A few things are clear when re-visiting the last 15 first round picks of the Los Angeles Rams: the recently-relocated franchise isn't fond of dealing its top draft pick (or at least picking outside of the first round) and they've been awful, evidenced by their seven top ten selections. In fact, the team has selected in the top-15 with their five most recent picks.
There has been some home runs among the past 15 Los Angeles Rams first round draft picks and there has been some mistakes you could live with. Unfortunately, there have been many duds as well. To begin with, the organization hasn't had a top ten quarterback since Kurt Warner. Sam Bradford and Marc Bulger did enough to allow the Rams to hover near mediocrity, but neither were good enough to make the team a postseason threat. Yet, the Rams had a chance in almost all of the past 15 drafts to grab a better quarterback, finally settling on Jared Goff in the 2016 NFL Draft.
We'll operate this re-draft under the assumption that the team is drafting with the roster it had that year rather than the previous picks we made, thus keeping it realistic for position requirements.
Original Pick: QB Jared Goff, 1st Overall
The Rams had a franchise-altering opportunity with the first overall pick last year. Having drafted powerful running back Todd Gurley with the tenth overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, the Rams acquired the first overall pick in 2016 from the Tennessee Titans. They were set to move from St. Louis to Los Angeles and had the opportunity to select a franchise quarterback to usher in a new generation of fans.
It was assumed the team would select either Carson Wentz or Jared Goff, the top available quarterbacks. As we know, the Rams took Goff, the owner of the worst college win-loss record (14-23) of any number one drafted quarterback, but also the NCAA leader in passing yards in 2015 with 4,714. It's early, but Goff was forced to sit and watch Case Keenum do his best attempt at impersonating an NFL quarterback, while Wentz has captured national attention for his veteran-like poise.
Original Pick: RB Todd Gurley, 10th Overall
Though he's having a down year after an explosive rookie campaign, Todd Gurley is still the man in Los Angeles. They have a lot invested in him and he has enough strength and athletic ability to be a threat with every touch. Yet, with the loss of James Laurinaitis looming, the Rams would have been smart to shore up their linebacker depth.
Laurinaitis was the Rams' leading tackler and after a down season in 2015 joined the New Orleans Saints. The Rams would have had to find other ways to replace him, but putting Bud Dupree on the outside and Alec Ogletree on the inside would have given the Rams a terrorizing defense. Through 19 career games, Dupree has 30 tackles, including four sacks and two safeties. Gurley averaged 4.8 yards per carry as a rookie but is down to 3.2 this season.
Original Pick: OT Greg Robinson, 2nd Overall
Sure, the catch would have never happened - let's face it, Sam Bradford or Nick Foles aren't connecting deep with OBJ - but the addition of Odell Beckham Jr. to the Rams would have given the team the offensive weapon it has been lacking for years. In his short career, Beckham Jr. has scored 33 touchdowns and accumulated 3,770 yards. Tavon Austin gives the Rams flexibility on offense and Kenny Britt is a dependable receiver, but neither possess the game-changing ability of OBJ.
Drafting OBJ would have been a bit of a reach at the time, especially with the Rams need for help at the tackle position. Greg Robinson stepped right in and had a decent rookie season, but has recently been benched due to poor play. The Auburn alum reportedly showed up to training camp 15 pounds overweight and has been flagged for penalties 12 times this season.
Original Pick: DT Aaron Donald, 13th Overall
It's not easy to make an argument for the Rams drafting anyone other than Aaron Donald with the 13th pick in 2014, but the argument is there. Donald has anchored the team's defense in the past three seasons, recording 26 sacks and four forced fumbles, but none of that means much when your offense can't move the ball.
The Rams were 24th in most quarterback sacks allowed in 2014 and after an improved 2015 they are back to 25th in 2016 with 2.58 per game. Zack Martin, taken by the Cowboys three picks after Donald, would have helped. Martin is already considered one of the league's best offensive lineman and is showing his value with the league-leading Cowboys. The two-time Pro Bowl player had allowed just 27 quarterback hurries through his first two seasons.
Original Pick: WR Tavon Austin, 8th Overall
The Rams held the 16th and 22nd picks heading into the 2013 NFL Draft, but made separate trades to move up and down with both picks. The team moved up to eight from 16 in a trade with the Buffalo Bills and used that pick to take Tavon Austin. He was on the team's radar with the 16th pick, but the West Virginia product was likely to be off the board by then.
The other player the Rams were considering originally at 16 was DeAndre Hopkins. What's worse is that the team could have got Hopkins at 16, instead of having to deal an additional second and third round pick to the Bills (which ended up being LB Kiko Alonso and WR Marquise Goodwin). Austin has scored 12 touchdowns for the Rams and is a threat out of the backfield, but he isn't the long distance threat that Hopkins is for the Texans. Hopkins has more than double the amount of receiving yards than Austin and 11 more touchdowns.
Original Pick: LB Alec Ogletree, 30th Overall
The Rams recuperated some of the picks lost in the Bills trade by trading down from 22 to 30, where they selected Alec Ogletree. Though the inside linebacker has been one of the organization's best value picks in recent years, the Rams once again had the chance to shore up its mediocre offensive line. Instead, the Dallas Cowboys swooped in and selected Wisconsin center Travis Frederick with the 31st pick.
The Rams likely aren't second guessing their pick of Ogletree - the linebacker has essentially replaced the tackling production of James Laurinaitis - but Frederick is already the league's most dominant center. The Cowboys agree; the two-time Pro Bowler was signed to a six-year, $56.4 million contract extension in August. And to think the Rams could have had both Frederick and Martin, who have both helped make Dak Prescott look elite.
Original Pick: DT Michael Brockers, 14th Overall
The Rams had to have been happy with Michael Brockers through the LSU product's first two seasons. The defensive tackle recorded 9.5 sacks and 77 tackles through 29 games, but in the three seasons since he has just 5 sacks and 89 tackles.
St. Louis didn't have any holes to fill at the linebacker position - they drafted linebacker Aaron Brown in the seventh round - but they could have nabbed a future star in Chandler Jones with a little foresight. While Brockers' productivity seems to have tapered off, Jones continues to be one of the league's premier linebackers. Drafted seven spots after Brockers, the now-Arizona Cardinal has recorded 44 career sacks and 13 forced fumbles. He's tied for 11th in sacks through Week 13 of the 16'-17' NFL season.
Original Pick: DE Robert Quinn, 14th Overall
You can make a case for some of the players drafted after Robert Quinn, but the Rams desperately needed help on the defensive line going into the 2011 season. Quinn was coming off of a sophomore season at the University of North Carolina in which he recorded 19 tackles for losses, including 11 sacks and six forced fumbles. And he hasn't disappointment through his six-year NFL career.
Quinn has racked up 54 sacks and 19 forced fumbles; in 2013 he had a career year, posting 19 sacks and seven forced fumbles. He was awarded a four-year, $65-million contract prior to the 2014 season. You could make a case for the team drafting current Washington Redskins linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, but Quinn's resume is equally as impressive.
Original Pick: QB Sam Bradford, 1st Overall
The early returns of the Rams drafting Sam Bradford were positive. The 2008 Heisman Trophy winner won the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2010 and had a career year in 2012 before injuries halted his development. Still, he has been nowhere near what you would expect out of a first overall quarterback and lasted just four seasons with the organization.
Given they had the first overall pick, the Rams could have made better selections with any of Demaryius Thomas, Dez Bryant, Jason Pierre-Paul, Earl Thomas, Joe Haden, or Eric Berry. But few of those players were expecting to go in the top ten, let alone first overall. Still, instead of drafting Bradford, the Rams could have made the easy choice to go with Ndamukong Suh, who was selected second by the Detroit Lions. Suh recorded 10 sacks as a rookie and has amassed 47 throughout his career.
Original Pick: T Jason Smith, 2nd Overall
The 2009 NFL Draft won't be remembered for producing elite players, but that doesn't excuse the Rams from selecting tackle Jason Smith with the second overall pick. Outside of top pick Matthew Stafford, the first round of the draft produced few offensive stars (Jeremy Maclin and Michael Crabtree being the only two), but some strong linemen and linebackers. Clay Matthews has been the best of the bunch.
Matthews has been the face of the Green Bay Packers' defense since the team selected him with the 26th pick. As a rookie, the former USC Trojan recorded ten sacks and 51 tackles. The 30-year-old has 71.5 career sacks. Smith, meanwhile, goes down as the biggest bust in Rams history. A former Baylor tight end, Smith was moved to tackle and failed to show improvement at the position. He was traded to the New York Jets in 2012 and retired the following season.
Original Pick: DE Chris Long, 2nd Overall
The Rams could have done a lot worse than Chris Long with the second pick in 2008. A speedy pass rushing defensive end out of Virginia, Long paid immediate dividends for the Rams, recording 17.5 sacks in his first three seasons. Now a New England Patriot, Long meant a lot to the franchise, but it's hard not to second guess the pick when a franchise quarterback is the next player taken.
Matt Ryan was a perfect fit for the Falcons with the third pick, but it's not as if the Rams couldn't use a quarterback. They finished 3-13 the previous season with 30-year-old Marc Bulger (11 TD, 15 INT) under center, but didn't draft a quarterback with any of their eight picks. Drafting Ryan would have greatly improved the franchise's fortunes.
Original Pick: NT Adam Carriker, 13th Overall
Adam Carriker enjoyed moderate success in five NFL seasons, but he's not the type of player you hope to grab with the 13th selection, especially when there are plenty of future Pro Bowlers taken behind him. In fact, the guy taken one pick after Carriker - cornerback Darrelle Revis - would have been the perfect choice.
Widely regarded as the best corner in the league for a two-year period, Revis has 28 career interceptions and 477 tackles. At his best, he was a player that forced offensive coordinators to adjust their game plan and at 31-years-old he remains a dependable corner. Carriker spent just two seasons with the Rams before being traded to the Redskins. He last played in 2012 after a knee injury cut his season and ultimately his career short.
Original Pick: CB Tye Hill, 15th Overall
Outside of a decent rookie season, Tye Hill enjoyed little success in his five-year NFL career. The cornerback out of Clemson was traded to the Atlanta Falcons in 2009 and played just 12 games over the next two seasons. The selection ranks as one of the Rams biggest busts, not so much because of Hill, but the players drafted behind him.
Chad Greenway, Antonio Cromartie, Santonio Holmes, and Johnathan Joseph are among the players taken in the ten picks after Hill. Better yet, the Rams could have selected Tamba Hali, a Penn State defensive end who would have freed them up to select Matt Ryan two years later. Throw in Hali's 89.5 career sacks and 32 forced fumbles, you'd have one hell of a decision.
Original Pick: T Alex Barron, 19th Overall
Leave it to the Rams to pass up multiple opportunities to draft a franchise quarterback later in the draft. It's not an easy thing to do, but it stings to leave future Pro Bowlers on the board when you haven't had success with quarterbacks taken first overall.
As much as missing Matt Ryan in 2008 hurts, there wouldn't have been a need for the Boston College product had the Rams taken Aaron Rodgers with the 19th pick in 2005. Instead, the Rams took tackle Alex Barron, who played five seasons with the team. Maybe Rodgers wouldn't have flourished under Marc Bulger as well as he did under Brett Favre, but he couldn't have been worse than Ryan Fitzpatrick, who the team took in the seventh round of the 2005 Draft.
Original Pick: RB Steven Jackson, 24th Overall
Steven Jackson couldn't have been a more perfect selection for the Rams in 2004. With Marshall Faulk entering his 11th season in the league, St. Louis needed an heir, preferably a year or two before Faulk left so he could provide tutelage.
After a 673-yard rookie season as a backup behind Faulk, Jackson topped 1,000 yards in eight consecutive seasons. Jackson scored 69 rushing and nine receiving touchdowns for the Rams, Falcons, and Patriots through 12 seasons, nine of which were in St. Louis. The next five running backs selected after Jackson in 2004 - Chris Perry, Kevin Jones, Tatum Bell, and Julius Jones - combined for 66 career rushing touchdowns. Beyond that, no player taken after Jackson meant more to their franchise than he did for so long.