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Rams must be cautious if they trade back at 36

Rams can’t trade out of talent if they trade back from 36th overall

NFL: Combine Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Rams hold the 36th overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. While they hold 10 selections, most of those picks come in the later stages in the sixth and seventh rounds. There’s a pretty large gap between when the Rams select at 69th overall and when they’re projected to pick again at 136.

In order to close that gap of 67 picks, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Les Snead try to trade back with his first pick at 36. NBC Sports’ Peter King believes this is exactly what Snead and the Rams will do. King said in his Football Morning in America Column,

“The other factor about this team: I expect (Rams) GM Les Snead to trade the Rams’ high second-round pick this year for either two or three picks between the mid-second and fifth rounds. Ideal world, Snead trades his high two for a low two and two fours. If they deal (away Jalen) Ramsey, add a prime pick this year (I project a second-rounder) plus somewhere around a three next year.”

With that being said, Snead and the Rams need to be cautious if they do in fact trade back from the 36th overall pick in order to gain more selections. Gaining more selections is great as it gives you more dart throws at the board. However, they also need to make sure not to trade out of too much talent.

Last season, the Rams finished 5-12. This is a team with a top-heavy roster. Good talent that can help balance that out is very much needed and that’s exactly the type of talent that will be available at the 36th overall pick. The top of the second round is where a handful of players who were expected to go in the first round will end up. If that type of player is available, a trade back might not make the most sense.

The Rams made this exact mistake in 2019.

Read: 5 trade down scenarios for Les Snead

In 2019, the Rams initially held the 31st overall pick after falling in the Super Bowl to the New England Patriots the year prior.

At 31, Snead traded back with the Atlanta Falcons for the 45th and 79th overall selections. Between 31 and 45, players such as Deebo Samuel, Jawaan Taylor, Dalton Risner, and Elgton Jenkins were all selected.

Instead of picking at 45, Snead once again traded back. This time he traded down 11 picks with the Patriots for the 56th and 101st overall selections. Between 45 and 56, the Rams missed out on Erik McCoy, AJ Brown, and Miles Sanders.

Did the Rams finally pick at 56? Nope. Snead once again traded back. The Rams traded down to the 61st overall pick with the Kansas City Chiefs and also acquired the 167th overall selection.

Between the 56th and 61st overall selections, Mecole Hardman and Nasir Adderly were both taken.

With the 61st overall pick, the Rams finally took Taylor Rapp. In exchange for Rapp, the Rams indirectly traded away the opportunity to select the following players:

  • OT Jawaan Taylor (35th overall)
  • WR Deebo Samuel (36th overall)
  • iOL Dalton Risner (41st overall)
  • iOL Elgton Jenkins (44th overall)
  • iOL Erik McCoy (48th overall)
  • WR AJ Brown (51st overall)
  • RB Miles Sanders (53rd overall)
  • WR Mecole Hardman (56th overall)
  • S Nasir Adderly (60th overall)

With the picks that the Rams got in exchange for trading down, they selected cornerback David Long with the 79th overall pick, they traded up four picks from 101 to 97 to take offensive tackle Bobby Evans, The Rams then used the 167th overall pick to move up from 162 to take Greg Gaines at 134.

Further down in the draft, the hit rate becomes a lot lower. Using the Jimmy Johnson value chart, the difference in pick value from 31 (600) to 61 (292) is a difference of over 300 points.

Trading back and accumulating more picks is nice, but you also don’t want to trade yourself out of top-end talent especially at the end of the first round and beginning of the second round.

This isn’t to say that the Rams shouldn’t trade back and attempt to pick up another fourth round selection as King mentions. However, there needs to be a line. After finishing the season 5-12, the Rams absolutely need to be making a pick inside the top-50.

There will be a plethora of good players available when the Rams get on the Rams are on the clock with the 36th overall pick. However, they need to make sure they don’t trade themselves out of that talent.