In 2012, the St. Louis Rams shipped the #2 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft to Washington for their next three first-round picks and their 2012 NFL Draft second-round pick. They then promptly sent their new first-round pick to the Dallas Cowboys for an extra second-rounder....which they again shipped off, this time to the Chicago Bears. A year later, they pushed their first-round pick off to the Atlanta Falcons for an extra third-rounder and a late pick they ultimately included in a trade package.
The trade haul the Rams got in exchange for Robert Griffin III was massive.
It changed the entire foundation of the team. It stocked up talent across multiple positions and allowed the Rams to draft elsewhere, something they also did very well.
Two years ago, the Rams used their native first-round pick to select DT Aaron Donald. He would go on to win the 2014 AP Defensive Rookie of the Year award.
A year later, they selected RB Todd Gurley at #10 overall with their lone first-round pick, the first time in three drafts they had a sole first-round selection. He too would win the AP Rookie of the Year award for his side of the ball.
The Rams spent the first four years under Head Coach Jeff Fisher and Les Snead doing two things:
- Stocking up an insane amount of young talent through the draft
- Not winning
Despite the initial huge haul and the successful draftees in the years following, the Rams were unable to convert their selections into wins.
Fisher pushed his first-year Rams to a seven-win season buoying hopes of a franchise turnaround. The next season with half of it quarterbacked by not Sam Bradford saw a '6' in the 'W' column. A 2014 season completely without Bradford put the Rams back at seven wins. Trading Bradford for Nick Foles and a 2016 NFL Draft seventh-round pick for Case Keenum didn't affect the necessary change. The 2015 season would end up with seven wins.
Drafting talent wasn't changing the fortunes. The plan was failing.
That's why the Rams executed yesterday's trade for the #1 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.
The sensibility of amassing talent wasn't making a difference. That Washington team that the Rams seemingly fleeced in the 2012 NFL Draft? They since made the playoffs twice, once with Robert Griffin III and once with his prior backup, Kirk Cousins.
That the Rams were losing without great QB play was insufficient. Other teams were winning without it. In his final two years with the Philadelphia Eagles, Nick Foles led the team to a 14-4 record. Last year, the Rams were 4-7 in his 11 starts.
The time for the rational slow build up of a franchise for the Rams has passed. They did that. Well, at least they tried. And now they're bleeding the pieces of that buildup to free agency.
There was no reason for the Rams to follow the blueprint they set out for 2012-2015.
It was failing. The Rams were failing.
The Rams didn't forget the lesson of the RGIII trade. They just recognized it didn't make them better where it mattered most.
The Rams are swinging for the fences instead of advancing the runner.
Given that they don't have anything to lose...it's fair to see why.