Re-Grading the St. Louis Rams' 2010 NFL Draft
I'm not a fan of grading draft classes after one year in the league, so I decided to piggyback on the idea of my colleague Erik Frenz. He waits three seasons, and then goes back to the draft class and assesses its value.
With some draft selections, patience is the key. Not every player is going to play at a Pro Bowl level during their first season, nor are they going to be starters right away. Different circumstances dictate different results. That is exactly why some of the NFL's best players don't rise to the top until later in their careers.
Let's take a look at who earned a passing grade from St. Louis' 2010 draft class.
After going 1-15 in 2009, the St. Louis Rams decided they needed a franchise quarterback in the worst way. Marc Bulger was nearing the end of the line after eight years with the organization, so the timing seemed fitting.
Prior to the 2010 draft, general manager Billy Devaney and coach Steve Spagnuolo had their eyes set on Sam Bradford. Coming out of Oklahoma, Bradford was being compared to Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning by some talent evaluators.
Which meant fans and media members alike expected the No 1. overall pick to produce immediately.
Bradford answered that call by setting numerous rookie records. He established a record for the most consecutive passes without an interception, eclipsed Peyton Manning's record for the most completed passes by a rookie quarterback and surpassed Manning's record of 575 pass attempts.
However, his sophomore season wasn't as easy as his rookie campaign. In Year 2, he had a new offensive coordinator after a locked-out offseason and a nagging ankle injury during the season forced him to miss six games.
Yet he bounced back in a big way in Year 3. No. 8 set career highs in passing yards, passing touchdowns and quarterback rating. For the first time in 2013, he will have the same offensive coordinator in back-to-back seasons.
After selecting their franchise quarterback in the first round, the Rams decided to protect their $86 million investment by drafting offensive tackle Rodger Saffold in the second round. Saffold was regarded by many as a first-round talent, but was passed over at the end of the first round by teams looking to fill other needs.
St. Louis was jubilant as it immediately entrenched him as its left tackle of the immediate future. During his rookie season, Saffold's play caught the attention of the masses. He only allowed three quarterback sacks, 10 quarterback hits and 27 quarterback hurries.
Yet his sophomore season was much like Bradford's. It was marred by injury and disappointing performances. In just nine games, No. 76 allowed 11 quarterback sacks and 32 quarterback pressures.
His third NFL season was more of the same in terms of playing time. He appeared in just 10 games, but the time off early in the season seemingly helped him regain his 2010 form. After missing six games between Weeks 3-9, Saffold finished the remaining eight games with strength.
Opposing defensive ends managed one sack and four hits on Bradford during that late-season stretch.
Despite signing Jake Long during free agency, there's no question Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead will find room for Saffold on the Rams' offensive line.
Prior to the 2010 season, St. Louis' defense was in need of help at the cornerback position. So the Rams decided to draft a physical, press-man cornerback in Jerome Murphy. While appearing in 14 games as a rookie, Murphy intercepted one pass, broke up two more passes and had 16 solo tackles.
However, that ended up being the end of his impact as a St. Louis Ram. In 2011, he was placed on injured reserve before the season started and was subsequently cut from the Rams' roster on September 1, 2012.
Former fourth-round pick Mardy Gilyard lasted exactly one season in St. Louis. As a rookie in 2010, Gilyard caught six passes for 63 yards and managed to pick up four first downs. Unfortunately for him, he fell out of favor with the coaching staff and was cut after the fourth preseason game in 2011.
Michael Hoomanawanui instantly became Sam Bradford's go-to-guy when he was on the field in 2010. The two hooked up for three touchdowns on only 13 receptions. But like so many others, Hoomanawanui found it impossible to stay healthy.
He logged snaps in just eight games during his rookie season. The following year wasn't much better as he again made an appearance in eight games. Twenty receptions in two years wasn't going to cut it as Fisher cut him loose on September 2, 2012.
The New England Patriots signed him three days later. For New England, Hoomanawanui made seven starts and caught five passes.
Defensive end Hall Davis never took one snap as a member of the St. Louis Rams. He appeared in three preseason games before being traded to the Washington Redskins for an undisclosed draft pick.
Tight end Fendi Onobun was another one of Billy Devaney's coveted late-round projects. Devaney took a flier on Onobun in the sixth round, but found out very quickly that the former basketball player needed a lot of work.
So much work, in fact, that the Rams could only afford to keep him around for one season. He caught two passes during his rookie season, but failed to show progress during the 2011 offseason. The lack of progress led to Onobun being cut on September 3, 2011.
Of the two sixth-round picks the Rams had in 2010, Eugene Sims is by far the better of the two. He has managed to stick on the team's active roster for three straight seasons, while appearing in 38 games. Not to mention he started two games in 2012 for defensive end Robert Quinn.
It's obvious that Sims doesn't find himself in the starting lineup all that often, yet he has found his niche as a rotational pass-rusher on the defensive line. His best season as pro was this past season—he sacked the quarterback three times and hit him four other times.
It's also worth noting that Sims recorded his first career interception against Tampa Bay in Week 16. Look for his role to continuously expand in 2013 as he quickly became a favorite of defensive line coach Mike Waufle.
Because of a serious knee injury, Marquis Johnson only appeared in five games for the Rams over the course of his two-year career. When healthy, Johnson flashed potential, yet it always seemed like he was dealing with some sort of knee ailment.
He eventually became too much of an injury risk and was waived on May 3, 2012.
Like the rest of the late-round selections in the Rams' 2010 draft class, defensive end George Selvie was able to stick on the roster for exactly one season. During that season, he appeared in all 16 games, recorded 1.5 sacks and had 15 tackles.
Selvie was waived by St. Louis just before the start of the 2011 season.
Despite being the last member of St. Louis' draft class, linebacker Josh Hull has found a way to remain on the Rams' active roster for three straight seasons. He hardly sees playing time on defense because of James Laurinaitis, but Hull has learned to make his living on special teams.
In 2012, he had five special-teams tackles. It was the fifth-highest mark on all of St. Louis' coverage units, according to Pro Football Focus.