St. Louis Rams: 5 Biggest Draft Busts

Doug ZerjalContributor IIDecember 9, 2011

St. Louis Rams: 5 Biggest Draft Busts

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    Since the Rams moved to the "Gateway City" in 1995, there have been numerous draft blunders. These blunders have set back the franchise over and over.

    One of the huge problems in football is that it takes more than one or two players to make a franchise. It takes smart draft decision combined with the right amount of free-agent acquisitions to produce a quality NFL team. Sometimes, as in 1999 with Kurt Warner, it takes luck.

    On the part that the Rams control, St. Louis has been atrocious at acquiring and then developing talent. The Rams' selections at the top of their drafts are the best example of why the Rams have continued to find themselves at the bottom of the NFL standings.

    Here's the Rams' five biggest draft busts since they moved to St. Louis.

5. Tony Banks

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    The Rams took Tony Banks, quarterback from Michigan State, in the second round of the 1996 NFL draft.

    Banks started 43 games for St. Louis during his tenure. His threw 36 touchdowns and had 42 interceptions as the Rams' quarterback. His most defining play is probably his 1998 end zone dive against Minnesota that came up one-yard short.

    That played pretty much summed up his career. The Rams made wholesale changes to their quarterback position before the 1999 offseason because Banks was not the answer.

    He was a main reason that the 1996-1998 Rams were not a good team.

4. Robert Thomas

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    Who is Robert Thomas you ask?

    Exactly.

    Thomas was the 31st overall selection for the Rams in the 2002 NFL draft. He played three seasons in St. Louis, never recording more than 62 total tackles in season. He's lasted in the NFL playing some special teams for the Packers and Raiders.

    But the reality is that you're a bust when a team drafts you in the first round and you never become an NFL elite talent. A linebacker drafted that high is expected to produce. The Rams lack veteran NFL talent on defense because of moves like this.

3. Jason Smith

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    To be realistic, including Smith on this list might be a bit premature. He is only in his third season in the NFL.

    But to be honest, Smith has underachieved badly as a Ram. Smith was the second overall pick in the 2009 draft out of Baylor. He was supposed to be the top offensive lineman in the draft. He hasn't even played closed to that level thus far.

    Recall that Smith has battled injuries through most of his career. That's a given. However, he was benched earlier this season for poor play by offensive coaches. That's not what the second pick in the draft is paid to do. That's been the story of Smith's career so far. He's not consistently on the field enough, and he's not consistent in his play on it.

2. Adam Carriker

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    Adam Carriker was supposed to be a game-changing defensive presence for the Rams. Unfortunately, he never found a role and eventually left the team after just 3.0 sacks in two seasons.

    Carriker currently plays for the Washington Redskins. He is not a Pro Bowl worthy player there either, proving how poor of a choice he was for St. Louis as the 13th overall pick in 2007.

1. Lawrence Phillips

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    Lawrence Phillips is the original St. Louis Ram bust. He was the sixth overall selection for the Rams in the 1996 draft.

    Phillips had off-the-field problems while at Nebraska. Despite those problems, the Rams made him a rich man in the spring of 1996. The Rams let Jerome Bettis leave in part of because of Phillips. It set back the franchise for three-plus years.

    Phillips rewarded St. Louis with mediocre play and less than two years of service. Phillips was released during the 1997 after almost two years in St. Louis. Few will forget Dick Vermeil crying about the talents of Phillips at a news conference.

    Phillips was supposed to be the main cog in the Rams' offensive unit for a decade. He lasted less than two.