It was one of the most lopsided trades in recent history.
The Washington Redskins, desperate to find a quarterback that could lead them to greatness, gave up a whopping three first round picks to the then St. Louis Rams in exchange for their second overall selection in the 2012 NFL Draft. The move proved to be an act of brilliance for the Rams, as they stocked their roster with high-valued talent, while the Redskins were stuck with a lackluster quarterback in Robert Griffin III.
Fast forward four seasons, and it’s baffling to see that the now Los Angeles Rams would purposefully make the same mistake as the Redskins, when the Rams traded up to the top of the draft last week. The move, which will allow the Rams to decide between either California quarterback Jared Goff or North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz, showed just how desperate the Rams have become.
In what appeared to be a last-ditch effort to satisfy their new Los Angeles fan base, the team parted ways with their first rounder, two second round picks and a third round selection in 2016, along with an additional first and third round selection in 2017. In exchange, they received the Tennessee Titans’ first overall pick, as well as their fourth and sixth round selections this year. Though they didn’t give up too much for the giant leap, the Rams are putting all their cards on the table in a year where the crop of quarterbacks is far from phenomenal.
Option one for the Rams is Goff, who marches into the league with glaring issues. Though he lit up the college scene by passing for 4,719 yards and 43 touchdowns in his final season, he led the Pac-12 Conference with 13 interceptions. In addition, he fumbled a cringe-worthy 23 times in his 37 career starts. He may look like the most pro-ready passer, but he is nowhere near the level of a Peyton Manning or Andrew Luck type prospect.
The Rams’ other choice is Wentz. Wentz ended his final year in college by throwing for 1,651 yards and 17 touchdowns, while only giving up four interceptions. He also added six rushing touchdowns, despite missing eight games due to a wrist injury. At this point, Wentz looks like a developmental prospect, who may need time to sit on the bench and learn from a veteran.
No one will argue that the Rams need a quarterback. Last year, the Rams’ passers combined for 2,805 yards through the air, while ranking dead last in touchdowns with only a mere 11. With that being said, they aren’t a team that’s one piece away from being a contender. They need to upgrade their offensive line, which ranked 28th out of all 32 teams last season, according to Pro Football Focus’ yearly rankings. In addition, the team also had a rough free agency defensively, as cornerback Janoris Jenkins, safety Rodney McLeod and linebacker James Laurinaitis all found new teams this offseason. How can the team fill all those gaps now that their optimal selections are gone?
The Rams best decision may have just been to remain patient and stay put. They could have easily landed Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch in the heart of the first round, while still keeping their additional picks to address their defensive departures and inconsistent offensive line. In his farewell season, Lynch put up 3,776 yards, while tossing 28 touchdowns and only four interceptions. There’s little doubt that he would have been an upgrade over any option the team currently has on their roster.
Finding a franchise signal caller is an absolute must. When there is a once in a generation prospect at the top of the draft, these blockbuster trades can end up paying off. However, with only Goff or Wentz to choose from, and various glaring holes around the team, the Rams may have been too ambitious this draft. Whoever the Rams end up taking, only time will tell whether they’ll be able to lead the team to the promised land, or perhaps the Rams will be on the losing end of the deal, just like the Redskins a few years back.