It's time for a history lesson. With the Rams starting a promising new era, I thought it be would be a good time to look back at the high point of the last era, the 1999 Rams. More specifically, as the draft talk really starts to heat up now, I thought it was worth reviewing just what role the draft played in assembling that 1999 team. Just how important was the draft in assembling that lineup?
Six offensive starters that season were drafted by the Rams in the years prior; four of those players came in the first or second round. On defense, five players were drafted by the Rams, four of those players in the first or second rounds of the draft. Broken down year-by-year, those 11 players are:
|WR Isaac Bruce||2nd round, 33rd pick|
|FS Keith Lyle||3rd round, 71st pick|
|LDE Kevin Carter||1st round, 6th pick|
|RT Fred Miller||5th round, 141st pick|
|LT Orlando Pace||1st round, 1st pick|
|CB Dexter McCleon||2nd round, 40th pick|
|DE Grant Wistrom||1st round, 6th pick|
|FB Robert Holcombe||2nd round, 37th pick|
|PR Az-Zahir Hakim||4th round, 96th pick|
|TE Roland Williams||4th round, 98th pick|
|WR Torry Holt||1st round, 6th pick|
One name not on that list is Todd Lyght, drafted in the first round in 1991. There are also players on the roster in 1999 who were important players in the Rams run to a title, including Dre' Bly (2nd round, 1999) and Leonard Little (3rd round, 1998) who were not starters that year. Those guys did, however, go on to become key starters in the Rams continued success, including the 2001 Super Bowl. There's also the role of players not acquired through the draft, guys like Marshall Faulk and Kurt Warner, who obviously had their name on the marquee, but the point I'm trying to make here is just how important the draft was in building that powerhouse team. You'll notice especially how many starters came from the 1998 draft, with key building blocks coming in 1997 and 1999 as well.
Going back to the 2005 draft, the Rams have a solid group of players they're counting on to be part of the team's foundation for years to come, guys like CB Ron Bartell, FS OJ Atogwe, DT Adam Carriker, DE Chris Long, and WR Donnie Avery. OL John Greco is expected to emerge as a starter this year, giving the team three starters from the 2008 draft, certifying its success. In the upcoming draft, the Rams need to find players to finish the foundation. The second overall pick from this season must be a face of the team for years to come. Fortunately, there seem to be several players that could fit that bill, but whether Curry, Crabtree, Jason Smith, or Eugene Monroe make the best fit remains to be seen.