Last year, Les Snead put his stamp on the St. Louis Rams organization in a big way. He swapped the second overall pick in a deal with Washington, and kept right on trading his way up and down the draft order as the weekend moved along. There could be more movement on tap again this year.
St. Louis is, according to the rumor mill, open to the idea of dealing again this year. Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune and the National Football Post said Sunday that the Rams are interested in moving down or up in the first round of the draft.
Moving up is anathema to many fans who would rather hang onto the draft picks or acquire more by dealing their way down in the order. That's fine, so long as there's actually a player or two the team is targeting, and not just moving for picks themselves. Moving up has its advantages too. Snead should be familiar with that as a key part of the Falcons front office that moved up to take Julio Jones in the 2011 NFL Draft.
Trading up makes perfect sense if the Rams feel like there is a player that really improves this team, a la Jones and the Falcons in 2011. Who could be a potential trade target this year?
Tavon Austin immediately comes to mind. He's now widely considered to be the best offensive skill player in the draft. Don't rule out the possibility of chasing Chance Warmack or Jonathan Cooper. Those deal seem less likely, but both players would make the Rams offensive lines one of the best in the league. Kenny Vaccaro is another option. The Texas safety seems less likely to be the target of a deal because of the depth at the position this year. However, this coaching staff has a long history with defensive backs, and if they think Vaccaro is there best man, a trade up is possible.
Speaking of trading to improve the offense, it makes sense that the Rams would be unwilling to move Rodger Saffold. Pompei even notes that the Rams envision Saffold as a part of the team's future.
The Rams have done everything but take out ads on Craigslist to find offensive line help over the last six years. In hindsight, the team's probably pretty lucky that the offensive line didn't end Sam Bradford's career before it started. Getting rid of a quality starting tackle just doesn't make sense. Even if the Rams do end up drafting another tackle with one of those first-round picks it gives them real depth at the position, something they haven't had in a long, long time. Besides, Snead isn't going to get much in return for Saffold. One more year of a starter OT is better than anything he can do with a fourth-round pick he'd get in return.
As for the long-term future part, that would be great if the Rams can sign him to a long-term deal. It might be in Saffold's best interest when you consider what a brutal year this one was for free agent tackles looking to cash in.