Snead, Fisher Look to 'Stack Good Decisions'

Posted May 8, 2014

Les Snead and Jeff Fisher have placed an empasis on "stacked good decisions" once again this year.

While the vast majority of the media attention surrounding the NFL draft overwhelmingly relates to the first round, the Rams have gained a penchant for acquiring quality and depth well beyond the draft’s opening night. A similar opportunity presents itself this year, as General Manager Les Snead and Head Coach Jeff Fisher have 12 picks at their disposal, including two first-rounders, two sixth-round picks, and four seventh-round selections.

“You’ve got 12 picks; make the most of the opportunity,” Snead said at the Rams’ pre-draft press conference on Tuesday. “That could be using some of your picks to go up and get a guy. It could be trading a pick for a better pick in the future. It could be picking a better player’re going to have picked people before, and you want to look at everybody and say, ‘If we pick this player, what’s his role on this team, the next two or three years,’ and try to make the best choice.”

The track record of the Rams’ leadership team in both drafting and developing talent has been a stellar one, even outside of the first round selections. In the Rams’ two drafts led by Snead and Fisher, the Rams have acquired three current starters on each side of the ball between rounds 2-6, as well as kicker Greg Zuerlein.

Last year’s draft yielded perhaps the most value of the two previous Snead-Fisher drafts, when, in addition to the contributions of first-round picks Tavon Austin and Alec Ogletree, fifth-round running back Zac Stacy assumed the starting role five weeks into the season. Stacy finished the year with 973 rushing yards, the third-most ever by a Rams rookie. Third-round draft choice Stedman Bailey parlayed an early-season special teams opportunity into an enhanced role in the team’s offense during the second half of the season. Rookie safety T.J. McDonald started 10 games after missing time due to injury.

Since arriving in St. Louis in 2012, the Rams’ brass has been patient in its approach to building the roster through the draft, employing the youngest team in the league for each of the past two seasons.  Thanks in part to the Rams’ trade of the second overall pick to Washington in 2012, the Rams have been granted additional opportunities to benefit from that philosophy, as the second overall pick this year represents the final piece in return for that 2012 trade.

“I think it’s important to nail this draft,” Snead said. It probably has nothing to do with the RGIII (Robert Griffin, III) trade. Any draft you want to nail, but we’ve been given some extra shots at the basket. If we can turn those into points, per se, you’ve got a better chance of winning down the line. You definitely want to take advantage of it, but there’s no one draft more important than the other.”

This year’s draft could likely feature additions at multiple positions on each side of the ball. Safety, corner and offensive line upgrades will likely represent an area of focus, but Fisher and Snead remained open to the possibility of bolstering both the receiver position and drafting an additional option at quarterback as a backup to Sam Bradford.

“If the right guy is there to help in a back-up role to Sam, then we’ll make sure we’ve done our due diligence,” Fisher said.

With a pair of first-round picks and 12 draft choices at their disposal, few teams will find themselves in as fortuitous a draft position as St. Louis.

As for how to maximize the quality of an entire draft, Snead maintains a relatively simple philosophy and given the recent track record of the Rams’ general manager, there’s fair reason to expect plenty of quality long after the second and 13th overall picks have been decided.

“I’d say just stack good decisions,” Snead said. “Make them one at a time. Try to stack as many good decisions as possible and there will be a flywheel, there will be a snowball effect and guess what, it’ll turn into good things.”