Among the more disappointing first-round picks in the history history of the St. Louis Rams, the case of Jason Smith is an especially frustrating one. Drafted with the second pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, Smith was supposed to be the replacement for Alex Barron, a first-round pick who was supposed to be the replacement for Orlando Pace.
A few dozen sacks later, the Rams still need an offensive tackle. Does new head coach Jeff Fisher think Smith still might have a future with the team?
Fisher and Les Snead, the Rams' new general manager, offered some vagueness about Smith's future with the team, according to a Sunday report in the Post-Dispatch.
"I haven't actually had a chance to speak to the medical staff specifically about his condition," Fisher said. "But there's no doubt in my mind that he'll return and be able to play."
Fisher is merely noting Smith health. Snead was a little more positive.
"We're looking forward to putting him in the program and developing him," Snead said.
Could the new administration do what the last one could not, turn Jason Smith into an everyday player in the NFL? The possibility exists, however unlikely it is. Smith's struggles with consistency are well documented.
Mark me down as skeptical. New regimes say nice things about the players they inherit; it is the honorable thing to do. By their own admission, the new staff is early in the process of evaluating their current roster. Smith's case will take more than a cursory glance at some game tape.
There is a case for keeping Smith, at least for this season, from the standpoint of having depth at tackle. That will not happen unless Smith agrees to pay cut. If he does not, the Rams will almost certainly put him in the street.
The Rams held on to Alex Barron far longer than they should have. Trying season after season to extract the potential from first-round picks is the hallmark of sick franchises. Hopefully for Smith, he can catch on with another team, and benefit from a fresh start. The Rams are starting a new beginning this year.