With the recent move from St. Louis to their native Los Angeles, the Rams certainly had desire to create some buzz for their new (and old) fans to latch onto. While their decision to sell the farm in exchange for the Titans' first overall pick in the 2016 draft will certainly get people talking, history will dictate it as a colossal mistake. In fact, it recently did when the Rams were on the winning end of a similar deal, in the form of the RGIII trade that occurred in 2012.
One could make an argument that due to the requirements for a successful team in the modern NFL game, that a "can't miss" QB prospect may be worth an outrageous deal, laden with future draft picks. But that is only the case for someone with the caliber of Andrew Luck, who is a generational QB talent, and has the skill set to completely turn around a team by day one. North Dakota State's Carson Wentz and California's Jared Goff likely won't fit that bill, and the Rams will have explain why they made this impending catastrophe of a trade in several years.
It's a move that reeks of desperation, not only to save Jeff Fisher's job, but to present a shiny new toy to the Los Angeles fanbase immediately, instead of buying time to get a truly effective prospect at the QB position. Of course, there are obviously no guarantees in the NFL draft, but there is such a thing as well-calculated risk. That is not the case here, and this trade has the potential to set the Rams' franchise even further backwards than it was during the latter part of its tenure in St. Louis.
Ranked below are the top 15 reasons the Los Angeles Rams shouldn't have traded for the 1st overall pick.
15 They Have Nick Foles
Okay, so Foles may not be the second coming of Johnny Unitas, but he has show glimpses of excellence in his short NFL career thus far. In 2013 as the starter for the Eagles he racked up 27 TD passes against two INTs, with a 9.12 yards per throw average. His struggles with the Rams last year is probably more of an indictment on their ability to field a competent offensive system, than it is on Foles' ability. Yes, lack of mobility, and an occasional errant throw are legitimate criticisms against Foles, but in a Gurley-led, run first offense he should be able to get the job done, and prevent the Rams from selling the farm.
14 They Have Limited Skill Players
Other than young RB phenom Todd Gurley, the Rams are sorely lacking any play-making ability on their offense. Tavon Austin is the one closest to anything of the sort, but his small frame at 5-foot-8, 176 pounds doesn't lend itself to anything more than a utility weapon. Besides him, they're looking at the underwhelming likes of WRs Kenny Britt, Stedman Bailey and Brian Quick. As mentioned, Gurley is a definite three-down back, but Benny Cunningham and Tre Mason aren't providing a good change of pace, and haven't shown to be a pass-catching threat out of the backfield.
Neither Wentz, nor Goff would be able to perform any better than Foles with the current offensive roster, which needs to be addressed first.
13 They Don't Have A Good Offensive Line
It would also probably be a sound idea for the Rams to shore up the poor offensive line that currently resides on their roster. Pro Football Focus had the group ranked 28th overall, in large part due to the struggles of second-year tackle Greg Robinson. Jeff Fisher claims that the team wants to build up the unit through the draft, and while they still could do that, taking a QB in the first round makes that much less of a successful probability.
On top of that, you don't want your investment at QB to get slaughtered in the pocket, which has even happened to mobile QBs such as Marcus Mariota last year in Tennessee for the the same reason.
12 They Play In A Difficult Division
Given the cast surrounding the Rams in the NFC West, a different approach is needed from the Rams to separate themselves from the pack. Bruce Arians has turned the Cardinals into an offensive juggernaut, the Seahawks have an elite, young QB in Russell Wilson, and the 49ers will be implementing new head coach Chip Kelly's unique offensive system. L.A. needs to find a way to differentiate themselves, and build a strong defense to be able to compete in such an offensive-minded (including Seattle) division, that will run roughshod over a Wentz or Goff-led offense with no legitimate skill players sans Gurley. The losses of secondary players Janoris Jenkins and Rodney McLeod can't be ignored while playing in this division.
11 A Franchise QB Does Not Guarantee Success
The common narrative in the NFL today is that success is impossible without a franchise QB, and while that by and large has been proven true, simply having a franchise QB does guarantee success in and of itself. Both the Lions and Chargers were disasters last season, despite the presence of Matt Stafford and Philip Rivers. The Dolphins' front office has made Ryan Tannehill look worse than he really is, and how many playoff games have the Bengals won with Andy Dalton? The fact is that a solid roster has to be built around a franchise QB, with a sensible plan from management in order to succeed. The Rams have neither, and the desperation move for Wentz or Goff won't change that.
10 Jeff Fisher Has More To Lose
In the four seasons Jeff Fisher has been head coach of the Rams, he has never won more than seven games in a season. Make no mistake about it; Fisher is fighting for his job right now, and has convinced upper management that Wentz or Goff is the catalyst for a playoff appearance. In reality, this is a questionable class of QBs, and Fisher is grasping at straws, trying to hold onto his job. Taking one of the QBs in question at 15th overall would have been reasonable, trading up for one, giving up a bevy of draft picks is not, because...
9 They Will Need Those Draft Picks
We've already established that the Rams have aspects of their roster that need some desperate help; offensive line, the secondary due to departures from McLeod and Jenkins, and WR could all stand for some improvement. The terms of the trade with the Titans essentially make this impossible to confidently address in the draft for the next two seasons. The Rams relinquished both their second round, and third round selections in 2016 (while obviously swapping first rounders), as well as their first and third round picks in 2017. In pro football, this is a terrible move on all accounts, when a complete roster is necessary to compete. It's been proven to fail time and time again, but we'll get to that later.
8 They Could Have Added Defensive Pieces
Again, since the Rams will have to face the likes of Arians' Cardinals, Russell Wilson, and Chip Kelly's 49ers this season, a strong defense is paramount to their success or failure. The secondary has been weakened after two major departures in Jenkins and McLeod, and while the front seven is fairly strong, it couldn't hurt to add some linebacker depth to the roster. By staying at 15th overall and keeping their draft picks, the Rams could have snagged a CB such as Eli Apple from Ohio State, or LB Reggie Ragland from Alabama. Those players are unlikely to be flat out busts, and would help soften the blow from the players lost in free agency.
7 Overcompensating For The New Fanbase Won't Work
With all the buzz about the Rams' move to L.A. this offseason, there's obviously many fans stemming back from the Rams' earlier stint in the city, who are excited to have them back. But the fact is that overcompensating and reaching for a franchise QB in year one isn't the way to go. Sure, it may pay short-term dividends for the organization's rapport with the fans, but the smarter long-term decision would be to strengthen the roster before throwing a young QB into the fire in a tough division. Instead, the trade up seems like a desperation move, pandering to the new (or old) fanbase.
6 They Have Todd Gurley
With the advent of Gurley in the Rams' offense, they are in a unique position to have a legitimately effective run-first system, that places less pressure on the QB position. Gurley went on a tear in his 13 games played last season. The rookie accumulated 1,106 yards and 10 TDs, averaging a strong 4.8 YPC. He's an incredibly powerful RB, with great vision that can get tough yards, possessing solid breakaway speed. While ideally an elite QB would be paired with him in the Rams' backfield, it isn't absolutely necessary, and trading draft picks in a reach to get one is completely unnecessary. Only competent QB play is needed with a RB such as Gurley, who has the ability to command the entire offense.
5 Next Year's QB Class Is Better Than This One
The Rams haven't won more than seven games in the past four years under Fisher, so what's one more mediocre season that puts them in mediocre to good draft position? Next year, they would be in a position to get, or yes, trade up for, Clemson standout Deshaun Watson, Brad Kaaya from Miami, or Chad Kelly from Ole Miss. Maybe Baker Mayfield from Oklahoma can develop his pocket passing, and a few other prospects flourish during the upcoming college season. Either way, it seems to be a stronger class than this one for bona fide NFL QBs. Watson has the ability to be a legitimate top five NFL talent, whereas Wentz and Goff are in that bracket because of the value on the position.
4 The Herschel Walker Trade Failed For The Vikings
The old adage "those who don't know their history, are doomed to repeat it" rings true in this situation. In 1989 the Vikings also figured they were one player away from a championship team and sold the farm for highly coveted Cowboy RB Herschel Walker. To be fair, Walker at his best was a great NFL player, but it was the plethora of draft picks the Cowboys acquired that allowed them to jettison their franchise into dynasty status in the 1990s. One player never makes a team, even if it is an elite player, and the Vikings paid for it mightily. In fact, the Rams have some prior experience in this kind of thing, when...
3 The RGIII Trade Failed For The Redskins
That's right, the Rams organization has literally been a part of essentially the same deal that spelled disaster for the Redskins when they sold the farm to the Rams for Robert Griffin III in 2012. Since one productive rookie season for Griffin, he has been first benched, then released into QB hell in Cleveland. While the 'Skins were able to salvage a division title last season, that was more a situation of injuries and controversy plaguing the rest of the division, than it was of them fielding a talented team, as evidenced by the trouncing they received at home by the Packers in the Wild Card round. Oh, and it wasn't RG3 leading the way, it was 4th round pick Kirk Cousins.
So, why didn't the Rams turn into a dynasty? Because they made the wrong picks. Their first round selections from 2012 to 2014 came in the form of Michael Brockers, Tavon Austin, Alec Ogletree, Aaron Donald and Greg Robinson. Out of those, only Donald has performed as a legitimate first round talent.
2 There Are Plenty Of Quality Prospects At 15th Overall
The bottom line is that the Rams could upgrade their team at 15th overall, by actually making the right selection. There's no need to trade away all of those draft picks when they could upgrade a valuable position where they originally stood in the draft. I've already mentioned CB Eli Apple and LB Reggie Ragland, but how about WR Laquon Treadwell from Ole Miss? Depth at DT with the departure of Nick Fairley may not be a bad idea either, and Sheldon Rankins could be on the board by then as well.
Of course, there's a chance that Memphis prospect Paxton Lynch could drop, who some are predicting to have the highest upside of any QB in the draft. Overall, there were plenty of options for the Rams right where they were.
1 Wentz And Goff Won't Live Up To The Hype
In today's NFL, it's no secret that the QB position is considered essential for success. As a result, the position has become increasingly valued over the past decade or so to the point where some marginal talents are being completely overrated into a sphere they simply don't belong in. I have reservations about how good both Wentz, who went to an FCS school that was already good without him, and Goff will be in the pro game at any draft position; but trading up for them is completely asinine.
Even at their ceilings, I don't see either prospect, while certainly capable starters in the NFL, being able to live up to a number one overall selection. Again, it's one thing to select one in the first round straight up, but it's another to potentially cripple the future of your team by giving multiple key draft picks over several years. If it was Andrew Luck it would be one thing, but Goff is a toss up and Wentz hasn't even been on the field against pro caliber players. Ultimately, the Rams have made a move that is bound to happen every so often in the modern game, but that doesn't make it any smarter of a move. They're playing with fire with this decision, and I expect it to hurt, more than help their cause.