After trading for the #1 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft two weeks ago, the Los Angeles Rams expressed that they were still doing their due diligence between Cal QB Jared Goff and North Dakota State QB Carson Wentz.
I find that a little hard to believe. You don't sell the farm to get in a position to evaluate two players, you do it to draft a player you feel will change the course of your franchise.
The feeling from the get-go with this trade is that the Rams were targeting Goff. That feeling has grown stronger in recent days and it seems like his selection at #1 is the worst kept secret in the NFL. But it's a secret nonetheless - by request of the NFL.
Why is the league asking the Rams to keep the pick secret? Because both the league and the team stand to benefit from the headlines.
The NFL lives off of drama. The more, the better - especially positive drama. With 'bounty-gate' this and 'deflate-gate' that wearing on fans in recent years, I'm sure that the league jumped at the opportunity to get some positive press. Not only does not announcing the pick keep the Rams plans hush-hush, but it also adds intrigue to the Philadelphia Eagles pick at #2 and on down the board from there.
On the Rams end, this is all about PR. Check out this quote from an ESPN article last week that makes their desire to be in the headlines clear.
"There will be suspense leading all the way up to the draft," Snead said. "It will be good for the networks."
Play it as 'good for the networks' as much as you'd like, but this move got the Rams in the headlines in a major way. Despite what owner Stan Kroenke is saying about the team's motives, this was as much about making a splash and branding as it was about football.
Contrast what Kroenke said against the man on the other side of the bargaining table - Tennessee Titans GM Jon Robinson - and you get both sides of the story (via SI.com):
"At one point," Robinson said, "I told Les that the other part of the number one pick is as soon as we’re out, our logo is off and your logo is up, you control the top of the draft, there’s a marketing and branding impact, you’re in the pole position, you’ve got great stuff for ‘Hard Knocks’ [the Rams are the NFL’s chosen team for the NFL Films/HBO series this summer], and we’re out. To me there was some value in that. You get two weeks of branding and marketing."
From a fan standpoint, I'm more likely to believe the Titans GM over the Rams owner. Tying that back into the original train of thought here.... if the Rams wanted 'branding and marketing' as a part of this trade, they have every reason NOT to announce the pick. As soon as they would announce that they've decided on a QB, they lose the majority of the spotlight as the collective NFL world turns their attention to the Eagles.
Judging by previous moves by the Rams - namely not announcing the trade until after Kobe Bryant's swan song and their status as a willing volunteer in the NFL's international series in London/China - the Rams wanted as much time in the spotlight as possible.
And the NFL 'asking' to keep the pick secret is helping the team as much as it is the NFL.
Editor's Note from 3k: The other angle of this worth keeping in mind both tonight but especially for 2017 and beyond is how many other teams (a) the NFL would have asked this of and (b) how many would have actually done it. The demand on the networks broadcasting the draft hasn't drastically changed in recent years. There was no reporting suggesting the league pressured Tampa Bay to conceal their decision to pick Jameis Winston a year ago. It's just odd that the league would ask the Rams something they haven't asked any other franchise to do and the the Rams would acquiesce so completely even today as Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher continues to play coy at the league's behest. If anything, it's something to re-consider a year from now ESPECIALLY if whichever team that ends up drafting the #1 overall selection in the 2017 NFL Draft announces their selection prior to officially being on the clock...