On Thursday, April 26, the St. Louis Rams selected LSU defensive tackle Michael Brockers with the 14th pick of the first round in the 2012 NFL Draft. To honor the Rams’ decision to select Brockers, here are the top 10 first round draft picks in team history:
Steven Jackson – RB
The Rams drafted Oregon State running back Steven Jackson with the 24th pick of the 2004 NFL Draft in hopes that he would one day replace Marshall Faulk as their starting running back. Eight years later, Jackson is now the team’s all-time leading rusher with 9,093 yards, even though the Rams have been one of the worst teams in football for the past five seasons.
Torry Holt – WR
When the Rams drafted N.C. State wide receiver Torry Holt in 1999, most fans knew the team had found someone special. However, few people believed Holt would dominate NFL secondaries like he did for nearly a decade. Holt went to the Pro Bowl seven times with the Rams while finishing second in team history with 869 receptions and 12,660 receiving yards.
Orlando Pace – LT
The originator of the pancake block, Ohio State left tackle Orlando Pace was selected with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1997 NFL Draft. He earned seven Pro Bowl berths during his 13-year career while being named to three All-Pro teams. Pace has an excellent shot of making the Hall of Fame in the near future.
Eric Dickerson – RB
He wasn’t with the Rams for a long time, but Eric Dickerson made the most of the time he spent wearing the blue and gold. Dickerson still holds the NFL single season rushing record with 2,105 yards in 1984, and he’s currently second on the Rams’ all-time rushing list with 7,245 yards. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1999.
Jack Youngblood – DE
The Rams selected Jack Youngblood with the 20th pick of the 1971 NFL Draft. He earned seven trips to the Pro Bowl in his career while making five All-Pro teams. Many Rams fans remember him for playing with a broken leg, but he was more than a tough guy. Youngblood was the heart and soul of the Rams defense in the 1970s.
Isiah Robertson – LB
Isiah Robertson is often overlooked because of the talent the Rams had on the defense during the 1970s, but he proved to be more than just the linebacker who was selected in the same round as Youngblood. Between 1971 and 1977, Robertson was named to two All-Pro teams and six Pro Bowls. He remains one of the best linebackers ever to play for the Rams.
Tom Mack – G
Teams in the NFL today would never draft a guard with the second pick of the first round, but the Rams struck gold in 1966 when they selected Michigan’s Tom Mack. He anchored the Rams offensive line for 13 seasons while earning 11 Pro Bowl berths. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1999.
Roman Gabriel – QB
Drafted second overall by the Rams in the 1962 NFL Draft, Roman Gabriel would earn three Pro Bowl berths during his career. He’s ranked third on the team’s all-time passing list with 22,223 yards and still holds the Rams’ career record with 154 touchdown passes.
Merlin Olsen – DT
When the Rams selected Merlin Olsen with the third pick of the 1962 NFL Draft, they knew that he was going to be a special player. However, I don’t think anyone believed he’d make the Pro Bowl 14 times in his career. Olsen remains one of the most dominant defensive linemen ever to play in the NFL. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1982.
Elroy Hirsch – E/HB/E
You can call Elroy Hirsch a jack-of-all trades. He played three different positions in the NFL, and he played them all well. However, there is one season for which Hirsch will always be remembered.
The 1951 Los Angeles Rams made an outstanding run to win the NFL Championship thanks to Hirsch’s unbelievable 66 catches for 1,495 yards and 17 touchdowns. Those kinds of numbers would be impressive in today’s NFL. What makes Hirsch’s feat even more spectacular is the fact that he did it while playing only 12 regular season games. Hirsch was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1968.
Derek Ciapala has been a Rams fan since he was a child and the team was in Los Angeles. His favorite Rams moments include Flipper Anderson’s 336-yard receiving night against the Saints in 1989, and their miracle 1999 run to their first Super Bowl victory. You can follow him on Twitter@dciapala.
(Originally published on Yahoo! Sports)