The Rams are no stranger to quiet first rounds of the NFL Draft — particularly in the last few years.
Sure, Los Angeles traded up to select quarterback Jared Goff at No. 1 overall in 2016. But that created a relatively drama-free first evening of the draft for the franchise. And since the Rams traded their 2017 first-round pick to the Titans for the right to select Goff, last year's opening night was tranquil, too.
The script will largely be the same on April 26, as the Rams traded their first-round pick to the Patriots as part of a deal to acquire wide receiver Brandin Cooks. But this year will at least start out quiet on Friday, too, as Los Angeles dealt its second-round pick to Buffalo last August to acquire wide receiver Sammy Watkins.
At this point, the Rams' first 2018 draft pick doesn't come until No. 87 overall — that's the 23rd pick in the third round. Los Angeles does currently hold eight draft picks, with three in the fourth round, and four in the sixth. All the late-round picks prompted general manger Les Snead to joke with the media last week, "Yeah, we're going to give up all our sixes for somebody's first."
But not having a pick until No. 87 does change the way the club approaches the draft. Realistically, it has to.
"I found it easy when we're doing draft meetings now," Snead said. "[L]et's just say we're [looking at] position A. You say, 'Look, if these four or five players, if they fall guess what we're picking them.' They're not falling to 87, so now we go, 'Alright, let's focus on the ones that are really realistic in that part of the draft, especially in the third and the three fourths."
One factor that helps in drafting players in that range is the clarity the coaching staff and personnel staff have in what a fit looks like for the Rams on offense, defense, and special teams.
"We know what we're looking for and then we just have to sit down," Snead said. "Because I think when you're specific with your fits in what you're looking for, you can manage — especially those in that subset of picks — and try to find four contributors in that area."
The Rams did go through a somewhat similar process last year and were successful with it. As Snead pointed out, L.A. drafted a pair of starters in wide receiver Cooper Kupp and safety John Johnson III. It won't necessarily be easy, but the Rams would like to replicate that kind of success in 2018.
"I think we really have to scrutinize the players that are going to be in and around that third round pick and early fourth rounders and make sure we make the most out of them," Snead said. "Historically, you can. Last year we got Cooper Kupp and John Johnson in the third round. You'd love to repeat that. Hard to do sometimes, but that will be the goal and you have to really take advantage of those slots and make it work."