Go behind the scenes of the Rams' 2018 Draft by viewing photos from the team's Draft war room.
It's about 15 minutes before the start of the 2018 NFL Draft — 4:45 pacific, 6:45 in Dallas where the event is being held. Though the Rams do not have a first-round pick, the club's personnel staff is assembled in the draft room at the team facility at Cal Lutheran to watch everything unfold.
The set up of the draft room is largely the same as it was in 2017. There are four large television screens at the front. The TV on the far left displays the ESPN feed of the draft, and the one on the far right is showing the FOX/NFL Network feed. The middle televisions are reserved for the Rams' draft board. There's a projector screen to the left of the room that displays picks as they happen. And there's a television above the four TVs up front for the official selection clock, displaying the time remaining for each team's pick.
There are three rows of tables in the room for everyone to sit as well. General manager Les Snead and head coach Sean McVay aren't quite in the room yet, but their seats are at the front right. They'll have a good view of both the draft board and the NFL Network feed. EVP of football operations Kevin Demoff and senior assistant Tony Pastoors have taken their seats at the front of the room.
Much of the personnel staff is seated in the second row — folks like senior personnel executive Brian Xanders, senior personnel advisor Taylor Morton, director of draft management JW Jordan, assistant director of college scouting Ted Monago, national scout Marty Barrett, director of Pro Personnel Ray Agnew, and pro scout John McKay. Area scouts and scouting assistants are seated in the third row behind them.
Check out a photo recap of the 11 selections the Rams made in the 2018 NFL Draft.
On Tuesday, Snead had told the media that Thursday night's proceedings may become a fairly casual affair. But at this point the people in the room are dressed in business attire — though they've mostly gone without ties.
At 4:50, Browns head coach Hue Jackson comes on NFL Network. He's being interviewed by reporter Steve Wyche, who asks one last time if Jackson will reveal who Cleveland is planning to select with the No. 1 overall pick. Jackson declines, saying, "Everybody's going to find out exactly what we're going to do in about 35 minutes."
Jackson's response brings out some laughter in what is a pretty quiet room.
A few minutes later, Snead walks in takes his seat at the front of the room. McVay is right behind him. The two men are dressed fairly casually — Snead in a lightweight hoodie and jeans, McVay in a striped button-down shirt and jeans. The two men take their seats and chat for a bit — smiling as they do so.
Snead lightens the mood when he stands up just before the Browns go on the clock and says, "Blame me for those of you in the back all dressed up. You can go casual for the rest of this draft."
Apparently the casual-dress memo wasn't quite passed on to everyone.
"On a positive note, you guys do look nice," McVay says with a grin.
"Other than that, hell of a job this year," Snead says.
At that point, the Browns are on the clock and the draft is off.
As the picks come through, it's one man's responsibility to announce them to the room. This year, that job belongs to scouting assistant Chance Trickett.
He's on headset with the Rams' representatives at the draft table in Dallas — Ben Bloomer of equipment and Zach Kinkeade of community affairs and engagement. At about 5:15, the Browns pick is in and Trickett tells the room: Baker Mayfield, quarterback, Oklahoma.
"It was all that tutoring on the Southwest flight," McVay jokes, referring to when Mayfield sat next to him on the pair's trip to the NFL Combine in February. Snead would use that same material in his press conference with McVay following the conclusion of Round 1.
When Saquon Barkley heads to the Giants at No. 2, NFL Network begins to show a few highlights of the running back's plays at Penn State. One in particular drives McVay to say, "That's a hell of a run there."
As casual as the atmosphere feels, it's a quiet room. So much so that when assistant head coach/linebackers coach Joe Barry drops in around pick No. 4 overall he points it out, saying, "Wow, so quiet in here."
"Focused," McVay replies.
But from the beginning of the draft, it's clear that the Rams will be purely observers on this night. First, the phone never rings. And both McVay and Snead go in and out of the draft room, taking a while to enjoy some sushi together and share a few laughs with a few other coaches in the team's break room.
After dinner, there's one notable pick still to come — No. 23. That's the selection Los Angeles shipped to New England as part of the deal for wide receiver Brandin Cooks.
At about when Dallas comes on the clock at No. 19, ESPN goes off the TV on the left in favor of All-22 film from a New Orleans game against Oakland. At that point, it's unclear why exactly a Saints-Raiders game would be on a television during the draft.
But once the Patriots get on the clock with what was originally the Rams' pick, the tape rolls and it's a deep pass from quarterback Drew Brees to Cooks. Then there's another deep pass from Brees to Cooks, this time against Jacksonville. Then one from New England quarterback Tom Brady to Cooks against Oakland. And another from Brees. And another from Brady. And another. And another.
As Snead revealed to the media following the conclusion of the first round, the Rams got a good look at the player they think of as their first-round pick with a Cooks highlight reel. And it ran from the time the Patriots got on the clock to the time they made their pick — which says something about just how many highlight-worthy receptions Cooks has made since he entered the league in 2014.
As the last few picks trickle in for the first round, Agnew marvels over the Jaguars selection of Florida defensive tackle Taven Bryan.
"Another one?" Agnew says. "That D-line is stacked."
Soon after, Minnesota takes cornerback Mike Hughes, New England selects running back Sony Michel, and Baltimore trades up to No. 32 to select quarterback Lamar Jackson.
"That concludes the first round," Trickett announces.