I'm going to take a look at some of the recent drafts, and give General Manager Billy Devaney a report card, as I grade the picks from the first five rounds of the past three drafts. Keep in mind that Devaney was not the General Manager for the 2008 draft, as former head-coach Scott Linehan was still running the show; but Devaney was, however, involved in that draft.
Here is an explanation of the grading scale:
A: Potential franchise player, and potential to be elite at the position. This may also be the grade for a mid to late round pick that has far surpassed expectations.
B: For high round picks, this means that they were a solid pick, and they are probably a solid starter. For mid to late round picks, it means that they were a very solid pick for their draft position.
C: For a high round pick, this means that they are just average. For late round picks, this means that they weren't a good pick, but not a flat out horrible pick either.
D: A poor pick for the spot the player was chosen.
F: Flat out bust, an awful pick.
Round 1 Sam Bradford A: Bradford is playing at an elite level for a rookie quarterback. It is clear that he has the potential to be the next big time NFL quarterback; and I'm not talking about Aaron Rodgers or Phillip Rivers, I'm talking about Peyton.
Round 2 Roger Saffold A: Whenever a second round offensive-tackle can start on the blindside immediately, and play at an acceptable level, then chances our that the pick was probably a very solid one.
Round 3 Jerome Murphy B-: He is getting a good amount of playing time in the nickel package, and has made some plays. It is hard to expect much more out of a third round corner.
Round 4 Mardy Gilyard B-: As a fourth round pick he is getting playing time as the primary kickoff returner, and he is starting to get playing time as a receiver. He has yet to show an ability to make big plays on Sundays, like he was able to in college. He is seeing the field more than the average fourth round pick, so that makes his value acceptable.
Round 5 Mike Hoomanawanui A-: If only he recovers from the injury, and shows something in the regular season, then he just might be an A+. He was Bradford's favorite target during the preseason, catching his first two touchdown passes, and Big Mike had three total touchdowns in the preseason. If he can come back from his high ankle sprain, and have a similar effect in the regular season, they he could be a complete steal in the fifth round.
Round 5 Hall Davis D+: I wasn't expecting a solid contributor from the fifth round. However, it would've been nice to have a guy capable of playing on special teams, or at least to practice squad. The reason it is not a C is because there were special teams players available at this point; and the reason it is not an F is because you can't expect a lot from this spot in the draft.
Round 1 Jason Smith D+: I'm not saying he is a bust, and I'm not saying he isn't slowly improving, but I am grading him based on what he has done so far, which is not much. I think that either Aaron Curry, Michael Crabtree, BJ Raji, or Eugene Monroe would've made a better pick. I didn't like this pick then, and I still don't now. He was the number two overall pick, and he got beat out at left-tackle by a second round pick; that's not something you want to see out of a player making this kind of money. I believe that Smith was drafted based on his personality, and attitude, rather than his level of play.
Round 2 James Laurinaitis A+: Everyone, including myself, was shouting for Rey Maualuga when the Rams were on the clock for this pick. Thank god I wasn't drafting for the Rams when they made this selection; but still, once they announced Laurinaitis as the pick, I thought it was a fine alternative pick. Turns out it was more than just a fine alternative, it was the best pick of the draft. The Rams have had a void at middle-linebacker ever since they lost London Fletcher, and now they have a franchise linebacker of Brian Urlacher proportions.
Round 3 Bradley Fletcher A: Fletcher won the starting corner job, opposite Ron Bartell, just a few games into his career. That is phenomenal for a third round pick. Fletcher looked lost this past Sunday, but overall he has been developing into a fine starter. A nice find in the third round.
Round 4 Darrel Scott B: Who would've thought that the Rams would the able to find a solid part of their defensive-tackle rotation in the fourth round? He has a lot of developing to do; but it is nice to see production and depth from a fourth round pick.
Round 5 Brooks Foster D: He was never able to stay healthy long enough to show anything. I always wondered why the team looked at a receiver that was the number three receiver at his school; that didn't make much sense to me.
Round 1 Chris Long A-: Some fans consider Long an overrated player, however, I think he is easily an underrated player for the Rams. He has not had a 10+ sack season yet; but when you look at the alternative players the Rams could of drafted, and when you look at the havoc that Long creates for opposing offensive-lines, then it is easy to see why Long was a good pick. He is a key asset for the Rams' defense, and he will be a solid part of the unit for the next ten years. The sacks will come, just give him time, and wait until the Rams can find him some help at the other defensive-end position.
Round 2 Donnie Avery B-: A very controversial pick, considering that DeSean Jackson was still available when the Rams made this pick. Jackson was clearly the better option; but when you look at the other receivers that were taken in the second round between Avery and Jackson, then it is easy to see the Rams got the next best receiver. Avery was the Rams' top receiver in 2009, and probably would've had a break out year if not for his injury. He will be back in 2011, and he will be an asset. Just think about the receiving core next year, with Avery, Mark Clayton, Danario Alexander, Danny Amendola, and Mardy Gilyard. They have potential to be a scary group; add one of the top receivers in the 2011 draft, and it will be an elite group.
Round 3 John Greco C-: For a while it seemed as though Greco would be the right-guard of the future. He got a decent amount of playing time his rookie year, but the past few years he has disappeared. Let's hope that he continues to develop, but for whatever reason, he has vanished from the map.
Round 4 Justin King C: It looked as if King was pretty useless during his first two seasons; but recently, he has developed a little, and has been playing solid so far in 2010. Let's hope he continues to develop, and that he adds some depth.
Round 4 Keenan Burton C: I liked this pick for the potential alone. Burton showed flashes of ability, which indicated that he is talented enough to be a NFL receiver. Unfortunately, Burton has never been able to stay healthy, so the Rams cut their losses with him. He has the talent, but his body just didn't agree.
Round 5 Roy Schuening D-: Who? I can't really give an F to a 5th round pick, but much like Hall Davis of the 2010 draft, it would've been nice to find a player at this spot who could of at least made a run at a special teams position, or a practice squad spot.