The narratives surrounding the Rams were cartoonish at times this season, as they made huge moves to put themselves in a position to win a Super Bowl.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford represents just another massive trade of draft collateral for proven NFL talent in the offseason. It also meant that the Rams, who last had a first-round pick in 2016, wouldn’t have a selection in the first round of the draft until 2024.
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As it became clear the Rams were contenders this season, they continued to accumulate assets, making mid-year moves to acquire wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and edge defender Von Miller — each of whom made key contributions to the team's Super Bowl run.
The memes then took over, so much so that general manager Les Snead wore one of them on a T-shirt to the team’s Super Bowl parade.
Rams GM Les Snead wearing a “F*** them picks” shirt ????????
— PFF (@PFF) February 16, 2022
The Les Snead Method
There’s a real danger of the Rams' strategy being completely misread by franchises looking to emulate it, because it certainly has been by much of the commentary.
Los Angeles may have traded away every first-round pick between 2016 and 2024 and other selections in favor of proven NFL commodities, but the franchise hasn't given everything away. In fact, the Rams backfill their draft so they still end up making as many selections as most teams.
Since Snead arrived as general manager, the team has picked fewer than seven times in a draft just once — making six choices in 2016. They have had the seventh-most draft picks in total over that time, averaging 8.8 selections in the draft with him as general manager.
It isn’t a recent pivot in approach, either. The Rams have drafted nine times in each of the past two drafts despite not having a first-round pick in either. There is a clear and conscious approach of accumulating draft picks to offset what they trade away.
Obviously, a higher pick carries more value, but the Rams believe the proven veteran player they are bringing in makes up for the potential value they are trading away.
While the rest of the league is focused on high-value draft picks and the impact those players can bring, the Rams are focused on the value that can be created by the lower-round picks' contribution.
Los Angeles ranks seventh in the league in percentage of the roster that is home-grown, and some of the team's best players — Aaron Donald, Cooper Kupp — are among them. There is obviously a calculated plan of trading for high-end players at important positions, but the team does not simply trade away all of its draft assets for veterans. What the Rams get from the picks they do make at draft time is a key piece of the overall puzzle.
Is It Sustainable?
This is still an open question. The Rams were said to be all-in for the Super Bowl this season. Whether or not that description is accurate, the bet paid off — they won. If they did actually mortgage the future for this season, the move was a success because they achieved the aim they set out to. They won a championship and will be immortalized in the history books.