From 2016 to 2021, L.A. Rams general manager Les Snead was a part of two trades that involved a pair of quarterbacks, four first round picks, two second round picks, and three third round picks. If he could do it twice before, what’s stopping him from a third blockbuster trade for a quarterback if he gets the opportunity again in 2024? You can be hopeful that it doesn’t happen, but you’d be foolish to think that it couldn’t happen: The Rams trading up for a quarterback in next year’s draft is a legitimate possibility.
Les Snead’s past
First the Rams were involved in helping Washington trade up for Robert Griffin III in 2012, giving up the second overall pick in exchange for picks 6, 39, and two future first rounders.
Four years later, Snead traded picks 15, 43, 45, 76, plus the following year’s first and third round pick, in order to move up for Jared Goff over Carson Wentz. Now the Rams have Wentz, but not Goff. Goff-igure.
Five years after trading up for Goff, Snead included Goff in a package with two first round picks and a third to acquire Matthew Stafford from the Detroit Lions. So in a way, the Rams gave up four first round picks (Goff, 2017, 2022, 2023) and more to get Stafford, it just took five years to do it.
Now that Stafford is the oldest quarterback in the NFC, if not the oldest in the NFL depending on if we count Aaron Rodgers, how could we ignore the possibility that Snead is champing on the bit to do something again?
Rams future draft picks
Now that L.A. has a first round pick to use leading into the draft for the first time since 2019, it’s not unrealistic to say that Snead would consider trading up instead of trading down, as he did five years ago. The Rams are currently slated to pick 14th, but that could go up, down, or sideways in the next two months.
What is looking super unlikely: The Rams picking top-5.
Though that seemed like a possibility a couple months ago, L.A. is 5-6 and they could even lose the rest of their games and potentially not get a top-5 pick. Just last year, the Rams were 5-12 and sent the sixth overall pick to the Lions. With teams like Washington, the Giants, and the Saints left on the schedule, maybe the Rams could win at least seven games.
If L.A. makes the playoffs, all bets are off. Maybe as low as the 20s.
But the Rams were picking 15th when they traded up for Goff, so a dramatic move into the top-3 isn’t out of the realm of possibility. Just this past year, the Texans traded from 12 to 3 in order to select pass rusher Will Anderson.
The Rams hold their original picks in the first, second, third, and fifth, with an extra fifth rounder from the Kevin Dotson trade, which is why the Steelers have their fourth and another pick swap in 2025.
If we’re being salacious, could Snead trade his first rounder in 2024 and first rounder in 2025, with other picks, to move up for a quarterback? How could it be salacious if we’re talking about the one general manager in football who has traded EVERY first round pick he’s had since 2016?
Will anyone trade down?
If there was ever a team for a top-3 team to trade down, then 2024 seems to be it.
Right now, nobody can say with any certainty if the Cardinals will keep Kyler Murray or the Bears will keep Justin Fields, and that seems to include the people who run the Arizona and Chicago organizations. The Bears currently hold the number one pick but only because it comes from the Panthers, so Chicago could win three or four more games and think that Fields is a fine option moving forward at quarterback.
Just like how the Bears traded the 2023 first overall pick to the Panthers, they could choose to repeat history in 2024. Since Chicago holds another early draft pick, they could even entertain trading down outside the top-10 because they know they’ll still get a great prospect with the other pick.
The Cardinals may not want to entertain making a trade of that magnitude with a division rival, but maybe Arizona will win a few more games with Murray back at quarterback for the rest of the season; the Cardinals have a pivotal draft game against the Bears in Week 16.
The only team currently slated in the top-6 that seems destined to draft a quarterback is the New England Patriots. The Commanders could choose to keep Sam Howell, the Giants may not be ready to give up on Daniel Jones and could be interested in seeing more of Tommy DeVito.
If the Rams want to jump over some other teams for a QB, they might be walking into the right draft to do it.
Who are the prospects?
USC’s Caleb Williams and UNC’s Drake Maye are the two prospects who have gotten the most attention in the last year and a half and would likely be the first two selected. Williams playing down the road for the Trojans and making it known that he wants to play for certain franchises, it would seem like a match made in NFL heaven for him to play with the Rams.
And I mean that literally: I think the NFL and Roger Goodell would prefer to have Caleb Williams playing for the Rams than for the Bears or Cardinals.
What's next for Caleb Williams?— Ryan Kartje (@Ryan_Kartje) November 29, 2023
The USC QB tells @latimes that it’s a “game-time decision” whether he’ll declare for the draft, but around Williams, most expect him to head to the NFL, whomever is in position to pick him https://t.co/twv03MvnVu
But this is just a hypothetical scenario with so many more variables that need to be settled before it becomes anything else. If the Patriots get the number one pick, it seems like they would just want to keep Bill Belichick and give Willams the opportunity to start his career with a head coach who won six Super Bowls with a quarterback who many refer to as the greatest of all-time.
However, another QB prospect could have an amazing bowl game and a great combine and find himself in the top-5 discussion with regularity. This year, Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud were considered locks to go that early, but it took some convincing for Anthony Richardson, the fourth overall pick, to get the same recognition.
Three quarterbacks with opportunities to play for a national championship and compete for the Heisman trophy: Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy (probably not a Heisman candidate though), Washington’s Michael Penix, and Oregon’s Bo Nix.
Any of these three quarterbacks could end up as “trade up” bait in April, even if we’re not talking about them as locks for the first round in December.
Will the Rams trade up for a quarterback?
Of course, I can’t say that they will. But nobody can say that they won’t.
And Snead won’t care how many fans want the team to draft an offensive lineman or a defensive player or that Stafford can play another three years. Statements like these couldn’t be more meaningless to Snead and the Rams. Wishes and hopes might as well be dishes and soaps. Snead will not only do what he wants to do, he’ll do what owner Stan Kroenke wants to do, and what the NFL wants the Rams to do...What does the NFL want the Rams to do?
It couldn’t be more obvious since the team moved to L.A.: The NFL wants the Rams to be a spectacle.
And there’s no greater show on draft day than picking a quarterback in the first round. If Snead isn’t given that opportunity by how the Rams finish the season, he may go take it any way he can get it.