When a draft pick busts spectacularly, like Jamarcus Russell, Troy Williamson, or Courtney Brown, it makes headlines and that player’s name is immortalized in excrement for that team’s fan base. But when an entire draft class evaporates into valuelessness, it can set back a team for years.
The 2001 Rams draft disaster -- spending four picks in the top 44, including three first-rounders, and not getting a single franchise player -- was a dynasty-killing blunder. The 2006 and 2007 draft classes that should have jump-started the recovery instead produced names infamous among Rams fans -- Tye Hill, Claude Wroten, Joe Klopfenstein, and Adam Carriker -- and brought to a merciful end the destructive Jay Zygmunt era.
Putting those drafts in perspective, though, I found that neither ranks among the top ten worst drafts of the last fifteen years.
Who says? A new value metric created by Pro-Football-Reference.com. Their “Career Approximate Value (CarAV)” statistic seeks to provide a rough numerical summary of a player’s positive contribution to their team, regardless of position.
For example, here’s how they rate the infamous 2001 Rams draft class:
|1.12||DT Damione Lewis||32|
|1.20||S Adam Archuleta||31|
|1.29||DT Ryan Pickett||48|
|2.42||LB Tommy Polley||29|
(Bold indicates the player is still active, still adding to his CarAV score.)
Now, this wasn’t a good draft. But here’s a scary thought: the Rams’ total approximate value from the 2001 draft was actually one of the highest of the entire Zygmunt era.
These guys were given roster spots and ample time to play, and they were average. Not great, not bombs, just average. Average play over an extended period of time accumulates CarAV points. For example, Damione Lewis never became a force, but he did tally ten sacks for the Rams while doing dirty work on the line, and continues to be a reliable plug in Carolina’s well-regarded defensive line. And his production from the same position was a small notch better than Cliff Ryan’s, who we generally regard as a halfway decent player.
Now compare these scores to the top of the Rams' 2006 draft:
|1.15||CB Tye Hill||10|
|2.46||TE Joe Klopfenstein||9|
|3.68||DT Claude Wroten||2|
|3.77||LB Jon Alston||5|
|3.96||TE Dominique Byrd||2|
Those five players combined haven’t had the impact on the league that Tommy Polley had. Now that’s truly frightening. But after the break, we play Vincent Price and take a look at a few drafts that were even scarier: