THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Rams general manager Les Snead met with local and national media Wednesday to discuss how the team's Super Bowl LVI roster was constructed.
Here are some of the highlights and key takeaways from that conversation:
Don't forget about the mid- and late-round draft picks' contributions
Players like quarterback Matthew Stafford, wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and outside linebacker Von Miller are receiving deserved credit for their impact on the Rams' playoff run – "I get it, we're in the entertainment business," Snead said – but it would be a "shallow story" to only acknowledge their contributions.
"We couldn't have the team that we have without the draft and those young players at different times, right?" Snead said. "Whether it was (defensive lineman) Sebastian Joseph-Day to start the season, (defensive lineman) Greg Gaines to finish it. Marquise Copeland to come in there, sometime after we had the COVID outbreak, and continue playing. Whether it's Robert Rochell, David Long, whether it's Troy Reeder, you know, T-Howard (linebacker Travin Howard) over the last couple of weeks, (outside linebacker) Ogbo (Okoronkwo), (safety) Nick Scott. ... It's probably not talked about enough."
Howard and Scott were seventh-round picks, Joseph-Day a sixth-round pick, Okoronkwo a fifth-round pick, Gaines and Rochell fourth-round picks, Long a third-round pick pick, Copeland and Reeder 2019 undrafted free agent signees.
Something to remember when this year's draft comes around in the spring.
The breakthrough in the evolution of the team-building model
Retracing the steps of building the Rams into what they are today, Snead said the focus when he first got on board as general manager, the initial phase was to acquire as many early picks as possible and draft well and hit on core talent like defensive lineman Aaron Donald.
Now, of course, that's the opposite approach with the Rams not scheduled to make a first-round pick until 2024.
Snead admitted there was some uncertainty and whether they would ever break through. So what was key moment that switched them to the current phase in their build?
"We had some adversity along the way with the QB thing, but once we finally broke through at that point in time, I do think in terms of the model, you probably have a good awareness that, okay, this model is working, right, it's allowing us to win games, it's allowing us to consistently contend for the NFC West," Snead said.
In position to contend in the years to come
Those acquisitions of Stafford, Beckham and Miller prompted a reporter to ask Snead if the Rams will continue to operate that way moving forward.
Snead thinks so based on the core talent they currently have.
"We really, really think we have the core, the base in place, to continue being a contender for the NFC West – not only this year, not only next year, but into some years to come," Snead said. "We will always utilize whatever wanner that's available to acquire players to help us stay in and continue to consistently be contenders.
However, that also includes using their draft picks "in an innovative and creative way," whether using to actually select players or trade them – like sending a fourth-round pick to the Patriots for running back Sony Michel.