Inside the draft room: Four trades, four picks on Day 2

This is part two of our three-part Inside the Draft Room series. If you missed part one, you can check it out here.

After trading out of the No. 31 overall pick on Thursday night, the Rams entered the second day of the 2019 NFL Draft with four selections slated for the second and third rounds — No. 45, No. 79, No. 94, and No. 99.

While Los Angeles would end Friday night having selected four players, only one would come from of the four initial positions.

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Even before the Cardinals officially came on the clock at about 4 p.m., general manager Les Snead was fielding a trade proposal in the draft room. And a few minutes after, he provided a clue about what was to come in an interview with therams.com.

"What I do know about this — things happen a little quicker this round than they do last night,” Snead said. “So you get a lot of calls, it’s fast and furious. So looking forward to analyzing what happens when we get to around pick 45, and then seeing if there’s an opportunity to move back and acquire more shots at the basket in the top 100.”

Both Snead and head coach Sean McVay referred to selecting multiple players in the top 100 as one of Los Angeles’ primary objectives in this year’s draft. As Snead put it, Los Angeles had been able to acquire solid, starting-caliber players like wide receiver Cooper Kupp and safety John Johnson in that range recently, and felt they could draft the same kind of quality individuals.

As the beginning of the second round progresses, Snead paces back and forth in the rear of the draft room. There are grease boards in the back of the room, too, and Snead periodically reviews what’s written down on them with senior personnel advisor Taylor Morton and director of college scouting Brad Holmes.

While the phones have been ringing throughout the round, calls begin to come in just as Snead described — fast and furious — once the draft hits No. 40 overall. Snead, head coach Sean McVay, executive vice president of football operations Kevin Demoff, and vice president of football and business administration Tony Pastoors evaluate the proposals as they come in. One particular proposal Pastoors fielded clearly wasn’t going to work, simply based on the faces Snead and McVay make once they hear it.

While there were a couple realistic proposals on the table when the Rams came on the clock at No. 45, New England’s won out. Pastoors called the league to make the swap official, and the Rams acquired No. 56 and No. 101 for No. 45 overall.

This gave the Rams essentially five selections in the top 100 — that is, if you still count No. 101 as one of them since it’s just outside of it. But this is where the Rams’ brass really started to delve into who they wanted to pick.

Snead, McVay, Morton, and Holmes were standing in the middle of the room. They have two key players they like, and they were strategizing on the best way to acquire both of them.

And given how the group has apparently made both players a priority, it’s somewhat surprising that the club trades down at No. 56 to acquire No. 61 and No. 167 from Kansas City. But the Rams (we’d find out, correctly) projected that no other teams would want to select their targeted players. And that gave L.A. another asset to use in a later trade — which they would execute the next day.

With Snead and the Rams continuing to wheel and deal, Snead did tell one caller, “We’re absolutely gonna move around.”

Those in the room were quiet, as there was some understandable nervous energy watching names come off the board in the lead up to No. 61. There was certainly a confidence that the two targets would still be there, based on all the work L.A. had done to prepare for this year’s draft, including looking at the needs of other teams. But as Snead often says, the 31 other “enemies” could foil the Rams’ best-laid plans.

But that doesn’t happen. When the Rams come on the clock, they’re able to get the first priority target: Washington safety Taylor Rapp. Morton comes over to scouting assistant Ryon Lynn — who’s on the headset with Los Angeles’ reps in Nashville — telling him the name for Los Angeles’ first official card of 2019. Lynn has those in Nashville repeat the name back to him, but then hold the card so Snead can dial up the player and give him the news.

As Snead says, “Taylor? This is Les Snead, general manager, Los Angeles Rams,” Morton tells Lynn to have those in Nashville turn the card in.

After three trades back, the Rams officially have their first pick of the 2019 draft at No. 61.

While there is applause as Lynn announces the Rams’ pick to the room, the team is quickly back to work in trying to acquire the second target on the list. Snead, McVay, Pastoors, and Demoff all work the phones to try to trade back up and get a running back who McVay feels has the specific skillset to be the kind of change-of-pace player L.A. hasn’t had with McVay. Some of the trade proposals appear close to being executed, but they’re contingent on the player the trade partner wants not being on the board.

After a couple of potential swaps fall through, the Rams find their dancing partner in the Buccaneers, who agree to send No. 70 to Los Angeles in exchange for No. 94 and No. 99. The trade happens quickly, as L.A. gets on the clock and Morton tells Lynn to have the Nashville reps fill out the card for Darrell Henderson, running back out of Memphis.

Two targets acquired. The room is all smiles as Snead calls Henderson to give him the news.

“This is what you love,” McVay says as Snead dials the phone, knowing he now has an offensive weapon who averaged 8.9 yards per carry in 2017 and 2018 at his disposal.

Since the Rams traded two of their late third-round picks to move up and select Henderson, there isn’t much time before the club is back on the clock at No. 79. Just before the pick happens, Snead and McVay have cornerbacks coach Aubrey Pleasant come into the room — an indication that L.A. is leaning toward his position. Pleasant clearly likes the player, and that’s all the confirmation the room needs — L.A. is picking Michigan cornerback David Long.

Of course, the Rams weren’t quite done on day two — illustrating just how prescient Snead was when he told the earlier team that his club would be moving around. Los Angeles executes one last trade on Friday, giving up No. 101 and No. 133 to acquire No. 97 and No. 162 from New England in order to pick offensive lineman Bobby Evans out of Oklahoma.

Much like the Long choice at No. 79, run game coordinator/offensive line coach Aaron Kromer comes in as L.A. is about to make the pick. And after speaking to Evans on the phone, Kromer is all smiles as he exits the draft room.

“Thanks for the present!” he says, giving out fist bumps to fellow members of the Rams’ staff. “Appreciate the present!”

This is part two of our three-part Inside the Draft Room series. If you missed part one, you can check it out here.

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