Should The Rams Trade Back, Up, Or Stay Put?
Draft weekend is upon us! Every team’s fans were on pins and needles waiting to see who their team picked in the first round. Well, not every team’s fans. Nope, Rams fans were relaxed on draft day one and will be for the foreseeable future. Some don’t even acknowledge that day one of the draft even exists. Unless, that is, if the Rams ever trade up into the first round!
Well, Rams fans, I wouldn’t hold your breath on that one. Coach Sean McVay said in his press conference that he doesn’t see any “glaring holes” in which they feel they need to fill in the draft and Snead echoed that sentiment by saying they are in an “enticing spot” in the draft and would be selecting the best player available when their number comes up.
So like Rams fans, it seems the Rams brass was chilling on the first day of the draft, watching like the rest of us. McVay isn’t even worried about the center position and would prefer not to draft a center. McVay wants to move forward with his currently rostered linemen, Brian Allen and Coleman Shelton.
Of course, this all could be a clever ruse. Doesn’t seem like Snead and McVay are playing it a little too cool. A condo in Malibu?! That’s a bit much. What are they hiding? This relaxed approach is just a smoke bomb ignited to hide the real plan to trade more draft picks to move up into the early second round.
Ok, fine. Maybe not. But they did hint at an interest in taking a wide receiver that could also help on special teams.
Trading up is not only unlikely, it would be difficult to pull off with the value of their draft capital and tradeable players for any significant roster upgrade. Whatsmore, trading up would diminish their ability to do what they actually need to do which is add a bunch of depth and do it on the cheap. This is why trading down from 57 may be the best plan for the Rams. If the Rams don’t want to find a starting center or cornerback in the second round they could flip that pick for another third-round pick and for additional picks that fall in the 100-200 range. This would boost the Rams picks from six to eight picks. Unlike trading up, there are several scenarios that allow the Rams to trade down. Usually at this point in the draft teams are looking to trade up a few slots to ensure they get their guy. This opens the door for many trade partners for the Rams, which could compound into several moves, accruing several picks in the third and fourth round.
The top minds in the NFL have begun to realize that once you get out of the top 10-15 in the draft, picking becomes a crapshoot. (Even in the top 15 it is about a 50/50 chance of hitting) Meaning that rather than putting all your eggs in one basket, especially in the second round, teams should accumulate as many picks as they can.
That is to say, a great batting average in baseball means you fail to get on base 70% of the time. Accumulating picks ensures a team gets enough at-bats to get on base and maybe even hit a home run but also reduces the sting of the inevitable whiff.
While the Rams don’t have glaring holes, they do have needs and areas to improve. They need to replace Troy Hill and add depth at edge rusher behind Leonard Floyd. They should start building depth behind Aaron Donald. Widely regarded as the weakest position on the field, they will need to draft an inside linebacker.
It would be good to add a short-yardage power/ blocking running back to replace Malcolm Brown, but it would also be good for Matthew Stafford if that back could catch passes, as well. Speaking of Stafford, adding a deep threat would help him tremendously. Not only will they need to add weapons for Stafford, but they will also need to add protection. They need to add depth on the offensive line, at least a tackle and a guard.
Once you look at this kind of shopping list, it is easy to see why trading down in the draft would benefit the Rams. Listed above are eight draft picks. The Rams could get by with the six they currently have, but not all six are going to be home runs or even base hits.
For example, last season they drafted Jordan Fuller at 199 and Clay Johnston at 234. They ended up cutting Johnston and Fuller will be a starting safety in 2021. Eight or more picks will boost the chances of finding another Jordan Fuller and it won’t hurt as much if they draft a dud.While Snead has said that he has talked with other GMs about trading down he has also said he is committed to taking the best player available. So staying put at 57 is still very much in play. The draft is deep at a few positions. Offensive line and wide receiver are two of those positions. Also, there may be a few attractive cornerbacks still on the board at 57. Asante Samuel Jr. or Ifeatu Melifonwu may be available for the Rams.
If a player is available at 57 that the Rams think could make a significant impact on day one, they will definitely draft that player. But that said, that player would have to beat out some stiff competition to earn a starting role. A cornerback, a guard, or a center would have the best chance at a starting role and with Desean Jackson’s injury history a wide receiver has a shot at it too.
From the outside, most people wouldn’t regard the Rams position as particularly enticing. But it makes sense why Snead and McVay may feel that way. It really cuts out the noise when you feel good about your roster. Also, when it is impossible and inadvisable to move up it puts you in a place of power because there is only one direction to go. And, since it is in their benefit to go in that direction it makes the draft your oyster.
The Rams have found pearls late in the draft in the past. This year they are in a good position to do it again.