Les Snead is in his eighth season as general manager of the Los Angeles Rams.
Snead’s tenure has been marked by strategic, aggressive moves that has created a strong core nucleus of talent and improved depth throughout the roster. Snead set his philosophy in motion just days after his hiring and has continued through the 2019 NFL Draft.
After guiding the organization through the building and breakthrough process of constructing the Rams roster, Snead and the Rams are now thriving in the contention phase of NFL roster building.
L.A. went without a first-round draft pick for the third-straight season in the 2019 NFL Draft after acquiring talent and beginning to reward the Rams core-nucleolus with long-term contracts.
Since being named general manager, Snead has orchestrated 48 trades, which is the seventh-most in the NFL since 2012. The Rams have selected 63 players in the NFL Draft under Snead, six of which have been named All-Pro, which is tied for the most drafted All-Pro selections since 2012.
Prior to the start of the 2018 season, L.A. rewarded two former first-round picks in DT Aaron Donald and RB Todd Gurley II with long-term contracts, making both Donald and Gurley the highest paid players at their positions following a 2017 season where they won Associated Press Defensive and Offensive Player of the year accolades, respectively.
The Rams made six trades in the 2019 NFL Draft, including a trade out of the first round to acquire additional draft capital. L.A. used its first pick of the draft to select S Taylor Rapp out of Washington in the second round (No. 61 overall), before making three selections in the third round. L.A. finished with eight total draft picks in this year’s draft, including four offensive and four defensive players, with four selections in the top-100 picks of the draft.
Snead took a different approach to the 2018 offseason compared to previous years, making trades to acquire players, in addition to making trades to bolster draft capital. From the start of the new league year on March 14 through the completion of the 2018 NFL Draft, Snead and his personnel department executed 11 trades, which resulted in the acquisition of players such as CBs Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib, and WR Brandin Cooks. Additionally, the Rams were able to land coveted free agent DT Ndamukong Suh.
In the 2018 draft, Snead orchestrated a draft that netted the Rams 11 players, despite not having a pick in the first two rounds. L.A. used its first two picks on offensive linemen picking T Joseph Noteboom (No. 89 overall) out of TCU and C Brian Allen (No. 111 overall) from Michigan State. The Rams used seven of the remaining nine selections to bolster depth along the defensive front. All 11 2018 draft picks were on the roster entering the 2019 offseason program.
From 2012-2017, Snead made 52 selections in the NFL Draft, with 11 percent (six players) of those selections going on to earn All-Pro honors, the most in the league during that time frame. Snead’s draft choices include back-to-back Associated Press Rookie of the Year honorees in Donald (2014 Defensive Rookie of the Year) and Gurley (2015 Offensive Rookie of the Year). Both of whom went on the earn AP Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year honors following the 2017 season.
The Rams have reaped early dividends from many of Snead’s initial selections, particularly in the early rounds. Of the 13 players Snead selected in the first or second rounds of his first four drafts, seven were named to the Pro Football Writers of America All-Rookie Team following their first season. In total, 10 players drafted by Snead have made an All-Rookie Team.
Despite not owning a first-round selection for just the seventh time in franchise history, Snead was more active in free agency during the 2017 offseason to supplement the young talent accumulated through the draft on the Rams roster with a veteran presence. The first moves made by Snead with Head Coach Sean McVay were the signings of Pro Bowl T Andrew Whitworth and WR Robert Woods.
In the 2017 NFL Draft, Snead and company maneuvered trades to select TE Gerald Everett (No. 44 overall) out of the University of South Alabama. The Rams used three of their first four selections on pass catchers, selecting WR Cooper Kupp (No. 69 overall) out of Eastern Washington and WR Josh Reynolds (No. 117 overall), in addition to S John Johnson III with the second of two third round selections (No. 91 overall). As a group, the 2017 draft class started 26 games as rookies, led by Johnson who started 11 games at safety. The 2017 rookie class was highlighted by Kupp being named to the PFWA All-Rookie Team.
The 2016 season kicked off with a blockbuster pre-draft trade from No. 15 overall to No. 1 overall with the Tennessee Titans to select Cal QB Jared Goff. The trade sent the Titans the Rams’ first-round draft pick (No. 15), two second-round draft picks (No. 43, No. 45), and a third-round draft pick (No. 76) in 2016. Tennessee also obtained Los Angeles’ first-round and third-round picks in the 2017 NFL Draft. In addition to receiving the No. 1 overall pick, Los Angeles gained the Titans’ fourth-round (No. 113) and sixth-round (No. 177) selections in 2016. No team has moved farther up in the first round since the New England Patriots did so in 1984.
In 2015, Snead led a draft that focused on revamping the running game. That started by selecting Gurley No. 10 overall and then selecting four offensive linemen with the team’s next six selections, highlighted by Wisconsin T Rob Havenstein (No. 57 overall). Havenstein has gone on to start all 59 regular season games and four postseason contests with the organization. The Rams boasted the third youngest offensive line in the NFL during the 2015 season, which showcased Havenstein who did not allow a sack as a rookie.
Gurley became just the third Rams rookie running back to eclipse the 1,000-yard rushing mark since Hall of Famers Eric Dickerson (1983) and Jerome Bettis (1993). Gurley led all rookies in rushing and finished third among all NFL runners in rushing yards (1,106). His season culminated with a Pro Bowl berth, Pro Football Writers of America Rookie of the Year award and NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award, marking the second-consecutive year that a Rams rookie took home NFL rookie honors (Donald –DPOY 2015). Gurley had his best season as a pro in 2018, leading the league with 2,093 scrimmage yards and 19 total touchdowns en route to earning Associated Press Offensive Player of the Year accolades.
Snead and his staff made a total of 11 selections in the 2014 draft. With their own first-round pick, they selected Donald, a Pittsburgh All-American, who earned Pro Bowl honors and was named NFL Defensive Rookie of the year after posting 9.0 sacks, the second most by any NFL defensive tackle that season. Donald bested his rookie performance in year two and garnered 11.0 sacks, which tied for most in the league at his position on his way to his second-consecutive Pro Bowl nod and went on to win Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2018. After becoming the highest paid defensive tackle in NFL history, Donald thanks Snead and the Rams with a franchise-best 20.5 sacks, the most by an interior defensive lineman in league history, en route to earning his second-consecutive AP Defensive Player of the Year honors.
Snead and his staff have had plenty of success in post-draft rookie free agency over the last eight years. Of the 53 players on the team’s final 2016 roster, 15 joined the Rams as undrafted rookie free agents under Snead’s watch. That group included Pro Bowl P Johnny Hekker and LS Jake McQuaide and special teams standout LB Cory Littleton, who blocked two kicks during the 2017 season.
Snead inherited a roster that had endured one of the most difficult stretches in league history. From 2007 to 2011, St. Louis posted a 15-65 record (.188 winning percentage), the worst ever by an NFL team during any five-year period. The Rams’ 15 wins during that stretch were the fewest in the league, and Detroit, which had the second-lowest win total during the same time frame, totaled 10 more wins than St. Louis as the Lions won 25 games. From 2012-15, the Rams have logged 27 wins to increase their winning percentage to .422.
The Rams’ 2016 training camp roster was the youngest roster in the NFL. Since the Snead administration has been in place, the Rams have boasted the youngest roster during the 2012, 2014 and 2016 seasons. The Rams were the second-youngest team in 2015.
In the spring of 2012, Snead directed a trade that sent the second overall pick in the 2012 draft to the Washington Redskins in exchange for the sixth and 39th picks that year as well as Washington’s first round picks in both 2013 and 2014.
Snead made two additional trades in April of 2012 that allowed the Rams to make four of the first 50 selections in the 2012 draft. The surplus of picks allowed the Rams to strategically maneuver in the 2013 draft as well. With the Rams sitting at No. 16, Snead surmised that he wouldn’t be able to stand pat and land highly-coveted WR/PR Tavon Austin, so he worked out a deal with the Buffalo Bills. The Rams moved up to Buffalo’s eighth spot and selected the speedy playmaker from West Virginia. Austin scored six touchdowns as a rookie – four receiving, one rushing and one on a 98-yard punt return. In the Rams’ win at Indianapolis in 2013, Austin became one of three rookies in NFL history to score three touchdowns of 50 yards or more, joining Hall of Famer Gale Sayers and Randy Moss.
With the 22nd pick, which the Rams owned as part of the Washington trade, Snead made another deal that helped the club recoup a significant portion of what he’d sent to Buffalo. The Rams swapped places with the Atlanta Falcons, and with the 30th selection, Snead and company were able to secure the player they’d targeted at No. 22 - Georgia LB Alec Ogletree. As a rookie, Ogletree led the Rams with 155 tackles and added 1.5 sacks, six forced fumbles and an interception.
In his role as general manager, Snead partners with Head Coach Sean McVay to direct all personnel decisions for the club. In addition, Snead coordinates all aspects of the club’s football operations with the head coach. He also joins forces with C.O.O/Executive Vice President of Football Operations Kevin Demoff and Vice President, Football & Business Administration Tony Pastoors to direct the team’s business ventures.
Prior to joining the Rams, Snead spent 13 seasons with the Atlanta Falcons. He served as the club’s director of player personnel from 2009-11 and also held posts as a pro scout and as the Falcons’ director of pro personnel.
During his time in Atlanta, Snead was part of a personnel staff that signed, traded for or drafted 16 players that went on to earn Pro Bowl honors.
Snead helped construct a roster that has been one of the NFL’s best over the last few years. From 2008-11, the Falcons had four consecutive winning seasons, winning 43 games during that time, which are the fifth-most wins in the NFL over that time period. The Falcons participated in one Super Bowl and two NFC Championship games during Snead’s tenure with the club.
Snead joined the Falcons after three seasons (1995-97) in the pro scouting department of the Jacksonville Jaguars. He was hired by the Jaguars prior to the franchise’s first season and helped put together a team that garnered an AFC Championship game berth in just its second year of existence. Jacksonville won its first division title in Snead’s final year with the team.
Snead played tight end for Auburn from 1992-93 and was part of the Tigers’ perfect 11-0 team in 1993. He also earned Southeast Region Academic All-American honors during his college career.
The Eufaula, Ala. native holds a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology and planned to attend medical school until he was offered a graduate assistant coaching position at his alma mater. He earned a Master of Education degree at Auburn while working as a graduate assistant and he also served as an administrative assistant of football operation in 1995 at Auburn.
In addition to his duties with the Rams, Snead also sits on a pair of advisory boards, including GAMEBREAKER, which is a soft shelled headgear powered by D3O Impact Technology as a way to help alleviate some of the nicks and abrasions that come with playing any contact or non contact sport. Also Snead serves as a board member on the Curry School Foundation Board at UVA, a dynamic group of professionals who have committed themselves as fundraisers and ambassadors of the school, promoting Curry’s work among their networks of colleagues and acquaintances.
Snead is married to Kara Henderson Snead, a sports media personality who has worked for NFL Network, and co-hosted NFL Total Access and provided in-depth interviews, pregame and postgame reports and sideline reports for a variety of shows across the network including NFL Total Access, Around the League, NFL GameDay Morning and NFL GameDay Final. Kara graduated cum laude from Duke University. She began her career as a production assistant at ESPN and later ABC News. Her on-air career began at NESN in 1998 as the co-host of NESN’s “Front Row”. From 2000 to 2003, she worked at CNN as a reporter and anchor.
Together, the couple has three children: a son, Logan, who is a freshman at UVA and a member of the Cavalier football team, a daughter, Cannon, and a son Tate, who are freshmen at Oaks Christian High School.