Keep them picks?: Snead says LA Rams must reload in draft
By GREG BEACHAM
LOS ANGELES (AP) Les Snead says the Los Angeles Rams need to replenish their organizational depth, and he is looking forward to doing it by making a bunch of draft picks in the next few years.
That's not a change in philosophy for the general manager who humorously wore a T-shirt to the Rams' Super Bowl parade featuring the profane meme claiming that he, well, doesn't much care for draft choices.
Instead, it's the logical next step in the evolution of the franchise that won a championship a year ago and then finished the current campaign at 5-12. The Rams' worst injury luck since their return to Los Angeles exposed the depth lacking on a roster that has added only six players from the top two rounds since coming home to California seven years ago.
The Rams' next step in "Chapter 3 of the Sean McVay Era," as Snead called it Thursday, is to put better depth behind Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp, Aaron Donald, Bobby Wagner and Jalen Ramsey.
"When you get in a situation where you're now relying more on players on their rookie contracts to actually be key contributors, key starters, (then) getting back to having some first-rounders, getting back to having second- and third-rounders will be advantageous," Snead said.
Snead admitted the 2022 Rams simply weren't as deep as his previous teams, and he's eager to add depth however he can - starting with the upcoming draft in which he expects to have 10 picks, although most will be on Day 3.
That's the price of repeatedly trading high-round picks for proven veteran players in a strategy that produced five winning seasons, four playoff berths, three NFC West titles and two Super Bowl appearances over an outstanding half-decade.
"We're probably going to have to not press the gas as much, pay a little bit of the debt that we've accumulated," Snead said. "As you do some of the things that we've done, you're going to push some of that down the road. But we've been able to be competitive paying some of that debt as well. ... There are ways - not necessarily easy, but this league is not easy - and it's up to us to be creative, innovative and to try to figure that out."
The Rams made seven of their eight picks last year on Day 3, and they got very little out of the group: Only fourth-round defensive back Cobie Durant made a sustained impact on the field.
The Rams haven't made a first-round pick since 2016, and they don't have another until 2024, with their sixth overall choice this April belonging to the Detroit Lions.
Snead admits the Rams need a modest rebuild, although he's calling it a "remodel."
The foreman on that remodeling job is already in place: Sean McVay decided last week to return for a seventh season in charge, although the Rams will have yet another year of heavy turnover in their coaching staff with the departure of offensive coordinator Liam Coen and the dismissals of several assistants.
Snead confirmed McVay was seriously thinking about leaving the team to deal with burnout, and the Rams made a contingency plan in case the youngest coach in NFL history to win a Super Bowl walked away. Snead said the Rams also had talks about how "to make this a more sustainable outfit," although McVay has near-complete autonomy in his job.
"When (McVay) got the job at age 30, the guy has been basically running an 800-meter sprint every week since he got our job," Snead said. "Over time, at some point, a hamstring is going to get pulled, and you're not going to be able to do it. I don't know how to determine whether it's to delegate more, but somehow take his weekly rhythm and make it more sustainable."
The top part of the Rams' top-heavy roster should be back next season. Snead said the Rams haven't formally confirmed Stafford and Donald are returning in 2023, but he tacitly indicated the Rams will have both stars.
Stafford already said he's returning after missing eight of Los Angeles' final nine games because of injury. Donald tweeted Tuesday that he's playing in 2023 - three days after somebody sent Rams fans into a panic by briefly putting "former NFL D linemen" in Donald's Twitter bio.
"I guess you could follow Aaron Donald on Twitter, maybe," Snead said with a laugh. "My kids did tell me he retired Saturday for a little bit."
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Updated January 19, 2023