The 2008 NFL Draft is one of those where you just have to sit back and shake your head when pondering. As I reviewed the players selected and researched their fellow draftees, I couldn't help but wonder what the St. Louis Rams organization was thinking. Only one out of the eight players drafted that day just four seasons ago still plays for the club. Rounds two through seven would result in career backups, injury prone busts, and just all around poor picks. Of course, hindsight is 20/20, but I tell you, the organization must have been wearing coke bottles during this draft.
The 2008 NFL Draft started out very nicely for the St. Louis Rams. In hindsight, round one of the draft was one of the better rounds of the decade for St. Louis. The Rams, under the direction of Billy Devaney and company, drafted Chris Long, Defensive End, University of Virginia with the second pick. The son of Hall of Fame inductee Howie Long had enormous shoes to fill coming out of college. Fast forward 4 years later with Chris going into his 5th season, and Long is one of the best pass rushers in the league; a defensive end who seems to always be around the ball, and has a nose for sniffing out the intent of opposing offenses. A redraft at this pick is not really necessary in my humble opinion, as the Rams spent the pick very well in hindsight.
Some other options that may have been available at this spot in the 2008 draft were:
Matt Ryan QB, Atlanta Falcons
Glen Dorsey DT, Kansas City Chiefs
Darren McFadden RB, Oakland Raiders.
The bold move here however would have been to trade up to the #1 spot and select Jake Long, Offensive Tackle, Miami Dolphins. Jake has had just as much success on the offensive side of the ball as Chris, and from where I sit, would have been the only way to go at that junction.
Round 2 Pick #33 Donnie Avery, Wide Receiver, Houston
Donnie Avery was supposed to be the answer to the prayers of Rams fans across the globe. The receiving situation in St. Louis was dire, and Avery was the speedy, sexy pick. Hit the scene selection button to the end of his rookie campaign, and Avery had a disappointing 674 yards receiving with just three touchdowns to his credit. The player was plagued with injury issues, mainly knee problems. Now Donnie is on a "prove it" contract with the Indianapolis Colts.
Who would we pick in hindsight? If we stick with the need at receiver there are some clear choices here:
Jordy Nelson WR, Green Bay Packers
DeSean Jackson WR, Philadelphia Eagles
Anyone of the two above WRs would have been a better pick for the Rams. Each has established himself as a sure threat, and have produced at near #1 WR levels.
Round 3 Pick #65 John Greco, Tackle, Toledo
John Greco's third round status echos the length of his career with the St. Louis Rams. He was let go after not really catching on as a starter with the team. In his three years in the Lou, he only started 4 games and only played in 26, with no starts in 2010. Last season he never started for the Cleveland Browns.
Who else could we have had here?:
Kendall Langford DE, St. Louis Rams (Drafted by Dolphins)
Steve Slaton RB, Houston Texans
Jermichael Finley WR, Green Bay Packers
Again, all have established value at their given position, and would have filled voids on the Rams roster. Slaton would have given Jackson a very capable backup, while Kendall Langford would have been a perennial starter at defensive tackle. The Rams would have been better off picking up Jermichael Finley here. The Rams have been trying to find THE tight end for many years now, and with Finley, the position would have been solidified.
Round 4 Pick #101 Justin King, Corner, Penn State
Justin King has had his fans and had his detractors. The bottom line with King is that he only had one interception and one forced fumble during his three year career with the Rams. Corner backs are not payed to watch opposing receivers catch the ball, however he did improve as he went along in tackles, and his lone sack came in 2011. The Rams were very injured in 2011, and the secondary provided a bright spot statistically even with a constant rotation of players who were nursing one ailment or another. King is now with the Indianapolis Colts, who after drafting Andrew Luck are in rebuilding mode. King will play out the prime of his career on a mediocre team, much like his career began.
Who else was available?:
Tyvon Branch CB, Oakland Raiders
Cliff Avril DE, Detroit Lions
Sticking with defense here, the Rams could have picked up a better product in Branch or a solid end in Avril. I advocated for the Rams to try and go after Avril this off season, and I stick by the pick here. He is a big guy who can seal the edge or play inside with ease.
Round 4 Pick # 128 Keenan Burton, Wide Receiver, Kentucky
Keenan Burton, a study in mediocrity, caught 38 balls for 425 yards and 1 touchdown in 2 years with the Rams. The 6'0" tall, 202 lbs wide-out from Kentucky was disappointing to say the least.
Other options around #128:
Jacob Tamme TE, Denver Broncos
Tim Hightower RB, Washington Redskins
In my mind, there can be no better compliment for a player than for Peyton Manning to lobby his new team to pick up a player he likes. Tamme is in Denver due to Manning's insistence, and again, the tight end position would be solid. Paired with Finley as bookends in Pat Shurmur's offense, the Rams would have been good to go for a decade.
Round 5 Pick #157 Roy Schuening, Guard, Oregon State
Roy Schuening? Who is Roy Schuening you ask? A guy that played 1 game for the Rams, that's who. Another wasted pick here, as there was actual talent all over the board still to be had.
Who was there?:
Carl Nicks G, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Josh Morgan WR, Washington Redskins
Josh Morgan anyone? Remember Keenan Burton? Yeah, this guy has caught for three times as many yards and 8 more touchdowns. Solid backup WR numbers. My pick here is obviously Carl Nicks however. The man pancaked opposing defenses for none other than Drew Brees and was offered more money than Jesus to play for the Bucs this off season. When is the last time the Rams had an OG like that?
Round 7 Pick #228 Chris Chamberlain, Linebacker, Tulsa
Having only 123 tackles in 4 years does not a starter make. But of course, 7th rounders aren't supposed to start right? Chamberlain developed into a serviceable backup. However he is playing for another team this year, with the New Orleans Saints. At this point in the draft and using our Dr. Who time machine, I would stick by this pick. The man played decently for the Rams for 4 years, and was good enough to start 13 games last year. Of course, with linebacker not being a Ram strong suite, becoming a starter on this team wouldn't have been that hard.
Round 7 Pick #252 David Vobora, Linebacker, Idaho
Mr. Irrelevant for the 2008 NFL Draft was Mr, Vobora. Again, Vobora was a serviceable backup who played decently when pressed into service. Good enough to stick around for 3 years, David did well enough to have almost a cult following within Rams nation. I for one was glad to see him go, but would have picked him again if I could. He was a good fit for a team searching for its identity, and played with a scrapping mentality that can't be taught. But, again, Mr. Irrelevant is playing for another team, which has been the theme of this draft for the Rams.
Thanks for the read, and I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments. Go Rams!