Rams' draft triple threat: Trade up, down, pick … 'We're going to explore all three'

Sean McVay achieved many historic milestones during his seven seasons as coach of the Rams.

At 30, he was the youngest coach hired in modern NFL history. In his first season, he led the Rams to the playoffs, in his second the Super Bowl.

In 2021-22, he became the youngest coach to win a Super Bowl title.

Now, at 38, McVay is tied for fourth among NFL coaches with the longest tenures with their current teams.

But McVay never has chosen a player in the first round of the NFL draft.

That could change Thursday night when the draft begins in Detroit. The Rams, who have not made a first-round pick since 2016, have the No. 19 pick.

Does McVay feel pressure?

“No pressure,” he said Tuesday during a video conference with reporters. “Just a great opportunity to add a quality player that hopefully makes an impact.”

He then added, “That is, if we do pick in the first round.”

Les Snead, Rams general manager since 2012, has earned a well-deserved reputation for trading back in the draft to acquire more picks. So it remains to be seen whether he will stay at No. 19, trade up for a desired prospect or trade back to add to the Rams’ 11 picks.

“All three of those options are probably as real as it can get,” Snead said during the video conference, “and we’re going to explore all three.”

The Rams also have a pick in the second round (No. 52), two in the third (Nos. 83 and 99), two in the fifth (Nos. 154 and 155), four in the sixth (Nos. 196, 209, 213 and 217) and one in the seventh (No. 254).

Snead has not chosen a player in the first round since he traded up a record 14 picks to select quarterback Jared Goff No. 1 overall in 2016.

That trade sent several future first-round picks to the Tennessee Titans. In the years since, the Rams traded first-round picks for players such as receiver Brandin Cooks, cornerback Jalen Ramsey and quarterback Matthew Stafford.

Cooks was a key player for a team that advanced to Super Bowl LIII. Stafford and Ramsey helped lead the Rams to a victory in Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium.

Is McVay, who has guided the Rams to five playoff appearances, frustrated that he has not made a first-round pick?

“I’ve got all the texts Sean has sent me over the years,” Snead joked.

“Zero frustration,” McVay said.

McVay acknowledged that the opportunity to make a first-round pick was “exciting” but the Rams will have contingency plans.

“If you said, ‘Are there certain things that I think we would all say that’s a win-win plan if it comes out that way? Hell, yeah,’” he said. “But that doesn’t mean we’re not going to feel good about other scenarios.”

Pass rushers are the Rams’ most pressing need.

Even before future Hall of Famer Aaron Donald’s recent retirement, the Rams desired an edge rusher and other players who could consistently pressure quarterbacks.

“Whatever we do in the draft — whoever we draft — it’s probably pretty hard to say you’re replacing Aaron Donald,” Snead said. “I know Sean and his staff are trying to figure out how to still be a very impactful, frustrating defense to play against in ways other than just finding another Aaron Donald.”

The Rams also could be in the market for receivers, offensive tackles and defensive backs among other positions, including quarterback.

Quarterbacks Stafford, Jimmy Garoppolo and Stetson Bennett are on the roster. Bennett, who spent last his rookie season on the non-football injury/illness list because of an undisclosed issue, is participating in voluntary offseason workouts, which to this point have included only meetings.

“He looks good,” McVay said. “He’s had a good look in his eye. He’s been attentive in the meetings and I’m looking forward to next week and being able to get out on the grass with all of our players, Stetson being one of them.”

With Stafford, Garoppolo and Bennett, would that preclude the Rams from drafting another quarterback?

“I think you leave all options on the table,” McVay said.

As the primary architect of the offense, and the play-caller, McVay pushed back against the notion he would not pass up the opportunity to select an impact player on offense in the first round.

“That is not an accurate assumption,” he said. “Are you saying that I get excited about an offensive player? Yeah, but I get damn sure excited about a defensive player too.”

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