Now on the clock is Van Ram, chief blogger at Turf Show Times.
In 1997, the Rams drafted a young offensive tackle from Ohio State. When the team finally installed Orlando Pace as their starting left tackle, taking over for Fred Miller early in the '97 season, they laid the first and arguably most important building block for the 1999 Super Bowl championship team and the Greatest Show on Turf.
Now the Rams are climbing their way out of a 2-win season, broken, battered and betrayed by poor management. Watching the great Orlando Pace succumb to injury in recent years only underscored the need to rebuild. Rebuild we must!
Rebuilding started in earnest with the release of Orlando Pace after 13 seasons. He still had more to give, but he no longer represents the cornerstone of team's foundation. Drafting Jason Smith complements the Rams signing of C Jason Brown, and gives the offensive line a young core of players that will steady the offense and allow the team to get the most out of their investments in skill players like Marc Bulger and Steven Jackson for years to come. There's also the maturity factor and the desire of the team's new leadership to gather fierce competitors who refuse to take a down or two off. Our resident draft expert at Turf Show Times put it best in his most recent mock draft, "the Rams will look to complement the maturity they're building around and take either Smith or Eugene Monroe (OT, Virginia)."
There's also the immediate impact to consider, and the Rams are most certiainly looking at the results of OTs like Jake Long and Ryan Clady from last year's draft. When you're coming off five wins in two seasons, fans understand that 15 wins are probably unrealistic, but they won't tolerate another fall full of forgettable Sundays. Ideally, Smith gives the team some help right away in shoring up an area that's been a consistent source of failure for the last three years, making them at least able to legitimately compete in a division featuring two other teams in the midst of a rebuilding process.
It's a terrible cliche - what would sports be without cliches though? - but, for the Rams, the future starts now.
MTD thoughts: Although Eugene Monroe is a very good player, the Rams have to be hoping Detroit doesn't draft Smith. Of all the teams at the first round, Smith fits best with St. Louis where he'll still be able to use his finesse. Offensive tackle is a major need for the Rams after waving long-time left tackle Orlando Pace. This pick is an easy one to make.
Mocking the Draft's Top Five Remaining Prospects - WR Michael Crabtree, QB Matt Stafford, CB Malcolm Jenkins, OT Michael Oher, OT Eugene Monroe