– Rams GM Les Snead and HC Jeff Fisher took part in the annual pre-draft press conference Monday afternoon and, as expected, not much was revealed though a few breadcrumbs were dropped along the way.
– Of course, at this time of year, it’s hard to decipher what’s real and what’s not but if nothing else, Fisher and Snead were upfront and honest from the beginning about one thing: whether or not they were going to be honest. Snead went so far as to ask for forgiveness in advance if not everything said was “totally accurate” in Monday’s discussion.
– From there, Fisher and Snead answered questions about a variety of topics. We’ll cover some of that here and I’ll have more in draft previews coming tomorrow and Wednesday. Also coming Wednesday, we’ll have mock draft guesses from myself, 101 ESPN’s Tony Softli and our draft analyst Matt Feminis.
– Over the course of the next few days, most of what happens will be dotting i’s and crossing t’s. That’s because the past month has been finalizing discussions on how to stack the board, rating players and going through pre-draft visits and workouts.
– Right now, the Rams are still running through the scenarios for this year’s draft. Perhaps the toughest part of the job this year is trying to nail down how things will play out in front of them. This is the scenario game where they try to get a handle on who could be there and who will be long gone by the time they pick. It’s a difficult exercise but Fisher said he believes the team has a decent handle on it right now.
– Along with that, Fisher also discussed the possibility of some positions where the Rams do not have interest that could be helpful for them come draft night. In addition to quarterback, where Fisher joked he’d only looked at quarterbacks because they throw to receivers, he also mentioned 3-4 OLBs. The more players at those positions that come off the board before the Rams, the better.
– On the topic of trading up, Fisher acknowledged it was a possibility and went on to say that although they’d have to give up an extra pick to do so, they could recoup that pick by moving down with their other first. So, yes, breaking news: the Rams could trade up or trade down in this year’s draft.
– Either way, Snead said the Rams will definitely be taking calls and having some fun with it in the run up to the draft as well as during. There are strong indications the Rams would really like to move down from at least one of their picks this year.
– Snead agreed with the assessment that the strength of this draft is from around the 10th pick to the 50th but also made it a point to mention that every draft is full of players that can help your team.
– Off the topic of the draft for just a moment, Fisher said OT Rodger Saffold is in the building, there are no problems with him and that the first day of the offseason program began with 100 percent player attendance.
– As for taking risks on players with some off the field baggage, Snead and Fisher again re-iterated their case by case philosophy. In other words, they’ll look at the individual rather than using one hard and fast rule to take a player off their board. Fisher said there are players they have labeled as undraftable this year just like last year if those players fall below the established criteria.
– Asked about doubling down on a position like they did last year with WR and CB, Snead said it’s not an absolute because so many factors come into play but that he does like to bolster a position significantly if the value is there.
– There has been much speculation about the wide receiver position as the Rams have again made it clear they are in the market for help there. Fisher and Snead answered multiple questions about the wideout group:
Snead said he believed it is the position that is the toughest transition for a rookie in the NFL and made it pretty clear that it’s difficult to expect some kind of outstanding production from a rookie at the position.
The Rams have taken a number of visits to campus to work out receivers much like they did last year. Snead said that can be beneficial because you can see those players attempt to run your routes and work in your offensive concepts.
On that subject, Fisher poked fun at a report that placed him and Snead at Clemson today for a workout with WR DeAndre Hopkins. Fisher joked “I was just informed I am at Clemson right now.”
Fisher went on to say he sees this as a good receiver class and thinks help can be found throughout the draft.
– Asked directly what he thinks of “small” receivers, an obvious reference to West Virginia WR Tavon Austin, Fisher gave an interesting answer. He said he thinks smaller receivers can work with taller quarterbacks, the idea being that it’s easier for a taller QB to see over the defense and deliver the ball to a smaller wideout. If the QB is small and the WR is small, Fisher said, it could be a problem. In this case, it’s safe to assume QB Sam Bradford is considered tall so it wouldn’t be an issue for the Rams to add a smaller receiver.
– On the topic of running backs, Snead acknowledged the idea that they can be found later in the draft but also said that if you believe strongly in a player, you should take him when you can. He used the analogy that Adrian Peterson is a great player who went in the top 10 and certainly would be viewed as such now.
– Fisher was again asked about his philosophy on drafting offensive linemen in the first round. It’s not something he’s done much of in his career and there’s a theory that he will not ever do it. But Fisher said that’s not a hard and fast rule though he does believe if the proper work is done, players on the offensive line can be identified and quality players can be brought in throughout the draft.
– Now Snead and Fisher can return to the draft bunker and do some final tweaking and finalizing. Nothing drastic will happen in terms of the board between now and Thursday night but sometimes there are little moves that can make a difference or come close to making a difference. For example, last year the Rams made a change on their board that elevated DT Michael Brockers above DT Fletcher Cox the day of the draft. As it turned out, Cox went ahead of Brockers anyway but it could have left the Rams with an interesting discussion to revisit on draft night last year had it gone another way.
– Anyway, expect plenty more to come in the next few days and all kinds of coverage beginning Thursday night. For now, thanks for reading.
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