Rams GM Les Snead revisits '23 Draft: 'We probably should've drafted (Puka) early'

Los Angeles Rams Offseason, Les Snead
Los Angeles Rams Offseason, Les Snead / Jayne Kamin-Oncea/GettyImages

it's always a good thing to place the annual NFL Draft into perspective. As fans, we can view the consensus draft boards, the competition on full display at the annual NFL Scouting Combine, and come to the conclusion that any given prospect who is touted and praised in the days and week leading up to the draft is a slam dunk.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

We dove into the hit rates of positional groups at various rounds in the NFL Draft over the years, and learned that the odds are not always great. If the threshold of success for a rookie prospect is to become a starter, then it's amazing to learn that 37 percent of quarterbacks selected in Round 1 of the draft never achieve even that modest goal. 42 percent of wide receivers chosen in Round 1 do not become starters.

Let that sink in for a moment. The odds of finding a starting wide receiver in Round 1 of the NFL Draft is no better than 58 percent. Just, wow.

So the chance of the LA Rams hitting the best rookie wide receiver in NFL history in Round 5 with the 177th pick of the 2023 NFL Draft is about as common as hitting the winning ticket in the Power Ball lottery. It's so rare, that even LA Rams GM Les Snead, the man who made the pick, is astounded by the success of it after the fact.

When Rams GM Les Snead was asked about his thought process of finding prospects who succeed in the NFL despite being selected late in the draft, he replied:

"I think if they are having a year like Puka (Nacua)? I'm like, holy cow, we were stupid. Why did we wait until the end to pick him? So that's the first thing that crosses your mind."

Rams GM Les Snead

And that is coming straight from the man who made the pick. The point is that despite test scores, Pro Days, and even the consensus of a myriad of NFL analysts and draft scouts, the draft remains a roll of the dice. And all of the elements that lead up to the consensus regard for any given player is a matter of chance.

The LA Rams seemed to go off the beaten path in 2023, selecting older, more mature players who all seemed to resonate with a passion for football that was off the charts. It appears just one year later that was a very successful strategy. But it won't be long before other team mimic that strategy, and exhaust those prospects before the Rams can pick them.

In the end, the Rams success in 2023 does not necessarily mean that 2024 is guaranteed to be just as impressive. Even LA Rams GM Les Snead is astonished at how well the Rams drafted in 2023.

The most successful strategy is always to get more picks. If you look at how well the Rams rookies performed in later rounds compared to the top selections in last year's draft, you will find it's not when a rookie is chosen, but what they do with the opportunity to play in the NFL after they are chosen.