It’s not often that a team gets instant gratification on its rookie class in its inaugural NFL season. That’s what the St. Louis Rams have turned their last two draft hauls into, however, as the youngsters donning horned helmets have become an instrumental part of the club’s progression in recent weeks. Rarely do all draft picks pan out as planned, but the Rams have been fortunate in bucking the concept of probability en route to finding several future contributors to their team.
This whole process started in March of 2012 when the Rams were able to ship their No. 2 overall pick to the Washington Redskins in exchange for a bounty of future choices. While Robert Griffin III was electric as a rookie, his play has come down to Earth this season and the Rams have only continued to enjoy the spoils of the deal with their recent rookie crop.
As if having guys like Michael Brockers, Chris Givens, Brian Quick, and Janoris Jenkins continue to flourish from last season wasn’t enough, the Rams have found more help in their current group of first-year players. Linebacker Alec Ogletree was a player linked to St. Louis from the start of the draft process, and the coaching staff didn’t mince words this preseason, saying he was drafted to “be the guy.” He has matured quickly on the field and turned into a turnover producing machine with 46 combined tackles, three forced fumbles, and one interception in just six games. That type of production so early hints at big things to come for the former Georgia Bulldog as he continues to grow in the Rams defense.
The other impact player has been an unexpected one on the offensive side of the ball as Tavon Austin has still been stuck in neutral as far as highlight reel plays are concerned. No, this kid plays a position that many in today’s NFL feel is going extinct, but Rams coach Jeff Fisher has always been partial to workhorse running backs. Zac Stacy was listed third on the depth chart heading into Week 1, but by the start of Week 5 he was penciled in at the top of the running back rotation. He has certainly taken advantage of his opportunity with 14 carries for 78 yards against the Jacksonville Jaguars and another solid 18 totes for 79 yards against the Houston Texans. As the team’s confidence in the youngster grows so will his workload, and that could mean some seriously positive things for a club trying to replace a stalwart in Steven Jackson with a trio of mid-round draft picks coming into the year.
And one can’t ignore the fact that the Rams will also have the opportunity to add two more first round talents to their roster in the 2014 NFL Draft as they hold the final piece to the RG3 trade with the Redskins’ first rounder in addition to their own. General manager Les Snead has proven to be a master at maneuvering in the draft to maximize his haul, and the pieces are starting to come together for the league’s youngest roster. The Rams are a long way from reaching their ceiling in terms of potential, so this recent stretch of success could just be the ignition of a rocket ship headed to the moon.