Once again, LA Rams general manager Les Snead has mortgaged the future of the franchise to try and patch up a hole he played a major role in creating. And in doing so, he continues to set Sean McVay up for failure by giving away first-round picks that could be used to upgrade a roster that hasn’t had an infusion of early-round talent in quite some time.
Unfortunately for one of the NFL’s best head coaches, he continues to suffer from the Rams’ refusal to fire an incompetent employee. Because taking a deeper dive into Snead’s personnel moves, it’s abundantly clear that he doesn’t deserve to be the chief decision maker in LA any longer.
Who needs first-round picks anyways?
Most NFL teams use first-round picks to draft cornerstone players. While no GM is perfect, it’s certainly reasonable to expect that someone drafted on Day 1 will at least become a starter.
While Les Snead obviously hit big on Aaron Donald in 2014, don’t forget that the Rams completely blew the second overall pick on Greg Robinson, who failed to develop into a franchise left tackle.
In fact, when you take a look at how LA has used its first-round picks since Snead came aboard in 2012, the results are stunningly disappointing.
Michael Brockers became a solid starter, but he certainly wouldn’t go 14th overall in a re-draft. Tavon Austin was a flat-out bust. Alec Ogletree got overpaid and subsequently traded.
Todd Gurley looked like a star before knee troubles and a bloated contract led to his early exit. Brandin Cooks, who cost the Rams their 2018 first-round pick, also scored a massive payday…and then got traded.
Meanwhile, thanks to the Jalen Ramsey and Matthew Stafford trades, the Rams won’t have a first-round pick until 2024. Assuming Snead doesn’t trade away that selection, the franchise will have gone seven straight years without selecting a player in the first round of the NFL draft.
Setting Sean McVay up for failure
Les Snead gets paid to give Sean McVay the tools to succeed.
Unfortunately for the brilliantly talented NFL coach, his sidekick has not held up his end of the bargain.
Instead of building through a draft-and-develop model, Snead went all-in to get Goff with the No. 1 pick back in 2016. McVay inherited a quarterback who clearly did not live up to expectations in LA based on Saturday’s trade.
And by mortgaging an enormous amount of draft capital to secure the former UCLA star, along with all the other trades that have sent picks to other teams, Snead has set McVay up for failure.
The Rams’ offensive line once ranked as one of the league’s best. But protection and blocking issues have played a major factor in LA falling from second in points and total yards in 2018 to 22nd and 11th in 2020.
Yet, the Rams have no way to bolster that unit with early-round talent due to their lack of draft capital. How much longer can LA rely on the aging Andrew Whitworth? Plus, three-year starter Austin Blythe needs a new contract.
The offensive line issues certainly haven’t helped the running game, either. Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson have flashed solid ability in part-time roles, but neither has seized control of the starting job. For a team that ran its offense through Gurley at one point, it’s clear that having a true No. 1 back is crucial.
However, any problems the Rams have cannot be addressed with an immediate-impact player through the draft. At least, not in the first round. Coaches still need talent to work with, but Snead has literally traded away the chance to find young, cheap players via the homegrown route.
In addition, he has handed out huge contracts that have blown up in the team’s face. The Rams have taken on ridiculous dead-cap charges to get rid of players who ultimately never should have gotten paid in the first place.
Losing salary-cap space and draft picks is a strategy no NFL GM should follow.
When will the Rams finally realize Les Snead is the problem?
At the end of the day, the Rams have won 67% of their games under Sean McVay. But LA hasn’t tasted championship glory despite having a coach who many regard as one of the NFL’s best.
That has everything to do with his sidekick, who has simply made far too many mistakes during his near-decade run as GM.
From missing on first-round picks to trading them away for players who failed to live up to expectations, the 50-year-old front-office executive deserves far more scrutiny for his personnel misses.
From a scouting perspective, Snead definitely has an eye for talent. However, his overall roster management—especially in terms of trades and contracts—has jeopardized the future of the franchise without even delivering a single Super Bowl title.
Ultimately, the Rams should let McVay either take over personnel duties himself or hire someone he trusts to make the right call.
Because at the end of the day, Les Snead was in charge before McVay came on board, and the Rams never came close to winning a title. And despite having a coach who clearly knows what he’s doing, LA still hasn’t hoisted the Lombardi Trophy.
Until the Rams realize Snead is the problem, that won’t change.
All statistics courtesy of Pro Football Reference.