Devaney drafts give hope for the future

A recent retrospective on the last five NFL draft classes written by’s Matt Maiocco ranked the Rams 27th out of 32 teams, hardly a surprise for a St. Louis team that went 14-50 from 2006 until last season’s 7-9 finish.

The article ranked Jason Smith as the Rams’ worst pick in this time period, but those of us unlucky enough to suffer through the Adam Carriker and Tye Hill picks orchestrated by Scott Linehan and Jay Zygmunt beg to differ.

Carriker, now a Redskin, was chosen over Darrelle Revis in 2007 and Hill started only 21 games in three seasons before moving to Atlanta in exchange for a seventh-round pick.

All in all, of the 17 players drafted from the 2006 and 2007 drafts, only Clifton Ryan remains and even he may be on his way out of St. Louis after spending most of last season on the injured reserve.

Some may argue that Maiocco’s ranking was generous based on the blatant ineptitude of the previous regime to find quality players in April.

However, the ghosts of draft day failures are slowly being exorcised from St. Louis as the duo of Billy Devaney and Steve Spagnuolo have brought depth and talent to a depleted roster.

Of all the draft picks since 2008 under Devaney’s watch, the Rams have 20 of their 26 choices still in blue and gold.

This list includes the youthful foundation of Sam Bradford, James Laurinaitis, Chris Long, Rodger Saffold and Jason Smith along with plenty of talented role players.

Bradley Fletcher was a third-round pick in 2009 and started 16 games last season while racking up 75 tackles and four interceptions.

Chris Chamberlain and David Vobora were both seventh-round picks in 2009, but still combined for 70 tackles, two sacks and two forced fumbles in 2010.

Other defensive youngsters Darell Scott (fourth-round 2009), Jerome Murphy (third-round 2010) and George Selvie (sixth-round 2010) all represent contributions to the team too.  

The potential firepower of Donnie Avery and Michael Hoomanawanui is another asset to the St. Louis offense if they can stay healthy next year and beyond.

Under new leadership, there is strong evidence indicating that the Rams will be ranked much higher than 27th on Maiocco’s list in the future.

If Devaney’s draft track record continues in 2011 and beyond, there is no doubt the Rams will translate April success to January playoff appearances sooner rather than later.