As much as scouts, GM’s, and owners get ripped for every move they make, they inherently have more knowledge and more experience than fans do. That goes without saying but because they are human and aren’t just looking at the information in front of them, disaster can easily strike on draft day. Whenever there is a front office move these same people will usually learn their lesson after spending time as an analyst and when they are rehired often repeat those same mistakes. Everyone would like to think they’d nail the draft for their team and that they too can be a front office pro. In some cases, that might be true (Cleveland, Jacksonville) because how can some front offices possibly be any worse? Barring a trade, the Rams will not have a pick in the first round but that doesn’t mean that Les Snead and everyone else in the war room won’t be parsing over every player left on their board. Its highly doubtful anyone on the team reads this but just in case here are a few helpful pro tips that will lessen draft day anxiety and prevent the team from doing anything catastrophic.
- Don’t Act Out of Desperation
How many times has a team made a move in the draft purely out of desperation only to have it bite them later? The Jags absolutely had to draft Blaine Gabbert so they traded up from 16 to 11 and he ended up being one of the worst quarterbacks taken in the first round. The Bills traded up to get Sammy Watkins because they were desperate to land a big time receiver and he can’t stay on the field. It’s easy to be Captain Hindsight but sometimes a team makes a move that even in the moment appears dumb. The Browns thought they had to trade a boat load of picks to Minnesota so they can move from four to three and take Trent Richardson. The Vikings had no intention of drafting Richardson but the Browns were spooked anyway. They were so desperate to have their own Adrian Peterson that they got desperate and it tanked their draft that season. The Rams might feel they HAVE to get a first round pick but why sacrifice what would likely be a ton of present and future picks and or a name player? There is no one in this draft that would justify such a move. If a team calls them about trading and offers more picks for the future then at least consider it. Desperation drives teams to do stupid stuff, after all that’s both how Snead mugged Washington for all those picks and how he’d later get mugged by Tennessee.
2. The Team Always Comes First
Everyone believes the Rams have to land a star with their 2nd round pick because they need to re-energize the fan base and fight off the Chargers. Look, the Chargers come ready made with a team that when healthy is fun to watch and has some stars. There is nothing the Rams can do about that. The Chargers might be better next season but its not all about next season. If the Rams draft a receiver that wins the name recognition battle but fails to produce on the field then what was the point? This also means not reaching for a guy like say Juju Smith-Schuster in round two when he will likely be there in round three. Yes, Smith-Schuster went to USC and it would be a great story if he succeeded as a pro and doing so at the Coliseum. That’s all good and would make a great Bill Plaschke article but that shouldn’t be the driving force. What matters is that the Rams draft the guy who would be the best fit for what Sean McVay is trying to do. The Patriots never feel compelled to draft stars because they end up making stars. The Rams can do the same.
3. Character Matters
There is talk that the Rams are looking at running back Joe Mixon in the third round. This is ridiculous at face value because they don’t need another back especially when they could use that third round pick to improve their offensive line or secondary. There’s also the matter of the grave charges surrounding Mixon. Mixon assaulted a woman while at Oklahoma and was suspended for a game for an incident in which he was alleged to have threatened a female parking lot attendant with his car. The Rams have been down this road before and while Mixon isn’t Lawrence Phillips who had far bigger red flags, the Rams have to ask themselves if he’s worth the headache. Drafting Mixon would not only be a desperate star chasing move but one that would create a PR nightmare. The Rams were given praise for drafting Michael Sam because they at least made an effort to allow Sam to break cultural barriers. Yes, it was easy for them to do so with a seventh round pick but Mixon would undo that goodwill. People like to think that character doesn’t matter in pro sports but we’ve seen time and time again that while some players get away with bad behavior eventually it catches up to them and the team.
4. Be Honest with Yourself
This ties into the acting out of desperation. Nobody wants another 4-12 season and certainly doesn’t want another anemic offense. That being said, Snead should take an honest look at his roster and consider just how close they really are to being a contender. When a team isn’t honest with themselves it causes them to reach on a high risk high reward guy because they feel they are one guy away. That’s what happened when the Houston Texans signed Brock Osweiler and what happened when the Jaguars drafted Matt Jones (character matters). The Rams might be tempted to reach for Mixon and pair him with Todd Gurley because it would fulfill the “explosive” mantra that the team has adopted but would that only make them more fun to watch, it wouldn’t yield more wins. Allow this new culture to build organically and don’t try and force them into being a contender. That never works.
5. Don’t Make Moves Just to Save Your Job
It’s no secret that Snead is on the hot seat. He no longer has Jeff Fisher to serve as his scapegoat and human shield anymore. He needs Jared Goff to succeed or that trade will be a major stain on his resume. That being said, he shouldn’t carry that baggage with him into the war room. He’s in a tough spot because of the lack of draft capital but picking #37 isn’t the end of the world. From a free agency standpoint the team mostly did a good job (the Robert Woods contract not withstanding) and they should be able to win an extra two games based on hiring Wade Phillips to run the defense. The biggest mistake he can make is to make moves that at least buy him time. When the team traded for Goff some said that it bought Fisher time because he was developing a rookie quarterback but he couldn’t even make the effort to pretend to do it. Snead shouldn’t let job security guide him in anyway and should just carry out the draft as he would if he had a five year guarantee. He can’t solve all the team’s problems in one draft but if he can solve at two of them then he’ll be around next year when the team will have their first round pick back and he can continue to build on the solid foundation he’s built in the last year.