It may come as a quick decision, but general manager Les Snead says the Rams have a plan for when they are on the clock at No. 31 on Thursday night. Without giving away any secrets, Snead told the Los Angeles media on Tuesday that the decision depends on who's available as the draft's opening round runs late.
"I think first and foremost, we have to be prepared to pick at [No.] 31. If your choice was to trade back, you've got to have a partner and there's no guarantee in that. I think that's first and foremost. Again, a lot depends on — I don't think I'm smart enough to figure out who falls to 31, so you could be guns a blazing to trade back, but [if] somebody falls to 31, that maybe puts a governor on that thought," Snead said.
Trading to move in either direction isn't out of the realm of possibility for the Rams, who sent a pair of first-round picks to Tennessee as part of the package to secure a franchise quarterback in Jared Goff at No. 1 overall in 2016, and then traded their No. 23-overall pick in 2018 for wide receiver Brandin Cooks.
Between the two, a move backwards out of the first round in 2019 could make more sense, considering the Rams are currently without a second-round pick and are facing question marks or youthful starters on both the offensive and defensive lines heading into next season.
Snead discussed the value of possibly obtaining mid round picks on Tuesday afternoon — the players that fall through the cracks, or fit one scheme better than another.
"The way we painted the picture – if you trade back, can you get an extra player like a [WR] Cooper Kupp, a [S] John Johnson, a [T] Joseph Noteboom, [C] Brian Allen, a [WR] Josh Reynolds — some guys that we've gotten in the third and fourth — [OLB] Samson Ebukam, [DL] John Franklin-Myers," Snead said. "The key there is those are people who had a role here and it's up to us if we do that, to still draft right and develop right."
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No. 31 is uncharted waters for the Rams, who won't be just be picking in the opening round for the first time in a long time on Thursday, they will be picking in the late first round for the first time since taking linebacker Alec Ogletree at No. 30 in 2013.
The late-first-round option has Snead's staff not wasting any time. They are looking at the "realistic" options that could slide to the range of the regular season's top finishers.
Sitting next to Snead at the Rams practice facility in Thousand Oaks, Calif., head coach Sean McVay waived any notion that he was eager about his first chance at a top-32 pick as head coach. Confident in Snead and the scouts, his Super Bowl-stamped system, or some combination of the two, McVay wasn't too hung up on where in the draft order the next addition to his team comes from.
"Whether it's first, second, third, it really doesn't matter," McVay added. "There's going to a lot of quality players that we find in this draft, like the last couple, that are going to be key contributors."