louis Rams selected offensive tackle Jason Smith. What a difference three years makes. Smith was touted as a franchise left tackle, one of those players who would be a blind side protector for years.
Three disappointing, injury-filled years later, Jason Smith is most likely on his last chance with the Rams. Smith hasn't complete season since being drafted; he played 15 games in 2010. He lost his starting left tackle position to a rookie, Rodger Saffold, in 2010, and concussions have kept him sidelined in two of his three seasons. The worst part of the Jason Smith project is the fact that he hasn't been a good player, period.
After the jump let's take a look at Jason Smith and talk about his future with the team.
Jason Smith has been scrutinized since he was drafted and rightfully so. He was tabbed to be a franchise left tackle, not an below average right tackle.
According to Ross Miles at Pro Football Focus, Jason Smith graded out with an -6.2 overall grade in 2011. Smith also graded out with a -3.2 pass blocking, +0.5 screen blocking, -1.5 run blocking. He allowed 11 pressures and two QB hits and two sacks. It was good enough to rank him the second-best offensive lineman for the Rams. Granted, he played 78.1% of the plays and the offensive line as a whole was pitiful. There is still hope.
This is what Ross Miles had to say about Jason Smith.
His problems have been with injuries and penalties, and that has stopped a raw prospect finding his potential, but I'd very much like to see him get a chance with a coaching staff assembled by Jeff Fisher. It may be too late to salvage him as a starter, but we need to break the tradition of recent years in abandoning our draft picks (admittedly many have been terrible) and filling the roster with a coach's old favourites. We are clearly rebuilding and we can't turnover the entire roster in one off-season. I'd make Jason Smith one of the keepers, as long as he is willing to renegotiate his contract to be more in line with his level of play.
I agree with what Miles had to say about Smith. I don't think that Smith has reached the "bust" label yet. Has he underachieved? Yes, but how much of that was due to injuries and change of offenses?
When you think about it, it seems unlikely that the Rams would cut Smith. Why cut him? He could be replaced by a rookie, but you have to think that a veteran would have a better chance to start than a rookie.
Also with Fisher bringing his running philosophy to the Rams, he is a good fit. The question is, will that be at offensive tackle or offensive guard?
So before you give up on Jason Smith, just think he wasn't the worst blocker on the team last year, and as bad as the line was it will most likely get better this year.
Rams O-line graded as follows
Harvey Dahl +3.2 (1091 snaps)
Jason Smith -6.2 (331)
Adam Goldberg -7.8 (637)
Mark LeVoir -8.0 (157)
Bryan Mattison -10.4 (267)
Tony Wragge -10.8 (574)
Rodger Saffold -15.2 (618)
Jacob Bell -15.8 (740)
Jason Brown - 16.7 (965)
(writer's note) If you're wondering why this is called part 2, it's because Ryan wrote about Smith a couple of months ago, and I got the same title. It was an accident, but after reading his article, it seemed like this would be a good compliment to that piece, so thats why.