Every year, teams across the NFL hold pre-draft press conferences — usually with club's head coach and general manager.
And every year, head coaches and general mangers decline to give many specifics about their draft plans.
There's good reason for this. As GM Les Snead put it during the Rams' pre-draft presser on Tuesday, "As I called the other 31 teams 'the enemy,' I'm not sure [if] they are listening to this press conference or not, but I don't think we're going to let them know exactly what we're looking at."
Fair enough, though Snead did add, "I think all of you have common sense and can figure out maybe where we're going with that."
Though the 2018 NFL Draft begins on Thursday, the Rams — in all likelihood — will not have a selection in the first round for the second year in a row. But unlike 2017, L.A. isn't slated to have a pick in the second round either.
Check out photos of the Los Angeles Rams during the offseason program.
Given that, Snead adamantly wanted to give credit to those behind the scenes in the personnel staff — specifically shouting out senior personnel executive Brian Xanders, senior personnel advisor Taylor Morton, director of college scouting Brad Holmes, director of Draft Management JW Jordan, assistant director of college scouting Ted Monago, and national scout Marty Barrett — for their work in draft preparation.
"[T]hat's what I want you to remember today of anything," Snead said. "Yes, it is different, but the preparation is the same and those guys don't get mentioned a lot. They deserve a ton of credit for making this thing work."
"Really can't say enough about Les and his leadership that he's provided, with his staff, to be able to be as diligent as they've been with regards to the draft preparation," head coach Sean McVay said. "Then the coaches being involved in that, they've made it really seamless especially just for myself being able to tailor it down and get guys tiered to where we have a very specific, sequential approach that we want to take at that third-round pick, with some of the things in the fourth and then leading into the sixth-round picks that we have."
Los Angeles currently holds picks at No. 87 in the third round; No. 111, No. 135, and No. 136 in the fourth round; and No. 176, No. 183, No. 194, and No. 195 in the sixth round. Snead said the club isn't necessarily trying to target "needs" at certain positions, but instead pick up players to fill out roles on the roster — whether that's on offense, defense, or special teams.
"What you do try to do is line the players up and you focus on some that definitely can come in and fill that role immediately based on their physical traits, their football acumen, and all those things. It depends on what you're looking for," Snead said, adding once the draft reaches the third and fourth rounds, it's harder to be definitive about one player being better than the next. "Usually they are of similar ability and at that point in time you might go to the player that fills a role better than the others."
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"You look at even yesterday we're sitting there playing our different scenarios and part of that decision making entails, how does this person fit into the situation that we already have in place? What would their role be if things work out the way we kind of see them fitting into what would be defense, offense, or special teams?" McVay said. "That kind of helps us tier it off and figure out what would be the best fit for the Rams at those picks."
In some ways, wide receiver Brandin Cooks is effectively the Rams first-round pick in 2017 since the club shipped No. 23 overall to the Patriots a part of the deal to acquire him. And that is just fine with McVay, who said he has no problem being without a first-round pick for his second year as a head coach.
"I think you guys know how we felt about it, but I think when you take all things into consideration, what we were able to acquire for what we were giving up, we felt really strong about it. We feel really good about Brandin Cooks," McVay said, joking, "If you told me we would get a player like that at No. 23, I would be throwing a pool party — and I don't even have a pool."
"As Sean said, to be able to say at No. 23 you can get a proven receiver that fits a scheme, fills a role for us — we felt was very important," Snead said.
There is always the possibility the Rams could trade up to select a player they really want. But don't necessarily expect a trade up too high.
"[I]f you move from 87 to 45 it takes some ammo," Snead said. "Now I think the more realistic thing is all of a sudden the guys fall into, let's call it, late 60s, 70s and things like that — then you start looking at those opportunities."
Either way, there's no way to truly know who's going to be available at No. 87 until midway through the proceedings on Friday evening.
"I like to call the other 31 teams the enemy. You never know what the enemy is going to do so they do have a say," Snead said. "But we feel like we — at certain positions and all that — will really focus on that part of the draft. And excited for it to get here."