Keying off Tuesday's post about Chris Givens, I thought it was worth a quick look back at the St. Louis Rams 2012 draft class. Have they dropped off? Are they improving? More generally, how are they playing this year compared to last?
R1. Michael Brockers, DT
Brockers missed the first four games of his rookie year thanks to an ankle sprain suffered in the throwaway fourth preseason game. Even when he returned, he was still limited by that ankle for a few weeks, but as the season went on, we saw the mauler in the middle we expected.
2012: four sacks, four hits, nine hurries, 20 tackles, 21 stops
2013: 5.5 sacks, four hits, six hurries, 29 tackles, 26 stops
His overall pass rush productivity (Pro Football Focus' ratio of sacks/hits/hurries against total pass rush snaps) is basically the same, 4.5 percent this year versus 4.7 percent last year. As a run defender, his stop percentage (tackles that constitute a loss for the offense) has climbed from 5.9 percent to 7.6 percent.
The improvement is there. The only question with Brockers is just how far he go.
R2. Brian Quick, WR
2012: 13.4 snaps per game, 1.9 targets per game, 40.7 percent catch rate, two dropped passes
2013: 22.5 snaps per game, 2.5 targets per game, 53.3 percent catch rate, six dropped passes
Quick's playing time and role in the offense has definitely increased, but it's still a long way from the No. 1 receiver status the Rams billed him with following the draft. This pick could have been Alshon Jeffery.
R2. Janoris Jenkins, CB
The interceptions aren't there, and we knew that was a possibility. Interceptions, turnovers in general, rely a little on luck. But what about coverage?
2012: 61.7 percent opposing completion rate, five touchdowns, 81.3 opposing passer rating, 18 missed tackles
2013: 65.7 percent opposing completion rate, six touchdowns, 116.5 opposing passer rating, 10 missed tackles
Coverage stats are tricky because they require some level of subjective analysis. Part of what's driving up his opposing passer rating is fewer interceptions, but there is a higher completion rate and more touchdowns against. And then there's the little matter of the soft zone crap, which hasn't been as prominent over the last month.
Jenkins' story is the story of the secondary: it's not what it was last season. Worse, there's no real progress from one of the team's most talented defenders, a guy who should be emerging a blue chip corner.
R2. Isaiah Pead, RB
At least he's getting time on special teams now.
R3. Trumaine Johnson, CB
Johnson's been the best, or at least the most consistent, corner on the team this season since taking over the starting role from Cortland Finnegan.
In coverage, opposing passers are completing just 52.4 percent of their throws against him, and have a rating of just 72.3.
R4. Chris Givens, WR
We covered Givens yesterday. He's still the top receiver on the team in terms of playing time and targets. But maybe riding the pine for a week or two would help get his head back in the game as far as the dropped passes go.
R5. Rok Watkins
That was short-lived.
R6. Greg Zuerlein, K
The Rams front office has a hype problem. Last year, all we heard about was Greg the Leg kicking 50-yarders and pushing for the record. And he had some pretty amazing kicks early in the year. Then the wheels came off. He got tired was the company line. Greg the Leg finished the season with a 74.2 percent success rate on field goal attempts. He was 7-for-13 on attempts of 50 yards or more.
This year, the Leg's got a solid 90.5 percent connection rate on field goals. But he's 1-0 on attempts of 50 yards or more. The most surprising thing about that is that he's just attempted one FG of 50 yards or more, and the Rams have played just two games at outdoor venues.
The ineffectiveness of the offense is partly to blame. Early in the year, the Rams were facing such huge deficits, that there was no need for three-point shots. Over their winning streak, the defense and offense were proficient enough at scoring, they didn't need field goals.
We'll see more from Greg the Leg as the team improves.
R7. Aaron Brown, LB
R7. Daryl Richardson, RB
Has there been a faster slide into irrelevancy than Richardson's? The Rams had high hopes for him after what he did last year, and they gave him the playing time you would have expected to start the season. The results just never materialized. Obviously, his play isn't where it was, which begs the question for Fisher's staff: What happened?
Of the four defensive players drafted in 2012, two of them -- Brockers and Johnson -- have taken a big step forward this year. Jenkins has not, and that's a disappointment considering how badly the Rams need better play in the secondary.
The offensive players picked that year aren't contributing much. Givens and Richardson had promising rookie seasons melt into sophomore slumps, and "slump" is a generous way of describing what's happened to DRich. It'll be a surprise if Pead's even on the roster next season. The lack of results the Rams are getting from the five offensive players taken in the 2012 draft, of the four left on the roster, figure into the team's overall offensive struggles this season.