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By: Evan Craig
The 2023 rookie class alone should thrust Snead into consideration
In March, I wrote how Los Angeles Rams general manager Les Snead should be on the hot seat if the team endears another rough season. I noted how winning a Super Bowl has only bought Snead so much time. So how much time has an incredible draft class bought him?
For the 2023 draft class alone, Les Snead should be a candidate for NFL Executive of the Year.
His drafting of immediate impact players such as Puka Nacua, Steve Avila, Byron Young, Kobie Turner and Ethan Evans has saved the Rams from irrelevance. Nacua was considered a front-runner for OROY early in the year. Young should be in the mix for DROY honors. Turner has been one of the most underrated defenders at his position. Avila is a mauler and has helped keep Matthew Stafford upright. Evans has proven time and time again that punters freaking fracking rock as he routinely bombs a monster kick at least once a game.
LG Steve Avila
WR Puka Nacua
OLB Byron Young
DT Kobe Turner
P Ethan Evans
All have started every game and been some of the best players on the team
— Hunter (@WhamHussell) November 13, 2023
Snead desperately needed a quality draft class to reload the team back to prominence and he delivered. The wins haven’t been coming with LA sitting at 3-6 entering Week 11. LA’s early season efforts has staved off any hot seat talk for a LONG TIME, even though Snead’s job was never in danger to begin with. Although we must admit, things were looking pretty bleak for a while.
The criticism towards LA’s GM entering the 2023 season was justified to an extent. Snead’s “F them picks” approach handicapped the Rams following Super Bowl LVI and reverted them from a championship contender to an NFC has-been.
In the offseason, he also failed to get much of a return for top players like Jalen Ramsey, Leonard Floyd (aka Buffalo’s “12th man”) and Bobby Wagner just to name a few. The lack of a quality return for Ramsey framed my reasoning for why I said Snead deserved to be on the hot seat.
Like all top-tier NFL GMs, Snead admitted his mistakes and moved on the best way he possibly could. Drafting Van Jefferson in the 2020 NFL Draft proved to be a bust. Jefferson was traded to the Falcons for a late-round pick and is still as ineffective in Atlanta as he was in LA’s first five games. Allen Robinson, a free agent acquisition from last season, has done nothing in Pittsburgh. In his defense, he plays with an offensive coordinator who has zero clue what the hell he’s doing but that’s besides the point.
Calvin Austin III: 15 receptions, 165 yards, and 1 TD.
Allen Robinson: 19 receptions, 154 yards, and zero TDs.
The Steelers need to address the WR3 position in FA and the NFL Draft next season if they’re expecting Kenny Pickett and the passing game to improve.
— Billy Hartford (@BudDupreeFan) November 14, 2023
Besides a stellar draft class, Snead made one of the best moves in the league back in August when he traded for Steelers offensive guard Kevin Dotson. Dotson has started just six games in Los Angeles, yet has been playing like an All-Pro every time he takes the field. Snead getting him for virtually nothing was an absolute steal.
• 2024 5th RD pick
• 2025 6th RD pick
• An All-Pro caliber offensive guard
• 2024 4th RD pick
• 2025 5th RD pick
Hopefully those focused on criticizing Les Snead’s moves of late can see that acquiring Kevin Dotson was an absolute STEAL. https://t.co/eB5pHSgT2n
— Jake Gould (@jakegould10) November 15, 2023
Snead truly deserves to be a candidate for Executive of the Year but LA’s lack of progress in the win column is going to hurt his case. Texans GM Nick Caserio is likely the front-runner for the award given Houston’s surprising playoff push thanks to the emergence of rookie sensation C.J. Stroud. When scouring through the list of the last five award winners, all were executives of teams that had made the playoffs:
2022 – Howie Roseman (Philadelphia Eagles)
Finished: 14-3, lost Super Bowl LVII
2021 – Bill Belichick (New England Patriots)
Finished: 10-7, lost in Wild Card Round
2020 – Brandon Beane (Buffalo Bills)
Finished: 13-3, lost AFC Championship
2019 – John Lynch (San Francisco 49ers)
Finished: 13-3, lost Super Bowl LIV
2018 – Chris Ballard (Indianapolis Colts)
Finished: 10-6, lost in Divisional Round
Whether or not Snead wins or is even considered for NFL Executive of the Year shouldn’t matter. Snead has provided the building blocks to a strong foundation. If LA’s draft class continues to play well in the long run, it’ll be more rewarding than a playoff berth this season. Their progress will ultimately determine how the Rams recover from their post-Super Bowl rut.
Plus, I’ll be curious to see whether Snead can maintain his momentum in the 2024 NFL Draft. LA will have a first-rounder for the first time since 2016. Snead can go in any direction he pleases as the Rams have several positions needing to be addressed.
Despite a three-game losing streak, I’m positive about the direction the Rams are going. For that reason, Les Snead has my vote.