Stan McNeal goes one-on-one with Rams GM Les Snead to talk NFL Draft
ST. LOUIS — This usually would be the busiest week of the year for Les Snead. But because the 2014 NFL Draft won’t begin until May 8 — 17 days and counting — Monday was a meeting-free day for the Rams’ GM.
He even had a few minutes to meet in his office at Rams Park with FOXSportsMidwest.com to talk about what the Rams might do with their 12 picks, which include the second and 13th picks overall. In addition to the pair of first-rounders, the Rams also have multiple selections in rounds six (two) and seven (four).
Though those final six picks all fall between 188th and 250th overall, the Rams are giving the bottom half of their draft board unprecedented attention. If the draft still took place in the last week of April, there would not be as much time to study the final rounds.
"We’ve gone through the normal motions on the best part of the board," Snead said. "But we do have seven picks in rounds five through seven. Let’s take this time to win that area of the draft. It might be hard for 12 (picks) to make your team since we’ve got a young team, but instead of waiting, you might be able to use some of those picks as ammo and move up to get guys you really want."
Three of the Rams’ last four picks, however, cannot be traded because they are compensatory picks awarded for losing players to free agency in recent years.
Of course, the focus of everyone in the Rams’ world — including Snead and his staff — is on the second and 13th overall picks. While Snead didn’t go specific — understandably so — he admitted this is a very good year to have two such high picks.
"Here’s what’s neat: Two and 13 sound good on paper, but in this draft, two and 13 are really good," he said. "Whatever scenario you go with, it’s going to work out."
Based on speculation more than Snead’s interview, scenarios at No. 2 include:
— Taking an offensive lineman, such as Greg Robinson of Auburn or Jake Matthews of Texas A&M. Snead didn’t talk names, but Robinson makes more sense than Matthews because Robinson is a more accomplished run blocker. And Snead left no doubt that the Rams’ offense will be built around the running game.
— Taking receiver Sammy Watkins of Clemson. He wouldn’t seem to fit the team’s run-first plan, but his talent is considered that special. While the Rams used two high picks on receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey last year, they still lack a bona fide No. 1. Watkins is expected to be that type of player. "Sammy is going to be a difference-maker in this league," Snead said.
— Trading the pick. This is a more likely option if the Houston Texans don’t take Jadeveon Clowney with the first pick. At this point, if the Texans know what they are planning to do at No. 1, they aren’t saying. Reports surfaced Monday that the Texans might prefer Khalil Mack, a second-team All-American linebacker from Buffalo, over Clowney.
That could be draft hyperbole or the Texans might believe Mack would adjust more quickly to their 3-4 defense. Or maybe, as Snead suggested, there’s not as much difference between the two defensive studs as perceived because of the media.
"Khalil Mack put up some very nice combine numbers," Snead said. "He’s 250-plus and ran 4.5. He has done nothing but disrupt the quarterback for two straight years from a 3-4 system, where Clowney’s got his hand in the dirt in a three-point stance. If you’re going to take him and stand him up (in a 3-4), you’re going to have some growing pains."
Still, Snead said he would be "surprised but not shocked" if the Texans do not go with Clowney. But if he doesn’t go No. 1, Snead will be ready for his phone to ring.
"There’s no sign up that we’re definitely selling, but we’ll definitely listen," he said. "I don’t have an asking price, but if there’s some bids that come in, you listen to them, put them on the scale and weigh."
The Texans have given few solid clues about their intentions but Snead expects they will well before the Rams are on the clock.
"I will be shocked if in today’s age, the (name in the) envelope is held until draft day," he said. "It’s going to be close to the draft, but I think we’re going to know. I just have a gut feeling."
As well as two extra weeks to hope they do.
You can follow Stan McNeal on Twitter at @stanmcneal or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.