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WATCH: Los Angeles Rams HC Sean McVay, GM Les Snead discuss 2019 NFL Draft approach

Here’s what the Rams’ head duo had to say as we near the 2019 NFL Draft.

Los Angeles Rams HC Sean McVay & GM Les Snead

(Opening Remarks)

Snead: “I will open and no offense to everybody else in the room, but I’ll call this the annual (Los Angeles Times reporter) Gary Klein Day because he mentioned the other day, he did ask me if we were going to do the fifth-year option with (QB) Jared (Goff). I was like, ‘Yes.’ And he was like, ‘When?’ And I’m like, ‘I really don’t know, but it’s on the checklist somewhere.’ He did say that last year we announced that we were - at this press conference - for a few players last year. So, I think we will announce that this year at this press conference, so if we have any fifth-year options that we’re going to do, we’ll do it at this press conference in honor of you, Gary.

“The one thing that I want to say about Jared is the fifth-year option is one thing. A few years ago, we moved up to get him. I can say that three years later, him helping us win two divisions, win a conference championship – we probably would have given an extra pick – don’t tell the (Tennessee) Titans that – if we had known that was going to occur. So, we definitely look forward to working with Jared and continue chasing and earning that type of success in the future.”

McVay: “Couldn’t be more excited about having Jared as our quarterback. The biggest thing is just want to make sure that there’s clarity on how great we feel about him leading our team for many years to come. When I was asked about it, and I said that something that’s not in the immediate future. That’s not an indication in the least bit of the confidence we have in Jared. He’s a great leader. I think, when you look at just what he has provided for our football team. I think it really provides a rare opportunity for myself as he and I are really growing together. He’s going into his fourth year, we’re going into our third year working together. I couldn’t be more excited and I know our staff feels that way. It’s truly become, you know, Jared is one of the instrumental leaders and you just watch the way that it has occurred naturally. I think one of the best things that’s an indicator of what a special guy this is, is when you look at the way that his teammates in college responded to when he was drafted No. 1 overall. There’s a lot of times that his teammates here have those same types of reactions when they see him succeed and they see him take accountability for things that haven’t worked out. This is a guy that is the ultimate leader. As he continues to accumulate experience, we feel so good about our quarterback position with him leading the way. This is a big-time deal to be able to know that we’re going to have him for that fifth year and many years to come after that.”

Snead: “With that being said, we’ll go to the draft and don’t ask us about the top quarterbacks in the draft because we really haven’t studied them. I will open by always saying, the people in this building deserve thanks. Starting with the area scouts, they started this process with the ‘19 draft this time last year and on through the fall. Many days in hotels in college towns across the country, away from families, home - things like that. They do an unbelievable job starting with our – we call it our over-the-top staff – kind of the directors and those guys. The coaching staff, when they got involved. There’s (Senior Director, Sports Medicine and Performance) Reggie (Scott) and his staff, (Director, Player Engagement) Jacques McClendon and his staff, consultants – there’s a lot of people in this building that get involved in this process. One of the most fulfilling parts of this job is to sit down with each one of those departments and people and feel the passion that they have for trying to help the Rams make a right decision. And sitting with Sean and collaborating with them and garnering their insight and their diverse thoughts on how each of these guys can help the Rams. Sean always asks me, ‘Boy, how can your job be fulfilling? You start with 600 or so players and we end up with maybe seven.’ He says, ‘It would be more fun if we could end up with 100 or so.’ But that’s not the process. But those guys deserve a ton of credit. I’m sure you’ll want to add something Sean.”

McVay: “Just how thorough these guys are. I think there’s such a huge amount of respect, really from our coaching staff to Les and his group because of the amount of work that they put into vetting these players, to studying all their film. They’ve done such a good job of really helping isolate, what are the guys that fit within the framework of our team? What are our needs? But then also, how we prioritize the board. It’s studying the film, guys that are working at it. It’s doing to background, finding out about the human being and making sure that these guys fit. When you see just how thorough they are, how hard they work at it – you can’t have anything but an appreciation for, really, Les and his group. There’s a lot of guys that do a phenomenal job behind the scenes that certainly don’t go unappreciated in our building. But, when you see the entirety and the amount of work that goes into these next few days coming up this weekend - it’s a real credit to the organizational structure that Les has put in and then just being able to have a thorough process where there’s a lot of different plans in place when you don’t know exactly how things are going to play out. But, you feel like you’ve got answers and no matter how this thing shapes up, we’re going to come away with some good players that we know fit and are ideal fits for the Rams. So that’s a credit to them.”

Snead: “I think the best things we can do – us two – is to help implement a really, really good process and then surrender the results to that process.”

(On the draft evaluation process being condensed due to playing in the Super Bowl)

McVay: “It was a little bit different – I would say the biggest thing that was affected was more just the delay you have on the free agency and really just the self-scout, in terms of evaluating your current roster, which is a positive problem. As far as the draft goes, when we got to the combine, it seemed like it was pretty quick, where we were a little bit behind where we typically are. Like any year, really the first couple of years, (General Manager) Les (Snead) and his staff did such a good job of being able to kind of get the board shaped up. I think really when you look, going into now our third draft together with our coaches and our scouts and Les and his staff working in unison, there’s a much better rapport just with the experience. I think there’s a better understanding of what fits now having had two years with the current players on our roster, getting through another free agency. I think there’s a very clear-cut philosophy. That’s something that will be never-ending, in terms of just tighten up our process and continue to get the guys that fit for what we’re looking for in Rams in this building. That’s been successful so far. We want to continue to make sure that we’re evaluating ourselves and the way we go about that year-in and year-out.”

(On how likely the team is to select a player at No. 31 overall in the draft)

Snead: “I think we discuss both scenarios. I think first and foremost, we have to be prepared to pick at (No.) 31. If your choice was to trade back, you’ve got to have a partner and there’s no guarantee in that. I think that’s first and foremost. Again, a lot depends on – I don’t think I’m smart enough to figure out who falls to 31, so you could be guns a blazing to trade back, but somebody falls to 31 that maybe puts a governor on that thought. I think it will be – if you pick at 31, you’ll get a quality player. The benefits of trading back would be, can you acquire an extra mid-round pick? The way we painted the picture – if you trade back, can you get an extra player like a (WR) Cooper Kupp, a (S) John Johnson (III), a (T) Joseph Noteboom, (C) Brian Allen, a (WR) Josh Reynolds – some guys that we’ve gotten in the third and fourth (rounds) – (OLB) Samson Ebukam, (DL) John Franklin-Myers. The key there is those are people who had a role here and it’s up to us if we do that, to still draft right and develop right.”

(On how eager McVay is to have a first-round selection for the first time as a head coach)

McVay: “I don’t think so. I think there’s so many quality players. You look at the names that he just mentioned right there, I think if there were a lot of draft do-overs, guys would be taken in the first round. It’s about finding guys that fit for us. That’s where trying to anticipate, ‘Okay what does it look like if those first 30 guys go off the board when you study the entirety of the draft and then some of the team needs in front of us.’ That certainly shapes a lot of the decision-making process. That’s what good about where we’re at right now, you’re talking through a lot of different scenarios, no different than a game-plan, if you will. It’s the game-plan that these guys and we have as an organization for the draft. Whether it’s first, second, third (rounds), it really doesn’t matter. There’s going to a lot of quality players that we find in this draft, like the last couple, that are going to be key contributors. Once they get in the building for us, if they’re a caliber of player that we expect to contribute, that’s the most important thing. I think we can find guys in the first round and outside of that, depending upon how it shapes up.”

Snead: “I was joking with (Defensive Coordinator) Wade (Phillips) this morning, the benefit – there’s thorns to not having a first-round (selection) the last two years. I was joking with Wade, the benefit of not having one the last couple years is we’re used to, let’s call it, really focusing on this area of the draft. There’s not a lot of difference between (No.) 31 (overall) and where we (drafted) when (Head Coach) Sean (McVay) came in, that early second round. We’ve been swimming in these waters. That’s the benefit of the last two years.”

(On not having drafted in the later first round in previous years and how that changes his preparation)

Snead: “One thing that changes is you’ve lived through the building and the breakthrough, which in that process, you’re picking a little bit earlier in the rounds. It definitely changes your strategy, you have to really be realistic based on as much data as you can gather of the realistic pool of players that we are dealing with. That goes back to the coaching staff and getting them involved and not spending a lot of energy, I call it fantasy football, if we’re never going to see those players, really spending the energy on the realistic players. I couldn’t help but think when Sean was asked about the coaching staff getting involved, my wife Kara (Henderson-Snead) said, ‘You know it’s a shame the draft is in April.’ I remember telling her one summer, that I was a major Cooper Kupp fan, this was when he just finished his sophomore year at Eastern Washington. Then she sent me a text with (former WR) Steve Smith blasting on NFL Network that he was the best route runner in the NFL. She basically said, ‘There’s no reason you should find a player early, because the draft is so late everybody can catch up.’”

(On their reaction to the Seahawks trading Frank Clark to the Chiefs)

McVay: “You mean, am I going to be sad not to see him twice a year? Heck no (laughs). He’s a great player. I think there’s a lot of things that go into that. He is a very good football player and I will not be upset having to worry about seeing him. There’s a lot of really good players that they have in Seattle, but Frank was a special one. He’ll do a great job in Kansas City and that’s why he earned the deal.”

Snead: “I’ve got a gut feeling they’re going to pick one of those players we deemed ‘unrealistic’ to us. So, there may be a new player.”

McVay: “I’m sure there will be.”

Snead: “That’s just how this thing works, right?”

(On if Snead agrees that this year’s draft class is strong for defensive linemen and if it’s a position he hopes to add)

Snead: “If I go through the totality of the defensive line, I do think we’ll look back and go, ‘Wow, this was a quality defensive line class.’ What I do think is there will probably be more drafted in the first round – and that’s probably counting rushers, interior – that’s been in a while. Now it’s still up to those players to come in and live up to those standards, but they certainly have in college football. The problem for us is, it’s a very deep defensive line class, but it could get really thin even before we pick at (No.) 31. So, there’s some good and bad to being a deep defensive line class. But, I do think we’ll remember this draft as one where more of those guys were drafted earlier than probably ever, and then now it’s up to the kid and the teams to get them to reach their potential.”

(On if McVay met with DT Aaron Donald to discuss Donald’s plan for offseason training and if so, what came of that meeting)

McVay: “So, he’s going to be here. The one thing is, is that he has a family situation where his kids are back in Pittsburgh working through school. The family stuff is always the priority, especially this time of year when it’s such a precious amount of time. Aaron’s going to be here, really, a good bit of the offseason program, and that’s something that he was willing to do some different things in terms of working with us. That’s all you can really ask for is one of your core leaders to do that and the thing that you always be careful with is, it is voluntary. Now, certainly, as coaches we want these guys around as much as possible. What we appreciate more than anything is the willingness to work together to try to be understanding from both perspectives. It’s going to be kind of a flexible deal, but he’s been here these first couple of weeks. There might be a couple days where he’s going to go back and see his kids. But, we’ve kind of looked at the entirety of the offseason program and he’s going to be here a lot of the time. And then the times that he’s not, it’s a reflection of being able to spend some time with his daughter and his son and being out there in Pittsburgh while they’re doing some things school-wise. I think we totally understand that and that’s kind of where we’re at right now with that.”

(On CB Marcus Peters and OLB Dante Fowler not being here initially for the start of the offseason program and if there’s a status update on them)

McVay: “Marcus was away because he recently just had a child and everything went well with that and he’s going to be here at some point this week. I thought it was great for him to be there and be a part of that. Everybody’s healthy and feeling good. Then, Dante was having some things that he was taking care of back in Jacksonville. I actually have to communicate with him this afternoon and see. But we expect some finality to the things that he had to handle back there and we’re expecting him back with us sooner than later as well.”

(On their confidence in OLs Brian Allen and Joseph Noteboom, and if adding additional offensive lineman through this year’s draft is important considering some of the players lost this offseason)

Snead: “The really good thing about those two players in particular and the way we were able to do it is, we were able to draft them a year earlier than we expected them to contribute for us – and both of them did. They both have played at this point in time. But the nice thing about that is it gives them a chance to get into Sean’s (McVay) system and then Coach ‘Krom’ (Run Game Coordinator Aaron Kromer) to do his magic developing them, so when you do ‘call their name’ per se, they’re ready or more ready than they would’ve been as a rookie. So, that’s the benefit of being able to do that. Again, the draft – there’s 31 other teams that have a say and could take some of the guys before us. We’d love to be able to do that once again, but time will tell here in the next few days.”