Yesterday, Mel Kiper confused the St. Louis Rams 4-3 defense with a 3-4 defense. Today, a regional sports reporter makes his picks for the Rams' best and worst draft picks over the last five years. Matt Maiocco's pick for the Rams worst draft pick in the last five years might indicate that he clearly hasn't been paying much attention to the Rams during that span...not that anyone can blame him for overlooking them during that time.
And his worst draft pick was: Jason Smith, OT, Baylor, who the Rams selected with the second overall pick of the 2009 NFL Draft. Wha? Huh?
I know the Jason Smith didn't excite many Rams fans, but it's pretty difficult to call it the worst pick from a time period encompassing the notoriously bad 2006 and 2007 draft classes. Of those two draft classes, totaling 18 players, only one player, DT Clifton Ryan, saw any snaps with the team in 2010. Ryan only played in one game before ending up on IR. The Rams effectively cut him lose by not opting to tender a restricted free agent offer, just in case the league goes back to the six-year rules for free agency.
Of the two first round picks in those two draft classes, DT Adam Carriker and CB Tye Hill, it's hard to say which one was the worst pick. Tye Hill had a decent rookie season before injuries seemed to ruin his career. Carriker never clicked in the wayward Rams defense of those years.
Back to Smith. Smith lost the majority of his rookie season because of a string of injuries, the most serious of which was a concussion that ended his season completely. Before he went down, he was showing improvement at right tackle. Last season Smith started 15 games at right tackle, at times flashing the talent that made him worthy of such a high draft selection.
What will separate Smith from the ranks of being an adequate starter to a cornerstone player will be consistency. Given his age and the time he missed as a rookie as well as what he has shown in one season and change as a starter, it's reasonable to expect Smith to take it to the next level this year.
Some people consider Smith a disappointment because he plays right tackle rather than left. That's an hard sell for me. Rodger Saffold, a second-round pick, took over the left side at a much cheaper rate than Smith. Both players, ideally, should be interchangeable at each position, for the most part, so in terms of total value tied up in their offensive tackles, the Rams have about what you'd expect...it's just distributed differently than is typical.
This is a big year for Smith to be sure, but he already has shown enough not to be considered the worst draft pick of the last five years.