Now that the Rams have completed the majority of their signings in free agency, many of us have turned our attention to the upcoming draft, especially the first round (where the Rams have two picks). The ripple effects of the Jake Long and Jared Cook signings are already being felt. Jared Cook's signing has pretty much eliminated the possibility of drafting a tight end in the first round. Jake Long's signing has brought into question the urgency of drafting an offensive lineman in the first round, particularly a tackle. The losses of Danny Amendola and Brandon Gibson have also brought the wide receiver position more firmly into the #16 selection discussion. There has been much debate and conjecture regarding who the Rams should select with their two first round draft picks (#16 and #22). The #16 pick is at the forefront of that debate.
There is a growing contingent that believes the Rams should draft a wide receiver at #16. Given his outstanding season, combine results and his fit as a slot receiver, it is no surprise that many analysts and TST'ers have begun to mock and tout WR Tavon Austin to the Rams at that pick. Despite the Jake Long signing, there are still many who feel the Rams should draft G Chance Warmack or G Jonathan Cooper at #16 to solidify the interior line. S Kenny Vaccaro has also been mentioned many times as a possible pick at #16. Certainly the need for a safety is right near the top of the Rams priority list. It is also possible that a player thought of as a top ten talent could fall to the Rams at their first pick. On the other hand, each of the players mentioned could be chosen before the Rams pick at #16. A strong argument can be made for drafting any one of a number of players at that spot in the draft.
This article focuses on an alternate strategy of what to do with that #16 selection. The strategy involves trading down the #16 pick for additional picks later in the draft. The main purpose of proposing this strategy is to get everyone thinking about the merits of such a strategy and the possibilities involving the #16 pick.
Why the Rams might consider trading down the #16 pick in the first round
Who is chosen in the first 15 picks of the draft could influence the Rams draft day decisions. It is possible that all of the players the Rams covet for the #16 pick are already chosen. Justin Blackmon being chosen before the Rams #6 pick in last years draft likely influenced the Rams decision to trade down.
The composition of this years draft appears to favour trading down. There is a plateau in talent level between roughly the #5 pick to the #25 pick. The first round is generally considered to be bereft of elite talent this year. Conversely, the draft is considered to be very deep, especially at the positions of greatest need for the Rams. Much of the value in this draft is to be found in the #25-#75 pick range. The composition of this draft is set up very well for the Rams to trade down and align need with value.
As proven in last years draft, Jeff Fisher and Les Snead are not averse to considering trade down possibilities.
The Rams still have many holes on the roster that need to be addressed. Additional picks (especially those acquired in the earlier rounds) could be beneficial in addressing those needs.
The new CBA, the relatively flat salary cap and the Rams commitment to building through the draft all favour accumulating draft picks. More picks across the draft, especially in the hands of Fisher and Snead, equals more chances to find successful players at good value.
The fact that the Rams have two first round picks certainly increases the likelihood that they will attempt to trade down one of those picks.
An important consideration in this type of transaction is trade value. Each team will want to receive what they feel is fair and equal value for the trade.
In order for a trade to occur, there must be a team on the other end of this transaction that has the desire to trade up in the draft. It is one thing to "supply" the pick to the marketplace. It is quite another to find the "demand" for that pick. Which player(s) does a particular team covet that would motivate them to want to trade up in the draft? Are there other teams trying to trade down in the first round?
For the Rams to consider trading down, the transaction has to make sense to Fisher and Snead. It has to make sense in relation to value, their overall draft strategy, team needs, their big board and who has been chosen in the first 15 picks. The same rationale will hold true for the team who is wishing to trade up for the #16 pick.
Trade Value Charts
Many believe that trade value charts are used by GM's in determining the value of a draft pick trade. I looked at trade value charts (in detail) in an article I published on TST in early February (please click on link):
In summary, trades of draft picks are conducted using the principles of fair market value: what someone is offering, what someone is willing to pay for it and what someone is willing to accept in return. Much the same as how a house is sold. Don't worry, we are not going to get into "floors" and "ceilings" again!!!
The Rams traded down the #6 pick in last years draft for the Cowboys #14 and their second round pick (#45). The trade value charts reveal that the Rams should have received an additional fourth round choice from Dallas in this trade. Why didn't they receive the additional pick? Because the trade was consummated using the principles of fair market value as described above.
Case Study: The Rams trade the #16 pick to the Houston Texans for their #27 pick and their second round pick.
This trade down is just an example of what could materialize on day one of the draft. In this scenario, the Rams have gone through all of the considerations and possibilities and have determined that they would like to explore trading down the #16 pick.
The Houston Texans are one of the better teams in the NFL. They finished 12-4 last year and lost in the divisional playoff game to the New England Patriots. Teams like the Texans are generally looking for one or two players to make an immediate impact, an impact that could boost their chances of getting to the Super Bowl.
The Texans team needs are few, but glaring. Their biggest need is a number two wide receiver to complement Andre Johnson (and to someday replace the soon-to-be 32 year old star). The loss of DE/LB Connor Barwin in free agency has also left a glaring need. The Texans would also like to shore up their interior offensive line. There are a number of players the Texans could covet that would motivate them to want to trade up: DE/LB Jarvis Jones, Barkevious Mingo, WR Cordarrelle Patterson, Keenan Allen, DeAndre Hopkins and G Jonathan Cooper are all players that could be available at the #16 pick that the Texans could want to trade up for (in this example, both Chance Warmack and Tavon Austin have already been selected).
I looked at all of the trades, to get a feel for the values placed on them, then honed in on one particular trade in the first round: The New England Patriots trading up from the 27'th pick to get Cincinnati's 21'st pick. In order to consummate that trade, the Patriots also gave up their third round pick last year. From that, it seems reasonable to conclude that Houston would have to give up a second round pick to move up 5 spots farther in the draft than New England did last year (from the same starting position). This trade takes into account all of the value and trade considerations mentioned in this article.
Will the Rams trade down the #16 pick in the draft?
It is too difficult to predict whether this scenario could in fact occur. Who would have predicted that the Rams would trade down the #6 pick in last years draft? Given the considerations mentioned in this article, it may be difficult to trade down in the first round of this years draft. There could be many teams attempting to do the same thing. However, it is food for thought, especially when you consider that the Rams could potentially get two quality starters in a trade down of the #16 pick.
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