Ghosts of St. Louis Rams' Past: Where Are They Now?
The St. Louis Rams have had their fair share of franchise-crippling draft selections. In fact, from the 2003 NFL draft to the 2009 NFL draft, Chris Long and James Laurinaitis are the only players remaining from those seven draft classes.
Teams cannot survive with such a high roster turnover rate. The team has retained a much higher percent of its draft picks from the last five draft classes, and it's no coincidence that the Rams have improved as a result.
Indeed, the Rams have drafted a number of busts in recent years. And given the cruel, unforgiving nature of the player-fan relationship in the NFL, there's no doubt that these players have been verbally slammed for their lack of production.
Sometimes, I wonder what has happened to these players since their heart-breaking departures from the league. Are they surviving? What's going on in their lives?
Surprisingly, there's no need to feel pity for these former NFL players. These guys have mostly landed on their feet...Mostly.
This article will cover a number of infamous St. Louis draft busts from the last two decades and provide information on where they're at today.
Trung Canidate secured a career-rushing record (3,626 yards) during his time as an Arizona Wildcat, but his record was conquered this past season by running back Ka'Deem Carey, who finished with 4,239 rushing yards in three seasons.
Canidate was a first-round selection for the Rams following the team's 1999 Super Bowl season. Canidate spent his career stuck behind Marshall Faulk, and he ended his St. Louis career with less that 500 rushing yards in three years.
Canidate showed some potential with the Washington Redskins during the 2003 season with 600 yards and a score, but he was out of the league following that season.
Canidate is now a personal trainer in the Phoenix area and coaches high school track, according to the Tucson Citizen's Anthony Gimino.
As most St. Louis fans remember, defensive tackle Claude Wroten was selected in the third round in 2006. He was considered a major bargain, as he was viewed as a potential first-round talent who slipped due to off-the-field concerns.
Those off-the-field concerns turned out to be legitimate. He received suspensions in 2007 and 2008 for violating the league's substance-abuse policy.
After a three-year hiatus from football following his 2009 UFL season, Wroten returned to football in 2012 with the CFL. He recorded 39 tackles and four sacks.
Wroten joined the Arena League the following year, but he recorded just a single tackle. He has not been heard from since.
Eric Crouch was a standout quarterback for the Nebraska Huskers, but his skills as a passer were not suitable for NFL competition. As a result, St. Louis grabbed him with a third-round selection in 2002 and planned to play him at wide receiver.
After a single training camp, Crouch surprisingly left the Rams without playing a single game.
Crouch is now an analyst with Fox College Football and FX. In an interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Joe Lyons Crouch admitted that he regrets the way he approached the game during his brief time in the NFL:
Looking back now, I should’ve used my rookie year as a learning experience. I was in an ideal situation for a young receiver, working with Mike Martz alongside guys like Isaac Bruce, Torry Holt and Ricky Proehl.
But I was never passionate about being a receiver.
Jimmy Kennedy was a phenomenal prospect out of Penn State and selected 12th overall by the Rams in 2003, but he never panned out as a player.
Kennedy was identified as the key whistle-blower in the Bounty Gate scandal, which eventually led to the suspension of Gregg Williams, who was St. Louis' defensive coordinator at the time of the scandal. Obviously, Kennedy denied the allegations.
So not only did Kennedy not pan out for the Rams, but he managed to get the team's defensive coordinator fired nearly a decade later.
Now that Williams is back to his coordinator role with St. Louis, there's no reason why the hatchet cannot be buried.
Jason Smith was St. Louis' No. 2 overall selection in 2009, and due to his lofty draft status, he may very well be the biggest bust in Rams franchise history.
He spent time with the Jets and New Orleans Saints in 2013, but he failed to crack the final roster for either team.
There's no information on what Smith is up to today, but considering he was handed a monster contract worth $33 million in guaranteed money, he certainly has the means to live out his life in seclusion on a deserted beach.
In the 2006 draft, the Rams owned the No. 11 overall pick. Rather than selecting Haloti Ngata, Jay Cutler, Antonio Cromartie, Tamba Hali, Nick Mangold or a number of other talented prospects still on the board, the Rams traded down to No. 15 overall and selected cornerback Tye Hill.
It was a decision that has haunted the team until this day.
Hill recorded three interceptions as a rookie, and it seemed to be the start of a promising career, but Hill was plagued with injuries the next two season, and the Rams cut their losses.
Brian Leonard was a second-round selection in 2007 and had a solid start to his career in a complimentary running back role, picking up 303 yards on 86 carries during his rookie year.
Leonard had just seven total yards during the 2008 season and left the team at the end of the year.
Surprisingly, Leonard is still an active NFL player. He rushed for 182 yards with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last season—his second-highest rushing total since his rookie year with St. Louis.
Lawrence Phillips was an excellent running back prospect coming out of Nebraska in 1996. He is truly one of the best that never was.
Tony Banks was a disaster during his three-season tenure with the Rams beginning in 1996. He threw 32 interceptions in 43 starts, and the Rams won just 15 games combined in those three seasons.
Banks now runs a football camp for high school players called "Football University," and he makes appearances for the Big Ten Network.
Banks is reportedly still very close to former NFL receiver Muhsin Muhammad—Banks' former Michigan State teammate.
Steven Gerwel is the longest-tenured Rams Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report and serves as the Rams' game-day correspondent. You can find more of Gerwel's work by visiting his writer profile or by following him on Twitter.