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Inside the Draft Room: Trading Back and Getting their Targets

Check out photos from inside the Rams' war room on Day 2 of the 2017 NFL Draft.

After functioning largely as spectators on the first night of the 2017 NFL Draft, the Rams figured to be a heavy player on the second — particularly because of the club's early second-round pick.

General manager Les Snead would tell the media at the end of the night he anticipated teams trying to move up given his previous experience. And with the Rams carrying the fifth pick of the night — No. 37 overall — there were surely clubs that had identified a target for the late 30s.

And so about 10 minutes before the second round is set to begin, Snead, EVP of football operations Kevin Demoff, and senior assistant Tony Pastoors are engaged in a discussion about potential trades. After a few minutes, Snead returns to his seat next to head coach Sean McVay, filling him in. A smile comes across McVay's face. At some point soon, he'll make his first phone call welcoming a drafted player to Los Angeles.

It's 4:04 pacific when NFL commissioner Roger Goodell comes on the TV screen and asks the Philadelphia crowd for a moment before they continue booing, eliciting some laughter from the Rams' draft room. That cuts through some of the nervous energy between the four walls. The selections haven't started, but it's certainly more tense than it was on Thursday night.

Once the Packers are on the clock at No. 33, the phones begin to ring — just as Snead expected. Many of the calls go to Demoff or Pastoors, which means Snead and McVay are probably wearing out the patch of carpet between the tables as they go to hear details.

Seattle's pick comes in at No. 35, and two minutes later, scouting assistant Michael Pierce — on headset with the Rams' representatives at the draft in Philadelphia — tells the room Arizona has traded with Chicago to move up to No. 36. Snead and McVay both get out of their seats, eager to hear details.

Pierce announces the pick — Washington safety Budda Baker — and the Rams are on the clock. Will they make a pick?

Clearly, the answer is no. Snead gets on the phone — with the Bills, as we'll all soon find out — and says, "OK, let's do it." From there, Pastoors calls the league to make the deal official. At that point, McVay comes over to Pierce, confirming that there will be a trade. Pierce tells those in Philadelphia there's no need to turn in a card.

"I think they're going to pick Zay," McVay says. And he's right — Buffalo selects East Carolina wide receiver Zay Jones.

And now the waiting game begins. L.A. gained an extra third round pick by trading No. 37 and No. 149 for No. 44 and No. 91, but there are seven more picks before the club can select its first player of this draft.

In that time, there are plenty of conversations — both in the room and on the phone. Snead is fielding calls and messages, but also asks Jake Temme of the Rams data and analytics department — better known as the “Nerd’s Nest” — to come over for discussion.

The phones in the room continue to ring, particularly as the picks reach No. 43. "What's Philly waiting for?" jokes an eager McVay. It seems like there are options on the table once the Rams come on the clock. But then the decision is made: The Rams aren't trading the pick.

At that point, Rams director of Player Personnel Taylor Morton comes over to Pierce and gives him the name: Gerald Everett, tight end, South Alabama.

Pierce relays the information over to Philadelphia, where the representatives get the card ready. At the same time, Snead dials Everett's number form the draft room's land line. Everett answers, Snead lets him know who's calling, and Morton motions it's time to turn the card in.

The Rams have a new tight end.

"I think he's going to be a great compliment to a room that's already full with some great young players," tight ends coach Shane Waldron says just after the phone call. "I think he's got wiggle and that natural ability at the top of the route to separate. And then with the ball in his hands, he can make people miss and he can break tackles and create yards on his own — which is an important part."

There are handshakes, back slaps, and bro hugs abound. McVay comes to the back of the room, congratulating one of the club's area scouts. Everyone seems pleased to have their desired target plus another third rounder after the trade back.

The draft room slows down for a bit from there, with the Rams next pick not coming until the top of the following round. At about 6:30, when it begins, the phone rings. Demoff answers, telling whoever is on the other end, "We can try" — presumably to make a trade. But nothing comes of it.

At this point, Snead is spending plenty of time with director of college scouting, Brad Holmes. Holmes' seat is just behind Snead's and next to Morton's in the draft room, so there's a lot of moving back and forth between the two rows.

When the Rams are on the clock, there's still discussion going on between the decision-makers in the front row, perhaps about a potential trade. But with 1:40 left for the club to make its selection, Morton tells Pierce to have the representatives in Philadelphia turn in the card: Cooper Kupp, wide receiver, Eastern Washington.

On the phone, Snead asks Kupp, "You want to be a Los Angeles Ram?"

"Man, nothing would make me happier," Kupp replies.

About a half hour later, with Los Angeles' extra third-round pick from Buffalo about 10 selections away, most of the team's defensive staff enters the draft room — coordinator Wade Phillips, assistant head coach/linebackers coach Joe Barry, cornerbacks coach Aubrey Pleasant, and safeties coach Ejiro Evero. It's a pretty clear indication the Rams are planning to go defense with their third pick of the night.

The discussion between the coaches and those in personnel goes on for a half-hour, with everyone paying close attention to who comes off the board. But the Rams nevertheless get their target, John Johnson, a safety from Boston College.

Phillips gets on Johnson's draft call after McVay and tells him, "We really love the way you play."

"Talk about a player that is very tough — very physical for a converted corner. Has very good coverage skills because he's a converted safety. And a great above-the-neck player," Evero says after speaking to Johnson himself. "We're really excited to get him here and get him competing with us."

Speaking to the media after the conclusion of the third round, McVay said the Rams "know we got better with three spots."

But there would be plenty more work to do the next day. And with quick turnaround, too. Snead and McVay's press conference ended just after 9 p.m. Day 3's events were set to begin 12 hours later.

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