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Broncos could learn from Rams history of dealing first-round picks

Feb 4, 2021, 6:35 AM | Updated: 6:43 am
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 29: Quarterback Jared Goff of the Los Angeles Rams (left), the first overal...
(Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
(Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)

This past weekend saw the Rams trade former top pick Jared Goff, along with two more first-round picks, to the Detroit Lions for Matthew Stafford, which means Los Angeles will be without a first-round pick until 2024.

In fact, the Rams haven’t drafted a player in the first round since Goff went No. 1 overall in 2016.

But, should the Denver Broncos follow the same strategy?

Since Sean McVay was hired as the Rams’ head coach in 2017, the club has yet been connected to a first-round pick. During that span, Los Angeles has a record of 43-21 and didn’t have a below-.500 season at any point.

And don’t forget the team’s three postseason appearances, including a trip to Super Bowl LIII in 2018.

With their success during the past four seasons, McVay and Rams general manager Les Snead may have discovered a formula that works and gives their team a chance to compete for a championship each year.

After the 2015 season, the Rams held the 15th pick in the NFL Draft. But, as they were in need of a franchise quarterback, Los Angeles made a big trade for the No. 1-overall selection, with which they selected Goff.

The Rams ended up sending the Tennessee Titans two first-round picks, two second-round picks and a third-round pick. The following season, Los Angeles hired McVay and finished with a 11-5 record and a playoff berth.

First-round picks have become trade bait for the Rams, acquiring known elite players instead of drafting and developing them. For instance, in 2018 the Rams needed a playmaker on offense and traded a first-round and sixth-round pick to the New England Patriots for wide receiver Brandin Cooks and a fourth-rounder.

In 2019, Los Angeles traded out of the first round and moved down in the draft to gain more picks in the middle rounds.

Needing more secondary help, the Rams traded for elite cornerback Jalen Ramsey, giving up two first-round and a fourth-round pick for arguably the best corner in the game.

And this offseason, with issues behind the scenes with their franchise quarterback, Los Angeles traded for a new one — Stafford — giving up more top picks.

Since the Rams didn’t own a first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, they sent Goff as this year’s “first-round” asset, along with a third-round pick. Los Angeles also sent Detroit a first-round pick in 2022 and 2023.

The Rams figured out they can find and develop good talent in the second, third and fourth-rounds. The more the selections, the more variety of players to hit on in the long run.

With the Broncos in need of a franchise quarterback, could Denver create a similar package to acquire Deshaun Watson as what the Rams sent to the Titans to take Goff as the top pick in 2016? Again, that was two first-rounders, two second-rounders and a third-rounder.

Does it make sense for the Broncos to go after a known elite player or draft and develop one with the ninth-overall pick?

Before being hired as the new Broncos general manager, George Paton helped the Minnesota Vikings draft 17 Pro Bowlers from 2007 to 2020. And of those, eight were drafted after the first round.

If Denver wants to go get an elite quarterback, cornerback or even a middle linebacker, they can do it. They have the draft capital to make trades. And history shows the Broncos wouldn’t have to trade away their young talent either.

If Paton wants to be aggressive and rebuild this team quickly, he should be willing to trade away first-round picks for proven elite talent and show he can draft solid starting players in Rounds 2-5.

Hall of Famer executive Bill Polian always said there’s only 18 players that enter the draft that have a first-round grade.

Why draft a player late in the first-round when you can trade back and use two picks in the second-round for the same value?

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