The Los Angeles Rams did not have a first round pick in 2017 because they traded it in 2016 to move up for Jared Goff. If the Rams had waited another year for a quarterback, they well could have had the same record in 2016 and ended up with the number five pick in the draft in 2017 with a huge need at quarterback.
The Tennessee Titans had their pick and used it on wide receiver Corey Davis. But if the Rams had just held onto the pick and not drafted a quarterback in 2016, the next quarterback on the board after Mitchell Trubisky went second in 2017 was ... Patrick Mahomes.
This is some revisionist history without question. But perhaps also a great opportunity to think of what to do and what not to do in the draft moving forward because Les Snead has had too many “misses” in recent years and the Chiefs, Eagles wouldn’t be going to the Super Bowl if it weren’t for their “hits”. Not just Patrick Mahomes.
Although he’s been quite a hit.
Key Kansas City Chiefs draft picks
Travis Kelce, 63rd overall in 2013
Was he close to a Rams pick: Not really
It’s hard to believe that Kelce is in his 10th NFL season. The 2013 draft class is one of the worst of the century, with the Rams picking Tavon Austin eighth overall and then grabbing Alec Ogletree 30th overall. St. Louis picked T.J. Mcdonald 71st overall, so Snead and Jeff Fisher would have really had to loved Kelce to move up for him and clearly nobody had any idea how good Travis Kelce was going to be.
Kelce has the second-highest Adjusted Value of any player in the 2013 draft, behind Packers tackle David Bakhtiari, but I have a feeling that he’s the most valuable.
What can Snead learn from Kelce pick:
Tight ends have had immense value in the NFL recently, with Tyler Higbee standing out as the odd man out of the last six starting tight ends to win the Super Bowl: Rob Gronkowski, Zach Ertz, Gronkowski, Kelce, Gronkowski. Now either Kelce or Dallas Goedert, a very good tight end, will win the next Super Bowl.
The Rams have taken their shots at a great tight end in the draft with names like Gerald Everett and Brycen Hopkins, but it’s never too late to keep looking for a Higbee upgrade.
Chris Jones, 36th overall in 2016
Was he close to a Rams pick: He could have been
Many people feel Jones should win the Defensive Player of the Year award and his talents were on display again in the AFC Championship game. To think that Jones could have been paired with Aaron Donald is beyond comprehension but it’s not quite that farfetched.
As mentioned earlier, if the Rams didn’t trade up for Goff in 2016, they would have had more picks. Snead traded picks 15, 43, 45, 76 in the 2016 draft, then a first and third in 2017. Had Snead opted to hold firm with his picks, and if the Rams had a sense of how good Jones could become, the opportunity would have been there to upgrade the William Hayes, Eugene Sims, Ethan Westbrooks roles in 2016 by making a much smaller trade up in the second round.
I know, I know, it’s a dream scenario to avoid trading up for Goff, to draft Chris Jones in 2016, then to draft Mahomes in 2017, but...a team did do that! A team drafted Chris Jones and Patrick Mahomes in back-to-back years! General manager John Dorsey was fired shortly after the 2017 draft, but not because he was bad at drafting. And now Kansas City is going to their third Super Bowl in four years.
What can Snead learn from the 2016 draft:
It isn’t always bad to be aggressive in the draft for a quarterback. K.C. traded up for Mahomes. The Bills traded up for Josh Allen. But the move for Goff felt at the time, and now, like a move up to generate more interest in the team as they were moving from St. Louis to Los Angeles. If the Rams could have been more patient, they obviously had a lot of needs in 2016 and trading four picks in that draft, plus two high picks in the next draft, was a high price to pay. It’s lucky that Sean McVay was landed in 2017 and that the team could acquire so many good players in the coming years, enough to reach two Super Bowls in four years.
Creed Humphrey, 63rd overall in 2021
Was he close to a Rams pick: lol
For all the people who started reading this article and got mad at me because it’s revisionist history... THIS IS THE REVISIONIST DRAFT DECISION THAT YOU BRING UP TO ME ALL THE TIME! So what’s the difference with Mahomes, Jones, and Kelce?
I can’t wait to read the comments.
As you know and mention, the Rams drafted Tutu Atwell seven picks ahead of center Creed Humphrey. Regarded by many as the top center in the 2021 draft, many L.A. fans wanted to see the team pick Humphrey as a way to avoid having to fallback on Brian Allen. The Rams won the Super Bowl with Allen, but Humphrey will be going to his first Super Bowl in 2023.
Interestingly, the Eagles drafted Landon Dickerson in the 2021 second round. Dickerson was also a highly-regarded center, but he’s been playing guard for the Philadelphia Eagles. Not only that, Dickerson made the Pro Bowl in 2022 and while fans of EVERY team bring up Humphrey, nobody talks about Dickerson.
What can Snead learn from the 2021 draft:
Sometimes maybe just do the obvious thing.
Also, it seems like the 2019 draft screwed up the perception of day two receivers. In 2019, names like Deebo Samuel, DK Metcalf, Terry McLaurin, and A.J. Brown entered the league on day two. But in 2020, after Tee Higgins and Michael Pittman (the first two picks of round two), the second round receivers were Laviska Shenault, KJ Hamler, Chase Claypool, Van Jefferson, Denzel Mims. In 2021, Elijah Moore, Rondale Moore, Dee Eskridge, Atwell, and Terrace Marshall went in the second round.
Those two years didn’t seem to be good for that range and yet the Rams picked two of those 10 players.
Key Philadelphia Eagles draft picks
Jalen Hurts, 53rd overall in 2020
Was he close to a Rams pick: Extremely
In 2020, the Rams were obviously open to changing quarterbacks after Jared Goff’s poor first season after signing a long-term contract. It may have shocked people to see the Rams pick a QB in 2020, but any less shocking than trading for Matthew Stafford less than a year after the draft?
Instead of taking that risk though, Snead picked Cam Akers with the 52nd pick as a potential starting replacement to Todd Gurley. Akers was the fourth RB drafted, after Clyde Edwards-Helaire, D’Andre Swift, and Jonathan Taylor. The next three RB draft after him were JK Dobbins, AJ Dillon, and Antonio Gibson.
But the player drafted directly after him was Jalen Hurts. Ironically, Philadelphia did the exact same thing that I just said would have “shocked” Rams fans and that you probably think is “TOO INSANE TO EVEN IMAGINE AS A REALITY!!!” The Eagles drafted Carson Wentz one pick after Goff, they won a Super Bowl a year before Goff got there with L.A., and they extended Wentz the same year as Goff. But they still drafted Hurts as a fallback plan just in case Wentz never got better.
He never returned to form after his 2017 injury and Hurts was developed into the player he is today.
What can Snead learn from the 2020 draft:
It might never be a “wrong time” to draft a quarterback. Certainly, 2023 doesn’t have to be the wrong time. Even though Stafford is signed for four more years, L.A. can’t count on him long-term and if a quarterback falls to them in the second round who they really like, we can’t rule that out. The Eagles didn’t.
Jason Kelce, 191st overall pick in 2011
Was he close to a Rams pick: Not particularly, but Kelce was passed over by everybody a lot of times
Les Snead wasn’t even the GM at the time and this is not a lesson of “Oh darn, the Rams should have drafted Jason Kelce!” I mean, that would be nice, but it’s not a regret of anyone’s. These things happen.
I just want to point out that you can sometimes find Hall of Fame players in the sixth round and that’s the resume that Kelce has built over the last six years especially. In the last six years, Kelce has made five first-team All-Pro lists and he could win his second Super Bowl championship.
What can Snead learn from Jason Kelce:
You never know what you can find with those day three picks. It’s good that the Rams make so many picks on day three, but they haven’t found enough gems in the last six years, especially given how many times Snead does choose in rounds 4-7.
If we’re being really fair and tough, the Rams haven’t made a super awesome pick after the third round since Kevin Greene in 1985. Yes, since Kevin Greene in 1985. Tell me which offensive or defensive player I’m forgetting who was drafted after the third round who has been super amazing for the Rams.
Not a single All-Pro since Greene.
Josh Sweat, 130th overall pick in 2018
Was he close to a Rams pick: Kind of
The Rams picked Brian Allen 111th overall, then John Franklin-Myers 135th overall. Sweat was generating some buzz as an underrated edge rusher out of Florida State and he was eventually picked by the Eagles at 130 in the fourth round.
And there’s always room for more edge rushers.
Sweat has slowly gotten better each season, going from zero sacks to four to six to 7.5 to a career-high 11 sacks and 23 QB hits in 2022. He signed a three-year, $42 million extension in 2021, which expires after the 2024 season. He’s going to be a major bargain in 2023 at $6 million, reason to think that Sweat might push for a new contract or a trade to someone who will pay him.
What can Snead learn from the 2018 draft:
Fans are obsessed with talking about how Snead doesn’t draft enough OL, but at least he picked Logan Bruss last year. He didn’t pick a single edge rusher until Daniel Hardy in round seven. A year before, he only picked Chris Garrett in round seven. Terrell Lewis was a third round bust with a high injury risk. No edge rusher in 2019.
Where are all the edge picks?