Rams GM Les Snead prepares to ply his trade in NFL draft

The Rams don’t expect to be on the clock anytime soon as the NFL draft begins Thursday, but they don’t know when pro sports’ favorite board game will turn into speed chess.

That’s when general manager Les Snead will get antsy.

“Les gets real frenetic —  in a good way as the clock starts clicking down — and it’s fun for us,” coach Sean McVay said when he and Snead talked about the draft with reporters on a joint virtual press conference this week.

“During the season, I may be the frontal lob and you’re the amygdala, but this time of year you’re the frontal lobe and I’m the amygdala,” Snead, the old Auburn psychology major, said to McVay.

McVay translated: “That’s a nice way of saying Les is the basket case now, (and) I’m the basket case during the season.”

While the draft ceremonies go on in Las Vegas, the Rams brain trust will be working in style befitting Super Bowl champions, headquartered at the team’s “draft house” in the Hollywood Hills.

The Rams will be sitting out Thursday night’s first round, having traded away their first-round pick for the sixth year in a row, this time in the 2021 deal for quarterback Matthew Stafford. They have no second-round pick either on Friday, the result of the 2021 swap for outside linebacker Von Miller. As it stands, they won’t make a choice until the next to last pick Friday, in the third round, the 104th overall.

Then they’re scheduled to make seven more picks in the fourth through seventh rounds on Saturday.

If history is a guide, some of that will change.

Snead has traded picks during the draft in nine of his 10 years as Rams GM, and he has made seven trades before or during the draft involving first-round picks, most notably the pre-draft trade up to get quarterback Jared Goff at No. 1 overall in 2016.

But he has never moved up into the first round by trading draft picks alone, and seems unlikely to be able to do that this time if he wanted to.

“I doubt we’ve got the ammo to get into that first round,” Snead said. “But you know what, Sean is persistent. I’m sure he can talk us into being creative.”

Much more likely, the Rams will trade down, giving up one or two picks in exchange for two or three lower down.

A year ago, they pulled off such trades with the 49ers, Jaguars and Texans during the draft, acquiring the picks that brought them, among others, defensive back Robert Rochell and wide receiver Ben Skowronek.

Among the Super Bowl participants whom the Rams took with picks acquired in trades during the draft: linebacker Travin Howard (2018), safeties Taylor Rapp and Nick Scott, running back Darrell Henderson, nose tackle Greg Gaines (2019), and tight end Brycen Hopkins (2020).

Trading down and giving themselves “more shots at the basket,” as Snead puts it, has been one key to the Rams’ success at finding useful players with late-round picks.

The Rams have no single glaring hole to fill in the draft, one reason they probably wouldn’t trade up even if they could.

They have needs — or wants — on the offensive line after the retirement of Andrew Whitworth and free-agent loss of Austin Blythe, and at outside linebacker and cornerback because of Miller’s and Darious Williams’ free-agent departures. Inside linebacker, even after the signing of Bobby Wagner, and the defensive line could use more depth. The Rams have prospects in mind at every position.

“We’ll probably have four to five positions that we’d like to pick from,” Snead said of the 104th pick, “and if we’ve done the correct work previously, when we get to 104, we’ll be able to look up at the board and at one of those four or five positions there’ll be a favorite player of ours.”

If there are too many favorites to choose just one, “that’s when you can think about trading back,” Snead said.

Said McVay: “When you’re on the (clock), and you feel like you can move back and gain some more draft capital, and it allows you to add kind of a two-for-one or even more than that, that’s always something that Les has done a great job of.”

The last time the Rams prepared for a draft in which they didn’t draft in the top 100 was 1984, when their first pick was in the fifth round at No. 133. They chose East Carolina defensive end Hal Stephens. He wound up playing in two NFL games.

“It’s definitely been unique, even for us, with our first pick being at 104,” McVay said. “But I definitely feel that we’re going to come away with some players who we expect to help us a lot sooner than later.”

Whether those players are drafted sooner or later, that’s the question going into this draft.


The Rams have eight picks in the NFL draft. Round 1 is Thursday, rounds 2-3 Friday, rounds 4-7 Saturday.

1st round: No pick. Rams’ 1st-round pick, 32nd overall, went to the Lions in the 2021 trade for QB Matthew Stafford.

2nd round: No pick. Rams’ 2nd-round pick, 64th overall, went to the Broncos in the 2021 trade for OLB Von Miller.

3rd round: Rams have 104th overall pick, compensatory for Lions hiring executive Brad Holmes. Rams’ original 3rd-round pick, 96th overall, went to the Broncos in the Miller trade.

4th round: Rams have 142nd overall pick, compensation for losing free-agent S John Johnson to Browns. Rams’ original 4th-round pick, 137th overall, went to the Texans with WR Brandin Cooks in a 2020 trade for a 2020 2nd-rounder, which became WR Van Jefferson.

5th round: Rams have 175th overall pick.

6th round: Rams have 211th, 212th and 218th overall picks, compensation for losing free-agent TE Gerald Everett to the Seahawks, OLB Samson Ebukam to the 49ers and CB Troy Hill to the Browns. Rams’ original sixth-round pick, 210th overall, went to the Patriots in the 2021 trade for RB Sony Michel.

7th round: Rams have 238th and 253rd overall picks, the former acquired in the 2019 trade that sent CB Aqib Talib to the Dolphins.