Does a shallow Top-tier draft help or hurt the LA Rams?
By Bret Stuter
As the LA Rams enter the 2023 NFL Draft, there are plenty of questions that start with the team's 36th overall pick. Will the Rams use the pick, trade up from that pick, or trade back from that pick? The answer to that question lies not in the minds of the executives who work in the LA Rams front office. Rather, the answer to that question lies in whose name remains on the 2023 NFL Draft board when the LA Rams step up to make their selection.
Will the LA Rams find names of prospects that they covet there? Will some other team be so passionate and persuasive in their offer to trade for the LA Rams 36th overall pick that a deal can be hammered out in the 10 minutes or so that the Rams have to make their selection? Or will the Rams have no choices, or too many choices, in rookies that the best choice is to add draft picks and back down the draft order a bit?
If you believe that a number of first-round graded rookies will fall to the LA Rams at 36, then this may be a bit sobering news today. But keep in mind that information that is released before any NFL Draft about that NFL Draft should be met with skepticism. But the latest report from NFL Insider Tom Pelissero suggests that there could be plenty of teams looking to trade back from the latter part of Round 1.
Shallow elite talent in 2023 NFL Draft
Trading back is a lot easier to talk about and write about than to actually pull off. After all, there are 32 NFL teams that are all jockeying for an optimal position in any given NFL Draft. If one team believes that trading out of the first round will give that team a competitive advantage, there are likely other teams thinking the same thing. And while they have reached that conclusion, each team must find and persuade a team to move in the opposite direction. Right now, that opposite direction is to trade up into the first round.
The reason? Pelissero reports that most NFL teams have less than 20 rookies worthy of a first-round pick:
Okay. But that really is not as dramatic or newsworthy as you may think. The reason? It's the same for each NFL Draft. And the fact that a report like that surfaces now comes with the question, why now? Well, if any team holds an early Round 1 draft pick, a leaked report like this could inflate the cost of trading to a Top-20 position to grab an elite prospect.
Likewise, if an NFL wants to trade up to Round 1, a leaked report like this could deflate the cost of moving into the last 10 picks of Round 1.
No draft board is the same
Whether or not this latest bit of news brings about a change of heart regarding what you believe that the LA Rams will do throughout this draft, keep in mind the one constant. No NFL Draft board is identical to another. And those differences become the fuel for Draft Day blockbuster trades.
Even if the LA Rams enter the 2023 NFL Draft with the strategy of multiplying the number of total picks, or just the number of picks in the first 200 selections made, they may or may not encounter teams along the way who are looking to go in the opposite direction. That is, they hold more picks later in Rounds 3, 4, or the early part of Round 5 and wish to trade up. Or they could hold a pick or two in those rounds and simply seek to trade back.
The LA Rams know where they see the best value lies for them, the area of the draft that hold the greatest pool of talent for the Rams roster, and at an affordable price when it comes to signing contracts.
Because the Rams have so many open roster slots, they can be incredibly flexible throughout the 2023 NFL Draft. While that may not make Rams fans thrilled during the draft, in the end, the ability to outmaneuver other NFL teams on draft day is a distinct advantage.