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Is Les Snead really a draft day risk taker?

History shows he sticks close to the NFL herd

NFL: Super Bowl LVI-Los Angeles Rams Championship Parade
For all the “F%#& them picks” bluster, Les Snead follows the NFL draft crowd
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Much was made of the Los Angeles Rams 2023 draft. Again for the sixth straight year, L.A. didn’t have a Round 1 pick, but General Manager Les Snead was able to parlay what capital they did possess into 14 selections. That number was the second-most in NFL history, at least since going to seven rounds in 1994, bested only by the Minnesota Vikings 15 in 2020.

Snead’s been around for 12 Rams drafts now. long enough to see if any major patterns show. The fact is, over his tenure, nothing really stands out to tip off what he and the rest of the scouts might consider their “go to” areas or college programs. In fact, his draft past is very similar to the rest of NFL tendencies.

It’s the Power 5 conferences all the way and the Southeastern Conference (SEC) is the big daddy, supplying around 21% of NFL players, followed by the Big 10 around 15%, the Atlantic Coast (ACC) at 12%, Pac 12 about the same, with the Big 12 bringing up the rear at 9%.

For the Rams since the 2012 draft, Snead has dipped into the SEC for 22% of draftees, the Big 10 has provided 13%, the ACC 14.5%, and the Big 12 lands at 12%. Strangely, L.A. has not partaken of the Pac 12 as much as the rest of the NFL, only a bit over 6%. Particularly since the move back to Los Angeles, it might seem that the Rams should/would have a better handle on West Coast talent and more late round (read bottom of the roster) conscripts. Actually, the Rams have found nearly as many draftees in a non-Power 5 conference, the American Athletic at 5.5%.

Here’s a review of how, under Snead’s leadership, the Rams have drafted conference wise, the respective players, and their college team.

NFL: DEC 25 Broncos at Rams
Ernest Jones leads a group of nine SEC draftees in the last three years
Photo by Jordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

SEC (24) - OL Rokevious Watkins (SCar), DT Michael Brockers (LSU), RB Zac Stacy (Vandy), OL Barrett Jones (Bama), LB Alec Ogletree (GA), DB E.J. Gaines (Mizzou), DE Michael Sam (Mizzou), RB Trey Mason (Aub), OL Greg Robinson (Aub), WR Bud Sasser (Mizzou), RB Todd Gurley (GA), LB Josh Forrest (Ken), WR Pharoh Cooper (SCar), WR Josh Reynolds (TxAM), RB John Kelly (Ten), LB Terrell Lewis (Bama), WR Van Jefferson (Fla), DT Bobby Brown (TexAM), LB Ernest Jones (SCar), DB Derion Kendrick (GA), RB Zach Evans (Miss), OL Warren McClendon (GA), QB Stetson Bennett (GA), DE Byron Young (Ten)

ACC (16) - WR Chris Givens (WF), DB Brandon McGee (MIA), DB Lamarcus Joyner (FlaSt), DT Aaron Donald (Pitt), OL Jamon Brown (Lou), DE Ejuan Price (Pitt), RB Sam Rogers (VaTech), DB John Johnson (BosCol), DE Trevon Young (Lou), LB Micah Kiser (VA), OL Tremayne Anchrum (Clem), RB Cam Akers (FlaSt), RB Jake Funk (Mary), WR Tutu Atwell (Lou), TE Davis Allen (Clem), DT Kobie Turner (WF)

Big 10 (14) - DB C.B. Bryant (OhSt), OL Andrew Donnal (IA), OL Rob Havenstein (Wisc), DT Sebastian Joseph-Day (Rut), OL Brian Allen (MichSt), DB Nick Scott (PennSt), OL David Edwards (Wisc), DB David Long (Mich), DB Jordan Fuller (OhSt), TE Brycen Hopkins (Pur), DE Earnest Brown (NW), OL A.J. Arcuri (MichSt), OL Logan Bruss (Wisc), DE Ochaun Mathis (Neb)

Big 12 (13) - WR Steadman Bailey (WVa), WR Tavon Austin (WVa), LB Bryce Hager (Bay), LB Travin Howard (TCU), LB Ogbonnia Okoronkwo (OK), OL Joseph Noteboom (TCU), LB Dakota Allen (TxTech), OL Bobby Evans (OK), LB Clay Johnston (Bay), DB Russ Yeast (KanSt), DB Jason Taylor (OK St), DB Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson (TCU), OL Steve Avila (TCU)

Pac 12 (7) - DB T.J. McDonald (USC), QB Sean Mannion (OrSt), QB Jared Goff (Cal), DT Greg Gaines (WA), DB Taylor Rapp (WA), DB Terrell Burgess (UT), DB Quentin Lake (UCLA),

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Kansas City Chiefs
Will Quentin Lake and Robert Rochell lead the Rams secondary in 2023?
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

American Athletic (6) - QB Garrett Gilbert (SMU), DE Martin Efedi (Mem), DT Tanzel Smart (Tul), DE Justin Lawler (SMU), RB Darrell Henderson (Mem), TE Jacob Harris (CFla),

Big Sky (5) - CB Trumaine Johnson (Mon), OL Mitchell Van Dyk (PortSt), LB Samson Ebukam (EWash), WR Cooper Kupp (EWash), DE Daniel Hardy (MonSt)

Division 2 (3) - K Greg Zuerlein (MizzouW), DE Chris Garrett (ConStP), P Ethan Evans (Win)

Independents (3) - WR Bennett Skowronek (ND), RB Kyren Willams (ND), WR Puka Nacua (BYU)

Mountain West (3) - LB Aaron Brown (Haw), DB Maurice Alexander (UtSt), OL Cody Wichmann (FresSt),

Southland (3) - RB Darryl Richardson (AbChr), DT John Franklin-Myers (SFAus), DB Robert Rochell (CArk)

Sunbelt (2) - TE Gerald Everett (SBama) , LB Nick Hampton (AppSt)

Mid-American (2) - K Sam Sloman (MiaOH), DT Desjuan Johnson (Tol),

USA (2) - WR Mike Thomas (SMiss), TE Tyler Higbee (WKen),

Mid-Eastern Atlantic (2) - TE Temarrick Hemingway (SCarSt), CB DeCobie Durant (SCarSt)

Colonial Athletic (1) - OL Jamil Demby (Maine)

Ohio Valley (1) - OL Demetrius Rhaney (TennSt)

Southern (1) - WR Brian Quick (AppSt)

Big East (1) - RB Isiah Pead (Cin)

Gulf South (1) - DB Janoris Jenkins (NBama)

St Louis Rams v Arizona Cardinals
The Rams drafted Jackrabbit back in 2012
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Any individual college programs stand out?

Not really. Snead has spread the Rams money all over the nation. Georgia leads with five players, Texas Christian has proffered four, interestingly all since 2018, and three each from Louisville, South Carolina, Wisconsin (all linemen), Michigan State and Ohio State. The other 45% of draftees come from a myriad of schools with two drafted players or less.

As for individual college coaches, no real trends there, either. As close as it gets is Snead taking three Georgia Bulldogs in the past two seasons and signing a handful of undrafted free agents over the past few. Mining Kirby Smart’s prospects does seem like a no-brainer. Maybe you could make a small case for TCU, but since 2018 they’ve had two coaches, Gary Patterson and Sonny Dykes, with totally different philosophies.

Love Snead and his picks or hate them, his drafting strategy is not that of free-wheelin’, riverboat gambler. He may wheel and deal with the picks, but when it comes to player selection he sticks pretty close to the NFL standards.