Alex Barron does not represent a draft bust in the truest sense of draft busts. He was, after all, a serviceable player, as opposes to one who just completely flames out in the most spectacular sense of failure, not like a Vernon Gholston or Lawrence Phillips (hint, hint). What Alex Barron and his time with the St. Louis Rams offers is another important lesson, a cautionary tale of pushing the expiration date of a product, just because that product once commanded top dollar.
Barron was the Rams first-round pick in 2005, a highly touted prospect out of Florida State, tapped as the future replacement for the great Orlando Pace. Except he wasn't. Despite starting 11 games in his rookie season, Barron was not adequate enough to step in for Pace when the future Hall of Famer missed half a season in 2006. Barron did finally get a shot on the left side in 2007, when Pace missed the entire season after a week 1 injury.
The results were hardly acceptable from a player drafted in the first round. But the Rams hung on to him, giving him another chance in 2008 and 2009, while grooming another rookie tackle in Barron's final year.
It wasn't that Barron was a particularly bad blocker. He wasn't great, but could have gotten by if it weren't for his penalty proclivity. During his five years with the Rams, Barron was the second most penalized player in the league. It seemed like most of those calls came at the most inopportune time as well, a critical third down or inside the red zone. His presence, his mere presence, helped provide the Rams with new and exciting ways to lose games.
Yet the Rams stood by him...for four years, technically five, but the writing was on the wall in 2009. Had the Rams just conceded the loss and found a replacement sooner than 2009, the franchise might not have decayed to the point it had. But Barron wasn't the reason for the Rams decay, just a symbol of it.
And now he's just another lesson learned.
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