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What have Rams gotten out of all those 1st round draft picks they’ve traded since 2016?

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By: Kenneth Arthur

Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Did L.A. get fair value for all those trades?

In 2015, the Los Angeles Rams did something that they haven’t done again in any of the seven years since: General manager Les Snead held tight with his first round pick and selected running back Todd Gurley with the 10th overall selection.

Over the next four years, Gurley won Offensive Rookie of the Year, Offensive Player of the Year, made three Pro Bowl and All-Pro rosters, led the NFL in touchdowns, and helped the Rams reach the Super Bowl.

That’s what happened the last time Snead simply kept his first round pick and then used it on a prospect. Here are the results of every first round draft pick since then:

2016, 2017 first round picks – Jared Goff

Return: Five seasons, 69 starts, two Pro Bowls, one Super Bowl appearance

In addition to two first round picks, the Rams also sent the Titans two seconds and two thirds. A fourth and a sixth went back to L.A.. For what it’s worth, it is the second of the 2016 second round picks that became Derrick Henry.

Goff did a number of good things for the Rams, but any time you use two first round picks on a player who only spends five seasons with your franchise, that’s at least a bit of a loss. Even if he’s a quarterback. Goff has a hard time living up to his status as the number one overall pick, let alone one who cost the Rams two day one selections and four day two selections.

The Rams also managed to give Goff a huge contract extension before he left.

Expected number of seasons out of two first round picks: Eight combined seasons+two fifth-year options.

2018 first round pick – Brandin Cooks

Cooks contributed 80 catches and 1,204 yards with five touchdowns in 2018, then 19 catches for 292 yards in three playoff games. He played in 14 games the next season and then was traded to the Houston Texans, with a second round pick (Van Jefferson) coming back to the Rams.

The Rams also managed to give Cooks a huge contract extension before he left.

Expected number of seasons out of a first round pick: Four+fifth-year option.

2019 first round pick – Traded down with Falcons (Taylor Rapp)

The Rams had pick 31 in 2019 and they dropped all the way down to pick 45 when the Falcons wanted to move up for offensive lineman Kaleb McGary. The Rams received a third round pick in return for moving down 14 spots, which feels acceptable but a little underwhelming. Some of the players who the Rams decided were not essential were Deebo Samuel, Byron Murphy, and Elgton Jenkins, all of whom went between 31 and 45.

When the Rams were on the clock again, the traded down with Patriots, going from 45 to 56. The return for moving down another 11 spots was pick 101.

A couple of players who went between 45 and 56 were A.J. Brown and Miles Sanders, now both helping the Eagles get to 7-0. When the Rams were on the clock at 56, they traded down to 61, adding a fifth rounder from the Chiefs.

At 61, the Rams selected safety Taylor Rapp.

The other players they got as a result of their three trade downs, also involving multiple other trade downs: David Long (pick 79), Bobby Evans (97), Greg Gaines (134), Nick Scott (243)

The Rams could have had one player on the normal first round contract (four years+fifth year option) but instead came out with about five players, by my count. (They also traded a sixth rounder to the Falcons.) And all five of those players are still on the team! But on the other hand, are any of them substantially good?

2020, 2021 first round picks – Jalen Ramsey

The Rams also traded a fourth round pick to the Jaguars in this deal, but it eventually came back to L.A. and became Robert Rochell.

Ramsey has given the Rams 47 regular season games and six playoff games of high-level cornerback play. He became the NFL’s highest paid defensive back in 2021. Ramsey has made first team All-Pro in each of the last two years and helped the Rams win the Super Bowl.

The Jaguars drafted K’Lavon Chaisson and Travis Etienne with their two first round picks, but this is neither here nor there.

Expected number of seasons out of two first round picks: Four years+fifth-year option x 2.

2022, 2023 first round picks – Matthew Stafford

The Rams also included Goff and a third round pick in the deal.

Stafford helped the Rams win the Super Bowl in his first season with L.A., throwing 41 touchdown passes. Like Goff, Cooks, and Ramsey, Stafford also signed a massive contract extension with the Rams, adding $160 million to his eventual career earnings with a deal signed this year.

The Lions ended up with pick 32 this year, but if the Rams don’t improve their current season trajectory, the 2023 draft pick will be much higher.

Stafford’s first season with the team went about as well as reasonably expected. His second season has been marred by poor offensive line play, no chemistry with receivers other than Cooper Kupp, no run game, and turnovers. This issues could stem from a lack of talent acquired via the draft.

Expected number of seasons out of two first round picks: Four years+fifth-year option x 2.

Extension history with trade acquisitions:

2019 – Rams extend Goff ($134m), 2021-2024 seasons (never reached contract)

2019 – Rams extend Cooks ($80m), 2019-2023 seasons (one year on contract)

2020 – Rams extend Ramsey ($100m), 2021-2025 seasons (second year on contract)

2022 – Rams extend Stafford ($160m), 2023-2026 seasons

Whether this was the best strategy or not is a matter of debate, even having won a Super Bowl; we haven’t seen the control version of the team that doesn’t trade picks and tested if that team could also win a Super Bowl around Aaron Donald. But for what it is worth, the Rams could have drafted players in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022 and had seven players on rookie contracts. Only Goff and the Taylor Rapp draft class were on rookie deals with the Rams.

Will Les Snead trade his 2024 and 2025 draft picks next?