Much like I did when I examined the worst quarterback the Rams have ever drafted, I’m limiting the pool of candidates to relatively highly drafted guys who were expected to produce right away but were extreme disappointments instead.
So who gets the honor of being the anti-Eric Dickerson?
With all due apologies to first round busts such as Gaston Green and Trung Canidate, any discussion centered around terrible Rams draft picks – no matter the position – starts and ends with Lawrence Phillips.
Phillips was a highly touted running back from Nebraska but did have plenty of red flags both on and off the field when entering the draft in 1996. Still, the Rams ignored all those red flags and made Phillips the sixth overall pick in the 1996 NFL draft.
Without Nebraska’s powerhouse offensive line, Phillips floundered with the Rams. In 25 career games with the Rams, Phillips averaged only 3.3 yards per carry and had a total of 1,309 rushing yards and 12 rushing touchdowns. As disappointing as Phillips was on the field, he was roughly 500 times worse off it, as he had a number of off-field domestic violence incidents that saw him spend 23 days in jail during his time with the Rams.
Head coach Dick Vermeil, who often practiced patience with troubled players, got so fed up with Phillips’ antics that he cut him just before Thanksgiving in 1997, less than two years after the Rams selected him to be their franchise running back. At the time, an emotional Vermeil predicted Phillips would eventually get his life together and become a Pro Bowler.
Vermeil was wrong.
Instead, Phillips only played in 10 more NFL games before hanging on for a couple years in the CFL. After his football career officially ended, Phillips had a number of off-field incidents, the most serious of which came in 2005 and involved him driving a car onto a football field toward three teenagers after he got upset during a pickup football game.
Phillips was eventually convicted of assault with a deadly weapon and was also convicted of choking his then-girlfriend. In late 2009, he was sentenced to more than 31 years in prison. The earliest he’ll be eligible for release is the year 2032, when he’ll be 57 years old.
Related: Should the Rams consider signing a free agent quarterback this offseason?