After acquiring the No. 1 overall pick in a blockbuster trade with the Titans, general manager Les Snead wouldn’t tip his hand about whom the relocated Los Angeles Rams will select. “There’ll be a lot of suspense,” Snead said Thursday. “That’ll be good for the networks.”
But everyone knows a team doesn’t move up the draft board by giving away the kind of picks package the Rams surrendered unless they’ve targeted a player they consider indispensable. It will be a stunner if he isn’t one of the top two quarterbacks available — Jared Goff of Cal or Carson Wentz of North Dakota State.
To move up from No. 15 overall, the Rams surrendered their first-round pick this year, two second-round choices, a third-rounder and next year’s first- and third-round picks. The Rams also received Tennessee’s fourth- and sixth-round choices in 2017.
So it’s almost inconceivable that a quarterback’s name won’t cross commissioner Roger Goodell’s lips when he announces the first choice April 28 in Chicago.
“We looked at the quarterback market aggressively the past two seasons, so we knew what would be available to us,” Rams coach Jeff Fisher said.
Fisher said discussions with the Titans started at the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis in late February. The teams completed the deal late Wednesday but held off announcing it out of respect to Lakers great Kobe Bryant, who played the final game of his 20-year career that night in Los Angeles.
“We evaluate our roster like everybody else does, and we had a plan,” Fisher said. “Les initiated a conversation with [Titans GM] Jon Robinson. Since then, the conversations have been ongoing. We’ve given up numerous choices, so we’re very excited about this opportunity.”
The trade comes four years after the Rams were involved in another blockbuster deal, sending the No. 2 overall pick to Washington, which chose Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Robert Griffin III of Baylor. Griffin had a spectacular rookie season in 2012, but injuries and ineffectiveness led to his benching and subsequent release this offseason. He signed a two-year deal with the Browns.
The Titans selected Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota with the second overall choice last year. With no need at the position, they had the flexibility to deal away the top choice this year.
“It’s a big decision for the football team,” said Robinson, the Titans’ first-year GM. “It is not often you have the No. 1 pick, and we hope not to be in this position again. But we tried to use that pick as currency to work the draft and maximize our player acquisition.”
Earlier in the offseason, Robinson traded for running back DeMarco Murray. He was underused and unhappy in Philadelphia after signing a whopping free-agent deal once the Cowboys decided not to invest in a big contract.
“In the end, we thought it was a decision that made sense for us to do it,” Robinson said of the trade with the Rams. “There was interest in the pick, and we thought this was the option that made the most sense for us. We think we can really bolster this roster with the picks we now have.”
The Titans have six picks among the top 76 this year — Nos. 15, 33, 43, 45, 64 and 76.
Breaking down the deal
Titans’ draft picks traded to Rams:
1st round (No. 1 overall)
4th round (No. 113)
6th round (No. 177)
Rams’ draft picks traded to Titans:
1st round (15 overall)
1st-rd pick in 2017
3rd-rd pick in 2017
It’s happened before
This is the fifth time the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft has been traded:
Unable to reach a pre-draft deal with Virginia Tech QB Michael Vick, San Diego traded the top pick to the Falcons for the fifth overall pick, a third-round pick in 2001, a second-round pick in 2002 and WR Tim Dwight. Atlanta took Vick at No. 1, and the Chargers selected TCU RB LaDainian Tomlinson at No. 5.
New coach Bill Parcells dealt the top pick to the Rams in return for the sixth overall pick and selections in the third, fourth and seventh rounds. The Rams grabbed Ohio State T Orlando Pace, while the Jets took Virginia LB James Farrior at No. 6.
The expansion Panthers sent the top pick to Cincinnati for the fifth overall pick and the Bengals’ second-round pick (No. 36 overall). The Bengals grabbed Penn State RB Ki-Jana Carter, while Carolina picked Penn State QB Kerry Collins at No. 5.
Atlanta traded the top pick to Indianapolis for a fifth-round pick in 1990, a first-round pick in 1991 and veterans Chris Hinton and Andre Rison. The Colts selected Illinois QB Jeff George at No. 1.