We’ve recently covered the five greatest players to represent the Rams but let’s not kid ourselves, you can’t get everything right. With the five names we’re about to bring you, you’ll see just how true that is. Get ready to grimace as we look back at some of the Rams’ draft disasters.
Number 5. Adam Carriker
Ahh, Adam Carriker. Your early days promised so much hope, yet the long term delivered so little. Carriker came through at Nebraska playing defensive tackle and joined the Rams as their number 13 pick in 2007. His first year saw him in a new role as he lined up as a defensive end. He took to the role well registering a couple of sacks on his way to being named the Rams Rookie of the Year.
It proved to be his high point. To be fair, injuries didn’t help, and, after joining the Washington (Football Team), a brutal blow in the 2012 campaign when up against the Rams hammered a nail in his NFL coffin. He never played again.
Number 4. Robert Thomas
When Thomas entered the 2002 draft there was plenty of hype. It was deserved too, he’d just been named UCLA’s defensive MVP and left college an All-American. The Rams took him in round one of the draft – at number 31 – with the linebacker penning a near $6m deal. All in all, Thomas spent three seasons with the Rams making 42 appearances before moving on to Green Bay and the Oakland Raiders.
I know, it doesn’t sound like a terrible career but, just remember, this guy was a first-round pick, and despite seven years in the NFL he registered just two sacks. He was like a horse being tipped to be part of the Triple Crown winners but failing to win any major races after all.
Life after his stint in pro football has seen him return to normality though: he now coaches at the high school level.
Number 3. Jason Smith
When you’re the second name called at the draft it is fair to say big things are expected of you. So, when you then jump forward four years and you’re finished in the NFL with just 26 starts under your belt there is no debate to be had. You’ve been a major disappointment. That’s the story of Smith. His performances at the combine couldn’t be questioned, his stats at Baylor made impressive reading and his physical conditioning was on point.
He had everything to be a success. He just wasn’t one. Ask Smith and he’ll tell you that a head injury in his rookie season had a lasting impact. Speak to others and they’ll tell you that it boiled down to mentality. Whatever the reason, the simple fact is he wasn’t good enough for the elite.
Number 2. Terry Baker
You can imagine the buzz around the Rams when they took Baker at number one in the 1963 draft. He’d just won the Pop Warner Trophy, the Maxwell Award, and the Heisman Trophy as well as being named Sportsman of the Year by Sports Illustrated. The quarterback out of Oregon State was a lock to tear things up for the Rams.
It could hardly have gone worse though. He was given three years to prove his ability to step up from college football to the NFL but he never made the leap and left the Rams – and the NFL – with a shameful record of just 140 passing yards and zero touchdowns in 18 games. He’s deemed by many as the original draft bust but he’s not as bad as…
Number 1. Lawrence Phillips
Forget the Rams, Phillips is one of the worst draft picks in NFL history. It was a car crash from the start. There was no doubting his ability and several Nebraska college records backed up his potential on the field but there were monstrous red flags waving about the person behind the player. That’s very important at the top level but the Rams gambled. It was far from a winning bet.
When you have to take time away from football to serve a prison sentence, you’re hardly a winner but it wasn’t just brushing with the law where he let himself down. There have been stories of constantly being late for training and meetings and, almost unbelievably, even turning up for games so hungover that he’d passed out!!
He managed two seasons with the Rams and seven overall in pro football – although some of that was in Europe and Canada – he’ll never be remembered for sport. In 2016, Phillips took his own life whilst in prison serving time after being found guilty of first-degree murder. It will be some disaster if the Rams find a worse pick than this – ever.
There you have it, five of the worst draft picks in Rams history. Who else do you think belongs to this list?