Les Snead and the Los Angeles Rams have been in contention each year since hiring Sean McVay as head coach in 2017. McVay has never had a losing season in L.A., and as a result the team expects to draft towards the back of the order year in and year out.
Trading a late first round draft choice for a proven commodity was a savvy move for a Rams team that was looking to get over the hump - and they got good value from Jared Goff, Brandin Cooks, Jalen Ramsey, and Matthew Stafford.
But in 2022 the bottom has fallen out from underneath this team, and based on the current standings the Rams are set to give the Detroit Lions the number seven overall pick in the 2023 draft as the last first rounder exchanged in the trade for Stafford. When Snead and McVay made the quarterback swap before the 2021 season they likely had priced this pick in as a late first rounder, but Detroit could end up with a top-10 selection and the opportunity to come away with a franchise cornerstone.
To add insult to injury, the Lions also have a 3-6 record on the season. Their pick is penciled in at number 11 overall currently, and while Los Angeles has dropped three in a row Detroit has won two straight games.
What are the odds the Lions could finish the season with a better record than the Rams, and who would have seen that as a realistic possibility with LA coming off of a Super Bowl victory?
In some ways the Rams draft failures and lack of premiere young talent are a big reason why they sit at 3-6, and the seventh overall selection would almost certainly become the best young player on the team’s roster.
These are the last ten players drafted with the seventh pick:
2022: Evan Neal, OT - Giants
2021: Penei Sewell, OT - Lions
2020: Derrick Brown, DT - Panthers
2019: Josh Allen, EDGE - Jaguars
2018: Josh Allen, QB - Bills
2017: Mike Williams, WR - Chargers
2016: DeForest Buckner, DE - 49ers (now with Colts)
2015: Kevin White, WR - Bears (now with Saints)
2014: Mike Evans, WR - Buccaneers
2013: Jonathan Cooper, OG - Cardinals (now with Broncos)
When you think about the struggles Los Angeles has dealt with on the offensive line in 2022, a lineman of Sewell or Neal’s caliber would almost certainly help moving forward.
Receivers like Mike Evans and Mike Williams would be stark improvements over the young pass catchers currently on the Rams’ roster: Van Jefferson, Tutu Atwell, Ben Skowronek, and Lance McCutcheon.
The team’s collapse and escalating value of the 2023 first round selection also increases the cost required to acquire Stafford, and the Rams doubled down on this investment by extending him through 2027 and paying him $40M annually. LA will find it difficult to move on from Stafford until after the 2025 season, and that’s concerning given the state of the franchise at this point.