As you know, the LA Rams added pick 57 with the trade of Brandin Cooks to the Houston Texans last week. The move saved them no money in the short term but did give them important draft power that they were lacking before the trade. Les Snead and Sean McVay can choose to simply draft two players at the end of the second round, but what kind of options do they have if they instead opted to slide up for a prospect, offensive line or otherwise?
Because trading a player for a pick is an easy way to trade and that’s why it’s maybe the most common transaction of that ilk. However, if you could have traded Cooks and pick 52 for pick 26 (Houston’s original first rounder, though they didn’t have it anymore; I’m just using it as an example), would you have done it?
The move means one less player drafted but it jumps the Rams a full round and also gives them a fifth-year option with their number one pick. Also consider that while it means that prospect is more expensive and LA is up against the cap as is, they’ll have one less rookie to have to pay next year.
What if the Rams packaged 52 and 57?
Using the Jimmy Johnson chart as a starting point, picks 52 and 57 are roughly equal to pick 25 in the first round. Hence why I used 26 as an example.
Players picked 25th overall in the last decade include Dont’a Hightower, Xavier Rhodes, Jabrill Peppers, James Carpenter, Hayden Hurst, Shaq Thompson, and Hollywood Brown. It also includes Tim Tebow, Jason Verrett, and Artie Burns. There aren’t many complete duds in this group outside of Tebow and Burns. Verrett could not stay on the field, a risk with any prospect. I’d also say there are no superstars or great players, Hightower being the closest to that. Carpenter isn’t a great player but would a decent guard help them right now and for the next few years? Yeah.
A sample of 10 players with a draft pick range of one is not much and I wouldn’t base it all on that but the expectation that you’re getting someone like Jabrill Peppers or James Carpenter or Hayden Hurst is reasonable. A good starter in most cases.
Now flip the numbers in 25.
Players picked 52nd overall in the last decade include three one-time Pro Bowlers — Zach Brown, Jamie Collins, and Deion Jones — (notice that for whatever reason all three of these players are linebackers, as is Hightower from our earlier paragraph) but little in the way of excitement:
Jason Worilds, Marvin Austin, Troy Niklas, Jordan Phillips, DeShone Kizer, Kemoko Turay, and Drew Sample are the other seven. Of those, Phillips is easily the most outstanding thus far and it took him a long time and two teams in order to find his ceiling. And many wonder if that’s going to be repeatable for Phillips next season.
The players picked 57th in that time:
Terrence Cody, Mikel Leshoure, Brock Osweiler, D.J. Swearinger, Carlos Hyde, Rob Havenstein, T.J. Green, Zach Cunningham, P.J. Hall, and JJ Arcega-Whiteside.
Combined they have not made any Pro Bowls. Six of them have 1 or 0 seasons as an NFL starter, though Arcega-Whiteside and Hall are quite new to the league. Green never became a starter and has had four years since his draft. Havenstein, you know his story.
This does not mean that picks 52 and 57 couldn’t produce two great players. But on average, what could you actually expect from those two picks?
I think if the Rams used both picks and came away with two players who each started three decent-to-quality seasons for them with no Pro Bowls, it would be an extraordinarily good haul. Anything above that is something to be quite happy with yourself over. Compared to pick 25, which is currently held by the Minnesota Vikings, I think a reasonable expectation would be one player who does have three to four quality seasons as a starter with the team and has been in the Pro Bowl conversation once, maybe twice.
Rams buying power beyond a 2-pick package
What if the Rams wanted to just use one of their two second round picks to move up, which as you know, is the far likelier scenario?
LA’s pick at 84 has something like 170 fake Jimmy Johnson points, whereas pick 104 has 86 and pick 126 has 46.
Pairing 52 with 84 could give Snead enough room to move up into the top of the second round, which as I wrote on Thursday is potentially good enough to get the Rams a second tier tackle or a top tier interior lineman in this draft. If they combined 52 with 104, it may only get them into the 42-46 type of range, which could also potentially get them the lineman they desire in the second round.
Interestingly, the Texans hold pick 40 and we know that the two sides already negotiated plenty. To get from 52 to 40, pick 104 may do it. You would just wonder though, if the Texans would do it now, why not just do it during the Cooks trade? They could have kept 57 and given them 40 while returning 104.
If the Rams make their pick at 52 and really want to move up 2-4 spots from 57 for another player they really wanted, the cost might only be a seventh rounder or a future conditional fifth/sixth.
Snead and McVay don’t have many options concerning round one or the early second round, but thanks to the Cooks trade, they do have some options.