The current era of the Rams are, for better or worse, defined by the 2012 NFL Draft trade that allowed Washington to swing into the #2 overall spot to take Robert Griffin III.
In re-committing to Sam Bradford, new General Manager Les Snead and Head Coach Jeff Fisher were going to build a team on youth and promise. Even now with Bradford gone, it's still the same foundation they've put together in the last three years.
Now, as the 2015 NFL Draft approaches, the Rams are in a familiar situation with a top 10 pick, though the unfamiliar position of it being their lone 1st round selection. If there's any expected familiarity for Rams fans, it's the likelihood of another draft trade.
Here are the moves the Rams have made under Fisher and Snead since 2012:
- 2012: Traded the #2 (first round) overall pick to Washington for their first round pick (#6 overall), their second round pick (#39 overall), their 2013 first round pick (which turned into the #22 overall pick) and their 2014 first round pick (which turned into the #2 overall pick).
- 2012: Traded the #6 (first round) overall pick, via the Washington trade, to Dallas for their first round pick (#14 overall) and second round pick (#45 overall).
- 2012: Traded the #45 (second round) overall pick, via the Dallas trade, to Chicago for their second round pick (#50 overall) and fifth round pick (#150 overall).
- 2013: Traded the #16 (first round) overall pick, #46 (second round), #78 (third round), and #222 (seventh round) picks to Buffalo for their first round pick (#8 overall) and their third round pick (#71 overall).
- 2013: Traded the #22 (first round) overall pick, via the Washington trade, and 2015 seventh round pick (which turned into the #227 overall pick) to Atlanta for their first round pick (#30 overall), third round pick (#92 overall) and sixth round pick (#198 overall).
- 2013: Traded the #160 (fifth round) overall pick to Houston for their sixth round picks (#184 and #198 overall).
- 2014: Traded the #44 (second round) overall pick and #153 (fifth round) picks to Buffalo for their second round pick (#41 overall).
That in and of itself is fairly convincing that Les Snead won't be able to get through any draft without making some kind of a move.
There's also the fact that the Rams hold the final selection among the top 10 picks, an arbitrary group but one that is if nothing else quantifiable. Since the ratification of the current NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement, three of the four drafts have featured two trades among the top 10; the standalone is the 2012 NFL Draft which featured four trades in the top 10 included the St. Louis/Washington RGIII deal.
Making a trade more likely is the Rams in position in a draft where they aren't necessarily pegged to any candidate that they likely can't get later on. As Dan Kadar from Mocking the Draft explained this morning:
St. Louis needs to get off of pick No. 10 overall. What are the Rams going to get there that they can't get in the middle of the first round? There will be offensive linemen and wide receivers nearly as good later in the first and they can possibly acquire future assets.
Kadar also ran down the Rams need to stock up the quarterback position with more than Case Keenum behind Nick Foles:
No team seems to be showing as much interest as St. Louis in the top quarterbacks in the draft. Either they're wasting a lot of time in resources in an elaborate smokescreen or they want someone to compete with the recently acquired Nick Foles. By the draft, the Rams will have worked out Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota and Garrett Grayson and had a visit with Bryce Petty. The Rams talked with all of them at the combine as well, in addition to UCLA's Brett Hundley.
In last year's draft we saw the Minnesota Vikings target Teddy Bridgewater and move back into the first round to draft him at No. 32. Could the Rams be that team this year? To make that move last year, Minnesota only gave up its second- and fourth-round picks. For the Rams, that would be picks 41 and 119. New England head coach Bill Belichick is never afraid to move around in the draft. If the Rams absolutely fall in love with someone like Petty or Hundley, Belichick should be the first call they make.
At this point, I'm more interested in picks 11-32 in the first round than I am in 1-9.
As it stands though, the Rams are in position to move. Up or down, we'll have to see. But given Les Snead's track record, the devaluation of picks in the new CBA and the #10 overall pick not coinciding with their real needs early on, there's reason to think the draft cards the Rams hold right now won't be the ones they end up using in two weeks.