The words "rookies" and "impact" do not automatically jump to mind when assessing the draft history of the St. Louis Rams.
Rams fans instantly shiver at hearing the names of past early-round picks in recent drafts. Mardy Gilyard. Anthony Hargrove. Donnie Avery. Adam Carriker. Joe Klopfenstein. Tye Hill. Alex Barron. Trung Candidate. It's enough to make any Rams fan sick.
Multiple administrations of Rams management have attempted to recreate the Greatest Show era via the NFL draft. Success is a fleeting goal in that regard, for the list of Pro Bowlers drafted by the St. Louis Rams since 2003 is incredibly short. In fact, it's just one---running back, Steven Jackson.
So what could be different with this year's crop?
Quantity, first and foremost. The Rams selected six players within the first 100 picks of this year's draft. Those selections touched skill positions all over the field, from wideout to defensive line, and running back to corner.
Another is the strong base of leadership already on the team. Unlike in previous drafts, this Rams squad has franchise cornerstones in place at all the necessary positions. Sam Bradford at QB; James Laurinaitis at ILB; Chris Long at DE.
Throw in a still-in-his-prime Steven Jackson at RB and two very young, but talented, OTs in Jason Smith and Roger Saffold, and it seems the Rams are just a few ingredients away from one very fine meal.
Who are the rookies then that will buck the trend of years past, and make an instant impact in the 2012-13 season? I'll give you a hint, it's not first-round pick Michael Brockers.