For a long time, the St. Louis Rams 2006 draft held an indisputable claim to the dubious honor of the team's worst draft. Things are no longer that clear cut with the yesterday's trade of Adam Carriker. One thing is for sure, both drafts cost the Rams considerably, setting them back years and stand as a major contributing factor in their recent run of 3, 2 and 1-win seasons. So which draft was the worst? They both stink and offer a big clue as to why the Rams defense has been so putrid.
R1, CB Tye Hill - Hill had a promising start to his career, starting 10 games and picking off three passes as a rookie. Then he got injured and was never the same. In fact, as the years went on he became a liability in the backfield. He was traded last fall to the Falcons in exchange for a 7th round pick in this year's draft.
R2, TE Joe Klopfenstein - Yikes. The ultimate TE bust, he never excelled as a blocker and never materialized as the receiving threat the team had envisioned.
R3, DT Claude Wroten - A meathead of the first order. Released.
R3, LB Jon Alston - His athletic abilities wowed us all, but his on field abilities left a little to be desired. Released.
R3, TE Dominique Byrd - Another reason the Rams started putting so much emphasis on character in recent drafts. Released.
R4, DE Victor Adeyanju - The only player from the '06 draft still with the Rams. He's a solid role player who plays the run well.
R5, WR Marques Hagans - Released, bounced around to a few teams' practice squads. Is now with Washington.
R7, LB Tim McGarigle - Saw some time on special teams in 2007, released the next year.
R7, OL Mark Setterstrom - Setts has been an oft-injured, but important contributor for the Rams offensive line. He impressed in starting duty during his rookie season, and the team has brought him back for another season in March.
R7, OG Tony Palmer - Was cut before the 2006 started.
R1, DT Adam Carriker - Had a decent rookie season. Injuries had a lot to do with his demise in St. Louis, but it's worth remembering that Gary Gibson leaped ahead on the depth chart last year. Traded to Washington yesterday for a swap of 5th round picks.
R2, RB Brian Leonard - Linehan outsmarted himself on this pick. Leonard wasn't adequate as a RB and too small to be a FB. Traded to Cincy last year for DT Orien Harris who didn't stick with the Rams last year either.
R3, CB Jonathan Wade - Showed some potential, but ultimately didn't fit with Spagnuolo's press corners in his man coverage system. Released and signed with the Lions.
R5, C Dustin Fry - Never got it together, and was released from the practice squad in 2008.
R5, DT Clifton Ryan - The gem of the 2007 draft for the Rams and a reminder that defensive line talent is available beyond the first round. Was recently tendered as an RFA at the second round level. He's a solid starter.
R6, OT Ken Shackleford - Released by the Rams and picked up by the Chiefs in 2008.
R7, DT Keith Jackson - The son of a former Pro Bowl TE, Jackson was cut from the practice squad during the '07 season.
R7, WR Derek Stanley - Stanley has his moments, most notably as a useful, if unimpressive, return man. He was released last year for Danny Amendola who has been a much better return man and flashed some talent out of the slot.
So which draft is worse? I'd say now the 2007 draft is the bigger bust. The Rams at least still have two players from the 2006 draft on the roster in contributing roles.
If you want to know why the Rams defense has struggled so mightily in recent season, look no further than these two drafts. Tye Hill, Carriker, Alston, Wroten, Wade...all of these guys would have ideally been starters for the Rams, or at least key role players. Instead, only one player from those two drafts has a starting role on the Rams defense, Clifton Ryan.
By comparison, the 2008 and 2009 drafts look much better than the two prior. If this draft goes well for the Rams they'll be well on their way back to respectability. If not, it could be more of the same.