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TRANSCRIPT: Los Angeles Rams General Manager Les Snead’s combine press conference

Here’s what Lester said in Indy yesterday.

Los Angeles Rams General Manager Les Snead at the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine
Los Angeles Rams General Manager Les Snead at the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

(Opening statement)

We should probably just do this on March 14. I’ll be able to elaborate. But since its March 1st well get 15 minutes in.

(On long snappers)

There’s probably only one at the combine because none of us really knows what it takes to be a long snapper, right. But I think it is interesting, it’s very specialized. I can say that the special teams coaches do a really good job. Because that’s their world. They know the intricacies of that position. And whether you’re at the combine, I think you get to the combine because there’s kickers and punters here and you definitely need a snapper. But there is going to be snappers that played in college football this year that aren’t at the combine that will snap in the NFL.

So, like you said, it’s just a specialized, very very specialized position. It’s interesting, you know, having a kid that plays high school football, and their snapper on the team is going to end up going and playing in college football. But all the camps he attends, it’s almost like a golfer. So they live a specialized life.

(On the biggest challenges in earliest stages of process in getting QB Jared Goff synchronized with HC Sean McVay in new offense)

I think the biggest challenge in the early stages is dealing with the rules in the offseason, and Jared can’t come to work, and he wants to come work and Sean wants him to come to work. So you got a new staff, their putting in a new offense and you can’t do is ASAP. Which in most transitions in life, guess what, if there’s a transition you start immediately on it. So I think that’s the biggest hindrance is just the working within the rules and the timeframe.

Once they started working together how to do you stimulate that and get it accelerated so that you can play catch up a little bit? I think it takes, in their cases, Jared was itching to come back to continue getting better. Obviously, Sean was itching to install his offense and do his part in helping Jared improve. But it was really two human beings that were passionate about getting better. Once that occurs I don’t know if they took any time off. So Jared was then working weekends per se.

(On why a good cover cornerback is so important to a Wade Phillips defense)

Wade does a lot of, and most offensive coordinators would know this, he has a lot of man principles. Some really good defenses have a lot of zone principles. Now, nowadays in the NFL, whoever you are as a coordinator you can’t just do man or zone, you’ve got to mix it up. But I think when you’ve got a lot of, your coverage is based out of man and you’ve got someone that you can put on a very good man on the other side of the ball, it does allow you, it frees you up to do other things with the other 10 players and get creative with blitz packages and all of that.

(How different things feel this year compared to last year)

It’s interesting that there’s a difference. Obviously, we’re division champs, so that’s different but you still have the same motivation because you moved the needle per se. You got to this level of the video game but you want to go farther. So whether you were here last year trying to get to this level or here this year trying to get to that next level, it’s the same. The same desire to wake up every day and go ‘OK, how do we get better.’ Because yesterday was successful but not where we want to be.

(On the evaluation process when you look how DB use has changed, with five or six the standard now and guys in college playing various positions)

It is interesting. I think for the good of football there’s probably more defensive backs available in terms of, let’s call it a pool to select from. Because starting in whatever league, you’re 7 on 7s, they don’t bring the DL or the linebackers to 7 on 7s. A lot of times it’s five or six DBs so there’s more players playing that position. But it’s interesting in college too it gets specialized as depending on the conference they’re in, the offenses they play against, you might have a corner who’s built to play on the outside but it was best for his college team to play on the inside based on who they were playing and what other teams’ quarterbacks can do and things like that. And you don’t get a chance to see the guy play on the outside. So, it poses some difficulties. But I think all in all, it is nice. Because I think John Lynch was up here earlier and I heard him say, this is a spacing game. So there’s a lot of athletes that can play in space in college football.

(On a guy who might be in the wrong position and just has the traits you’re looking for in a cornerback)

Yeah, you have to look at those traits and then you have to predict that you can, and the coaching staff, can develop him to play out there. Obviously, any time you’re doing it, you’d love to say, ‘OK we saw him do it.’ But it was interesting. I was talking to one college coach who has a corner in the draft. He had a great story in that he played at a high school, they were basically, let’s call it played a deep-zone coverage. The conference he was in didn’t throw the ball a lot. But you got this big athlete. So he ended up watching him as vice on punt team, because that’s when he’s up pressing the gunner on the punt team. He says ‘OK that’s when I saw him press, flip his hips and things like that.’ So it was interesting how he said how he found this particular corner. But you got to do those type of things.

(On the difference between now and last year at the combine when Snead characterized Todd Gurley’s season as a maybe a bit of a sophomore slump.)

I don’t know if I have a good term for junior but let’s call it Hey he was offensive MVP for reason. Special, special player. Did it a lot of different ways. Running the football. Catching the football. Scoring touchdowns. So he’s one of those guys where not only does he help your football team, he’s just you know. He’s one of those guys, if I was paying to go see a game, I’d say let’s go to see Todd Gurley and one of the Gurdles – that’s what we’ve nicknamed the hurdle, the Gurdle – so it’s just fun to watch him and but I can tell you this, he really helps the Rams offense and he won the MVP of the offense in the NFL for a reason.

(On the value of a running back)

Good question. I think is it the value of the running back but sometimes, especially the last few guys they’re just, guess what, they’re really talented human beings. So if they had played something else maybe the value of that position would have gone up. So it probably depends on the person that’s actually putting on the helmet. And I think the value of the running back gets more valuable when that player actually is one of your more important offensive weapons and how a coach can use it. But it’s interesting, going back to when we were in high school: who touched the ball the most? The running back and it’s probably still that way in the NFL, so I think it’s always been a very important position.

(On how much has that valuation has changed now that you have pass catching running backs like Gurley, New Orleans Saints RB Alvin Kamara, Carolina Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey)

Now you put genres on running backs. Are they, hey are they more in line, first and second down type running backs? Are they more change of pace? Can they catch? And the really good ones can do both where, hey you can run between the tackles but also send him out. And that way when this running back is in the game at least the defense is on its heels a little bit in terms of ‘All right what is he going to do?’ Where if you get specialized defensive coordinator’s going to go, ‘OK so and so is in the game they’re probably going to throw it or block it.’ But I think now in college football it’s hard to be a running back and not catch the football.

(On his early impressions of Penn St. RB Saquon Barkley)

It’s always fun when you’re watching a player and you know there’s no chance he’s getting to you. And we got a good running back so you’re probably not picking him, and he does fall to you, you might trade that pick. But you know he’s not getting there and its fun, you sit back and go, ‘Wow. This guy’s just fun to watch. He did some amazing things.

(On making predraft trades)

It’s an urgency to get better. It’s an urgency to improve. You have things you want to address and there’s a lot of avenues to address them. And then, just like some offensive coordinators, you like to attack. You like to put it in two-minute mode and get things done, so I think that’s the philosophy you take. Just urgently try to get better.

(On drafting a quarterback in the first round and if he should be the starter as a rookie)

I think that’s going to be determined by if he’s ready and just because he’s a first-round quarterback doesn’t necessarily mean he’s ready. And when you’re not ready for that first game doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to be bad. But I do think, as we all know, if you send someone out who’s not quite there for whatever reason, and quarterbacks have a harder time coming in because they’re coming from usually a system where they’re not in the huddle, their getting hand signals, to all of sudden there’s somebody they got an earphone in their helmet and there’s a coach sending in a sentence and now that guy’s got to remember the sentence, get it to the other team, then remember….So you don’t want to send that guy out where he’s still thinking, has a few bad games and that just leads to, let’s call it less confidence going forward. So it’s case by case and not everyone’s going to be ready based on where they played college football and things like that.

(On trend of mid-round WRs outperforming early round receivers)

I hadn’t done that study. When you said that the first guy that came to mind was [New York Giants WR] Odell Beckham Jr., or somebody like that, he was in the first round. But I get what you’re saying. I think similar to the DBs, if you got a lot of DBs on the field there’s a lot of wide receivers on the field. And those guys, there’s a lot of passing now in middle school ball all the way up so these guts are learning to really, let’s call it the intricacies of route running. And I do think that kind of the farther you go back in the draft maybe the less mom-dad God-given physical skills you have. That’s probably the reason you got pushed back a little bit but they are obviously successful and I think because they were less gifted they’ve really learned a craft of how to get open, make catches, move the chains.

(On importance of getting players re-signed)

Like we mentioned, any time we won the division championship so everybody who was on that team for us last year played an important role. So it’s important for us to work through this time. I know we’ve been working at the combine. I see [Rams Senior Assistant] Tony Pastoors over there. He’s taking a slight break but this time of year we’re trying our best to urgently get these things done. But time will tell.

(On whether WR Josh Reynolds could step up to fill in for WR Sammy Watkins)

We were very impressed with Josh. Fortunately we had a deep receiving crew last year that for the most part was healthy but through the year. Just at Texas A&M there was few things that he did in practice and even in games you’re like, ‘Wow. OK that’s the josh Reynolds that we saw go up and make catches against good players in college football.’ So he can wow you with some of those catches. Very excited about him whether no matter who the first three receivers are.

(On what convinced him that WR Cooper Kupp was a good pick)

I was personally probably sold on Cooper Kupp long before last year. You just saw him over the years whether it was the year before, you’re watching Oregon and he plays, he may have had 400 yards catching and you’re like, ‘OK who is this kid? He’s fun to watch.’ I think any time you turned on the film, I know this, other teams knew he was the guy to stop. They just couldn’t stop it. And because he played a lower level of football, but very competitive. When he went to the Senior Bowl he did some of the same things. And I think when you see somebody at the Senior Bowl do it against guys that are going to be playing in this league, OK there’s an element, Ok there’s definitely a chance that what he does in college is going to translate to what he does in the NFL.

(On if Kupp can play outside)

Definitely can be. I think when we lost Robert Woods this year he was able to go out and play outside because he is a bigger kid. I think with us he [fits] exceptionally well in the slot so I think coach McVay would love to keep him there just because he values that slot receiver.