Everyone agrees with that? Costs.
The value of next year’s first-round pick is still TBD, but even if Los Angeles goes 0-17 and gives the Lions the best overall selection of 2023, I think we’d all re-sign for this deal – especially considering the escalating price points for elite quarters.
The Rams are also running out of picks 64 and 96 this week following the acquisition of Von Miller from Denver. The Lombardi wouldn’t reside in Los Angeles without Miller playing at the highest level of any defensive player in the NFL playoffs, so while his short tenure with the team stings, no regrets. Also, consider that the Rams are set to recoup capital coming out of the third round via the compensation formula in 2023 thanks to the $51 million guaranteed by Buffalo’s Miller.
As for day three, the Rams sent this year’s fourth-round pick to Houston with Brandin Cooks (turning the 2020 pick 57 into Van Jefferson along the way).
Their sixth round of 2022 is now in the New England closet as part of the trade for Sony Michel’s Hammer last season. Few people were more responsible for the Rams’ turnaround in December than Michel.
And the Rams won Miami’s seventh thanks to the trade of Aqib Talib. That’s the highest LA is expected to draft in any round, for what it’s worth!
The end result for this year is five of the seven standard picks traded, and six more added to the mix through other means, for a total of eight before Thursday.
Thank you for supporting me throughout this exercise.
Which brings us to this recent quote from Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah.
“I think the volume (of draft picks) matters,” he said. “But whatever board people use, there’s no seventh-round pick that can match the value of that first-round pick.”
It caught my attention, in part, because this new coaching staff has Rams roots and I wish them well. But also because I agree – and I have a feeling LA brass would too – with the elements of his commentary.
(1) Volume matters: see analysis above. For all of the Rams’ perception of “F (reewheel)ing them picks,” they’ve actually recruited far more players than the league average lately and are expected to do so again in 2022.
(2) There is no satisfactory exchange rate between the sevenths and the firsts: of course, there is none. And that also goes for sixths, fifths, fourths, etc.
The main reason the Rams’ whole model works is because they drafted a 13-overall GOAT in 2014! Without the most dominant defensive player on the planet, the structure probably would have crumbled by now.
But where the Rams held a first-mover advantage was in moving away from a myopic mindset about how to deploy first-round capital: namely, picking college players.
From the Rams’ perspective, they’ve actually made a lot of big selections on Thursdays every year since 2016. And they’ll do it again this week. And next year too.
It’s just that they chose the more expensive and reliable main production of (former first-round picks) Brandin Cooks, Jalen Ramsey and Matthew Stafford over the more economical potential of Isaiah Wynn, K’Lavon Chaisson and Travis Etienne. .
In a strict salary cap environment, I am well aware that the puzzle is much more complex than the one presented here. But I would also say that it’s nigh impossible to quantify the value of exclusive trading rights with players like Ramsey and Stafford (and Cooks, even if it hasn’t quite played out in the long run like everyone else had hoped).
I’ll even take a look at first-round trades on draft day 2019. The Rams offered Atlanta the 31st pick in exchange for 45 and 79 overall. Then LA effectively turned those tokens into David Long Jr., Taylor Rapp, Bobby Evans, Greg Gaines, and Nick Scott.
Volume matters, remember?
Even without the Lombardi Trophy (which instantly validates all this), the “first free” strategy has held up well.
In terms of need, you don’t need me to tell you that the corner, the edge and the offensive line – the guard in particular – have gaps to fill.
But following the Rams’ overall project strategy, their model is to plan ahead. This means that there is often a connection between the positions they take over in the spring of a year and the players who are on the verge of becoming free agents 10 months later. (See: Bobby Brown III in anticipation of the departure of Sebastian Joseph-Day or Brycen Hopkins for Gerald Everett or Terrell Burgess and Jordan Fuller for John Johnson.)
In 2022, notable starters entering the final year of their contract include defensive tackles Greg Gaines and A’Shawn Robinson; offensive tackles Rob Havenstein and Bobby Evans; safeties Taylor Rapp and Nick Scott; offensive guard David Edwards; running back Darrell Henderson Jr. and corner David Long, Jr.
It is always possible that a contract extension could compensate for a future need. But in broad terms, after a year-long hiatus from drafting an offensive lineman, I would expect that streak to end soon enough. It almost always makes sense to charge at corner and skill positions. And I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Rams walk away with an addition to what now looks like a crowded safe room.
While we’re all eager to meet the new Rams, last year’s draft class is expected to have the biggest impact on the 2022 season.
Here’s a quick look at the “redshirt freshman” and what reasonable hopes might be for their sophomore season.
WR Tutu Atwell (2nd round): gadget complement to the starting body of Cooper Kupp, Allen Robinson II and Van Jefferson. Active on match days.
LB Ernest Jones (3rd round): Holder alongside Bobby Wagner.