Making comparisons is every fans - and experts -way of placing value on the level of expected production from an NFL rookie. It’s relatively easy to do, and it’s certainly entertaining. Getting it right is the hard part. Have a look at some of the player comparisons made for St. Louis Rams’ rookies over the past eight seasons…
2008 Rookie: [DE] Chris Long
Comparison: Aaron Kampman
From: NFL.com Combine Profile
Like Kampman, Long is not the fastest, nor is he the strongest defensive end you will find. He lacks the blazing speed you look for in an edge rusher and will struggle to shed blocks at times, but like the Packers standout, he has great field savvy, vision and determination. He knows when he needs to avoid blockers rather than try to overpower them, as he really doesn't have that blow-up strength (good, not great) to dominate, anyway. What he does is take good angles in pursuit and display excellent lateral range working down the line. In a scheme that will let him press the outside shoulder of an offensive tackle, he will have good success. With his pad level and in-line instincts, he could also earn quality minutes as a defensive tackle in a 4-3 alignment, but is more ideally suited to play defensive end in a 3-4 formation
2008 Rookie: [WR] Donnie Avery
Comparison: Devery Henderson
From: Scout Inc.’s Draft Profile
...is quite possibly the fastest player in the 2008 class. While there's no doubt of his homerun-hitting potential for the next level, Avery remains too one-dimensional, with really just the ability to run go routes to threaten a defense. He is somewhat reminiscent of New Orleans and former LSU burner Devery Henderson, who has not transitioned to the NFL very well.
2009 Rookie: [LT] Jason Smith
Comparison: Walter Jones
From: Anonymous [upon request, no doubt] NFC GM
He is really one of those 10-year left tackle type guys. He is really in my eyes a No. 1 guy. You'd love to have a guy like that. He's a Walter Jones left tackle who could play forever. He's got it all with the size and athletic ability. He's clean.
A three-time AP All-American, Laurinaitis is the most recognized player in the 2009 draft. Blessed with a rare combination of size and athleticism -- drawing comparison to Bears Pro Bowl MLB Brian Urlacher -- Laurinaitis burst onto the scene as a sophomore, earning the 2006 Bronko Nagurski Award (top defensive player). He won the Butkus Award as the nation's top linebacker and again in the Lott Trophy in '08 as the nation's best all-around defensive player
Comparison: Eli Manning
From: Walter Football
Like Eli, Bradford lacks the elite arm, but he is a superb decision-maker with great accuracy and decision-making. Both have limited upside
From: ESPN Analyst, Trent Dilfer
I think he has major, major challenges ahead of him. Sam Bradford is not Mark Sanchez. He is not Matthew Stafford. He is not Matt Ryan. I would say he’s not even Joe Flacco.
2010 Rookie: [WR] Mardy Gilyard
Comparison: Joshua Cribbs
From: Turf Show Times’ Author, Tevin Broner
I wouldn't compare him to DeSean Jackson or Percy Harvin I would compare him to a receiving Joshua Cribbs.
2011 Rookie: [DE] Robert Quinn
Comparison: DeMarcus Ware
From: NFL Draft Expert, Mike Mayock
Mayock sees Quinn as "not so much different" from DeMarcus Ware entering the NFL.
2012 Rookie: [WR] Brian Quick
Comparison: Terrell Owens
From: Rams’ WRs Coach, Ray Sherman. [via Mike Silver, Yahoo! Sports]
I see a lot of similarities to Terrell Owens. The way the kid goes and gets the ball, the physicality, the desire ... he has a chance to be special, no doubt.
I really liked him when I evaluated him. And from talking to the guys in St. Louis, I know they're very high on him. Jeff Fisher sees some traits in (Pead) that remind him of Chris Johnson.
...another type of player like Reggie (Bush). Me and him would probably be twins back there
He's like a lankier, more naturally elusive Darren Sproles.
From: Optimum Scouting
Both players are strong, compact runners. Stacy lacks elite top end speed and chose more often to run through defenders instead of out running them.
Martin didn’t have great speed either, and in fact both of the players ran 4.55 forties. Physically the two players are nearly identical and in a relatively weak running back class it’s surprising that Stacy has been so undervalued up to this point. There’s a great chance that Stacy could eventually be one of the best values in this class.
2014 Rookie [OT] Greg Robinson
Comparison: Anthony Davis
From: Rob Rang, CBS Sports
Like Davis, the physically-gifted talent selected No. 11 overall in 2010, Robinson boasts all of the traits to emerge as a dominating presence in the NFL. Whereas Davis entered the NFL with a history of weight issues and immaturity serving as potential red-flags to scouts, Robinson's relative inexperience (especially in pass protection) appears to be the only thing that could keep him from earning a blue chip grade.2014 Rookie [DT] Aaron Donald
Comparison: John Randle, Geno Atkins
From: CBS Sports, Mike Mayock
Like Randle, Donald is a virtual Energizer Bunny, demonstrating rare hustle for an interior lineman. He's explodes off the snap and uses his natural leverage advantage and surprising power to overwhelm blockers and is effective against both the run and pass. - CBS Sports
Donald is a disruptive one-gap three-technique defensive tackle. The lack of size (6-foot-1, 285 pounds) concerns some teams, but not me. He had a really big week at the Senior Bowl. He's as quick a defensive tackle I've seen since Geno Atkins. - Mike Mayock2014 Rookie [CB] Lamarcus Joyner
Comparison: Ronde Barber
From: Charlie Campbell [Walterfootball]
This is lofty praise for Joyner to be compared to a Hall of Fame candidate, but Joyner has a similar game to the Barber over the final 3-4 years of the long-time Buc's career. In that time, Barber was used as a jack-of-all-trades who would line up as an outside corner, slot corner, safety and the eighth man in the box. Barber used his instincts to make plays even after he was losing his speed in his mid-30s. Joyner is similar size to Barber (5-9, 180). Joyner could go in third round, and Barber was also a third-round pick out of Virginia. In the NFL, I see Joyner as being a poor man's Ronde Barber.2014 Rookie [RB] Tre Mason
Comparison: Ray Rice
From: Dane Brugler [CBS Sports]
Mason's compact build, vision and ability to cut and go with underrated power is reminiscent of a young Rice. Much of Rice's success at Rutgers and since with the Ravens has come from a traditional I-formation attack.
2015 Rookie [RB] Todd Gurley
Comparison: Marshawn Lynch, Adrian Peterson
From: Mike Mayock, Ladainian Tomlinson
I like the Marshawn Lynch comparison. St. Louis wants to win games the same way that Seattle and San Francisco do in the same division, that is by running the football and playing great defense and special teams. Gurley has Olympic-type speed. I love this pick for St. Louis, which already has a great defense and Gurley will help out Nick Foles. - Mike Mayock
My No. 1 running back is Todd Gurley. This guy combines the size and the skill set to get it done in the National Football League. I love to see a big man like this with the combination of size, strength, speed, and vision. I'll tell you what, he is the best prospect we've probably had (at running back) since Adrian Peterson. - Ladainian Tomlinson
Has the size and mentality needed to be a strong run blocker. Quick for a player his size. Has the length to protect the edge. Didn't get called for holding once in 2014 and rarely allowed sacks. Had success against Nebraska pass rusher Randy Gregory. Badgers' Melvin Gordon often ran behind him last season. Comes from long line of successful pro linemen at Wisconsin. - SI.com
Havenstein is athletic, long, powerful, smart and technically sound at the right tackle position—a lot like Mitchell Schwartz in Cleveland.
Intriguing tackle/guard prospect. His mass and athletic limitations are best-suited inside and his quickness off the snap could be an indicator that Brown's best football could be ahead of him. With a wider base and better body control, Brown could become a starting guard or potential tackle in power scheme. - Lance Zierlein
And there you have it. Is it possible the Rams drafted the next Marshawn Lynch or Adrian Peterson when they took Gurley 10th overall in the 2015 NFL draft? And did they help him potentially achieve that kind of production when they drafted players likened to Loadholt and Thomas?
What are your thoughts on the comparisons not only from this year’s rookie class, but that of the seven seasons prior?
(Editor's Note from 3k at 11:21pm, July 7)
"Just" Todd Gurley, if you please.