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2016 NFL Draft: Why the Rams traded up

In 2012 the St. Louis Rams passed up the chance to draft Robert Griffin III, favouring instead to


In 2012 the St. Louis Rams passed up the chance to draft Robert Griffin III, favouring instead to take the bounty of picks offered to them by the Washington Redskins – a 1st round selection in the 2012, 2013 & 2014 drafts as well as a 2012 second round pick. Through further trades of those picks the Rams turned those selections into Greg Robinson, Alec Ogletree, Stedman Bailey, Zac Stacy, Isaiah Pead, Michael Brockers, Janoris Jenkins and Rokevious Watkins. They didn’t all turn into stars obviously but that’s a nice return that strengthened the Rams and has helped them become a a reasonably competitive team with a very good defense. But despite all the forward momentum the Rams have had since 2012 they are stuck around the .500 mark, why? Mostly it’s because they are rudderless on offense. The addition of Todd Gurley last year has helped a lot, he is an immense talent. But in the modern NFL it takes a truly special effort from a running back to get an offense to the point where it’s capable of getting a team into the playoffs. Adrian Peterson’s monstrous 2012 campaign of 2,097 yards was the last time a singular running back dragged a team into the post season. You can do it with an elite ground game and a spectacular defense, but history has shown that it is incredibly hard to have a consistent, year-to-year elite level defense. What does get you consistently into the playoffs and into Super Bowl contention is a good passing game, fueled by a star quarterback. You look at the consistency of the Peyton Manning Colts, Tom Brady’s Patriots, the Packers with first Brett Favre and then Aaron Rodgers; Quarterbacks don’t guarantee Lombardi Trophies, but top level quarterbacks would seem to guarantee at least competitiveness. They need a team around them, I am not discounting that, but a good quarterback can turn a good team into one that is playing in February. You just have to look at the change in results and production of the Denver Broncos from Tim Tebow’s stewardship in 2011 to that of Peyton Manning’s from 2012 onwards. Quarterbacks matter. This is why the Los Angeles Rams have taken this dramatic step to trade all the way up from #15 to #1 this year. That haul they got from Washington has helped fill holes in their roster. Strong drafting over the last few years have given them legitimate superstars in Todd Gurley and Aaron Donald, all they seem to have been lacking is quality at the quarterback position. By Football Outsiders metrics the Rams passing offense has been dreadful, and it has been getting worse over the years. They were 21st in passing efficiency in 2013 but dropped all the way to  31st last season. In short, the Rams absolutely suck at throwing the football. If they want to advance and have their first winning season since two thousand and f’n three they have to improve the passing game, which means finding a quarterback. That job seems, for now, to have been done. You don’t trade away a pair of first and second round picks if you have any reservations that the guy you’re moving up for is THE guy. Whether that is Carson Wentz or Jared Goff awaits to be seen, but there is no doubt the trade they made is for a quarterback. While Laremy Tunsil or Jalen Ramsey would be a very useful addition to their team, you simply don’t give up that much for a left tackle or a cornerback. Many Rams fans reacted poorly to the news of the trade. Which is understandable, these moves rarely work out. And even when the player selected is a star the trade can often leave a devastatingly thin roster – such as the Falcons moving up for Julio Jones. But after 12 years of losing the Rams need to do SOMETHING to end the irrelevance the team has slipped into. There’s no doubt that this is a risky move for the freshly minted Los Angeles Rams, but it’s a risk the front office have to take if they want to lift the team out of the doldrums and into respectability and get back to the playoffs at last.

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Toby Durant

A passionate and opinionated writer, I am currently the NFL editor for RealSport. However, I also contribute to F1, WWE, Football, and other sections of the site, and I have covered the NFL International Series for RealSport and previously contributed to SB Nation.

 

I also have 10 years playing and coaching experience in American football, starting at the University of Nottingham and including a stint as defensive coordinator at Oxford Brookes University. I may be a Patriots fan but all aspects of the sport interest me, from guard play to special teams.

2016 NFL Draft: Why the Rams traded up

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