We’re introducing a new feature here in the Rams’ small corner of cover32. Each week we’ll be bringing you a top-5 list for your afternoon/evening wind down.
Some of it will be Rams-related, some of it will be league-related, and almost all of it will be debatable at best. With running back Zac Stacy eclipsing Steven Jackson’s rookie rushing mark, I thought it’d be appropriate to take a look at the top-5 rookie seasons in St. Louis Rams history.
First off, some honorable mentions:
- 1997 – Orlando Pace
- 2003 – Pisa Tinoisamoa
- 2004 – Steven Jackson
- 2012 – Janoris Jenkins
- 2010 – Rodger Saffold
5. Zac Stacy
Stacy is now the St. Louis Rams’ all-time leading rookie rusher, having eclipsed Steven Jackson’s mark of 673 in 2004. Not only that, but he still has four games to add to his current total of 696, which is more impressive considering he only got one carry in the team’s first two games. His four touchdowns also match Jackson’s total from ’04. What’s more important than the numbers, however, is Stacy’s well-documented ability to open up the rest of the offense for the Rams, which has been a crucial factor in the team’s up-and-down but overall encouraging rebound from quarterback Sam Bradford’s season-ending injury in Week 7.
4. James Laurinaitis
Laurinaitis earns this distinction for being one of the few glimmers of promise in that abysmal 1-15 season in 2009. While the Rams defense as a whole left a lot to be desired, Laurinaitis started all 16 games, led the team in tackles with 107, and also contributed two interceptions and a fumble recovery. He easily outplayed the Rams first round pick and second overall selection, tackle Jason Smith. Laurinaitis was absolutely one of the biggest steals of the ’09 draft at 35th overall and also has the distinction of being the only remaining member of that class currently plying his trade with the Rams.
3. Eddie Kennison
Throwback! Travel through time with me to 1996, when the Rams were beginning their second season in St. Louis. Selected at 18th overall out of LSU, Kennison’s rookie season could have gone a number of ways given the fact that fellow rookie Tony Banks was thrown into the fire immediately at quarterback. Despite Banks’ inexperience and mediocre (at best) rookie season, Kennison was still the recipient of 54 passes and turned them into 924 yards receiving and nine touchdowns. He even outperformed No. 1 overall pick Keyshawn Johnson and was selected as an alternate to the Pro Bowl. In fact, those yadage numbers would remain career highs until the mid-2000s when he finally eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark playing for the Kansas City Chiefs, but he’d never score more than the nine touchdowns he managed in ’96.
2. Sam Bradford
Bradford easily nears the top of this list not only for his on-field numbers, but for succeeding despite the dismal situation in which he entered. The Rams were coming off a 2009 season where they finished 1-15 and derped their way to the league’s worst overall offense. In stepped Bradford, picked first overall and charged with revitalizing an entire organization as well as the long-term hopes of an embattled fan-base. Despite those heavy expectations, Bradford performed admirably. His 3,512 yards through the air coupled with a 60 percent completion rate and 18 touchdowns earned him the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year Award, the first Ram to do so. While the team’s 7-9 record kept them barely out of the playoffs with a Week 17 loss to the Seahawks, the fact that they were even in contention after 2009′s bottom out was impressive in itself.
And the number one rookie season in St. Louis Rams history is…
1. Alex Barron
1. Torry Holt
I debated putting Bradford in this spot, but Holt gets the narrow nod here for playing a huge role in the Rams’ only Super Bowl victory. His regular season stats, 788 yards receiving and six touchdowns on 52 receptions, were hugely impressive for a rookie. Obviously lining up opposite Isaac Bruce helped inflate those numbers a bit, but that’s not at all to take away from what Holt accomplished in his rookie campaign. His 109 yards and one touchdown against Jeff Fisher’s Titans in Super Bowl XXXIV helped put the Rams up 16-0 in the third quarter and are well-worthy of crowning his rookie season the greatest among Rams in the St. Louis era.