Griffin deal fuels Rams rebuilding effort
ST. LOUIS (AP) — The pricey Robert Griffin III trade was worth it to the Washington Redskins, who won the NFC East after finishing last the previous four years. The St. Louis Rams already consider themselves the real winners in the deal, and they’re still getting paid off.
The Rams gave up the second overall pick in 2012 for a quarterback they did not need to move down just four spots, in return receiving future considerations galore. After additional jockeying during the draft, the Rams came away with starting defensive tackle Michael Brockers and cornerback Janoris Jenkins, plus promising running back Isaiah Pead and offensive guard Rokevious Watkins.
In addition to the 16th pick Thursday night, the Rams have the Redskins’ 22nd selection, plus Washington’s first-rounder in 2014. That’s several more shots at stockpiling a 7-8-1 team that made a six-win improvement under new coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead.
Sure, they’d do that trade again.
“The fun part about that one is it’s still going and we haven’t even gotten to this year yet,” Snead said in an interview with The Associated Press. “Those picks, they keep me up late, wake me up in the middle of the night, get me up early out of pure excitement. I’m jacked about that thing every day.”
The Rams could look to replace departed running back Steven Jackson and wide receiver Danny Amendola, with perhaps Eddie Lacy or Tavon Austin among the possibilities. They’re still in building mode, too, one year removed from the worst five-year stretch in NFL history, and could rely on players they drafted at those spots last year and trade either or both picks for even more choices.
At the team’s pre-draft news conference Monday, Snead described the days leading up to the first round as the “campaign season” and added, “Don’t be offended if everything we say up here is not totally accurate.”
For the time being, they have eight selections, one each in the final six rounds, which means the NFL’s youngest roster could get even younger.
“Hey, we’re not timid,” Snead said. “So, if we think we need to go get somebody, we’ll go get somebody. If we think moving back to add more picks is beneficial for the long-term success of this organization, we’ll do that, too.”
The Rams could invest a first-round pick in a safety, given they need two new starters after Craig Dahl left in free agency and Quintin Mikell was released to save salary cap space, leaving Darian Stewart as the only player on the roster with starting experience.
They’re looking for a starter at outside linebacker, too.
“There’s still a multitude of positions we can look at,” Snead said. “The focus will continue to narrow as we build.”
What they don’t need is a quarterback. Their belief in Sam Bradford, the No. 1 overall pick in 2010, led to them accumulating 10 picks in the first and second rounds over a three-year stretch.
Snead said he hadn’t scouted any quarterbacks. Fisher said he had, “because they throw to receivers.”
Next season, Bradford will be in the same system in consecutive seasons for the first time as a pro and he’ll be playing behind a line bolstered by free agent pickup Jake Long at left tackle. Fisher said the Rams began their offseason program a week ago with 100 percent attendance and there have been “no issues” with Rodger Saffold, whose agent was unhappy earlier about his client switching to right tackle.
“He’s having fun, working out, really good shape, Fisher added.
Watkins, a fourth-round pick who missed virtually his entire rookie season with an ankle injury, figures to be in the mix.
The Rams have a pair of running backs who together might fill Jackson’s shoes.
Seventh-rounder Daryl Richardson jumped ahead of Pead in training camp as the change-of-pace back behind Jackson last year and had 475 yards and a 4.8-yard average while Pead got just 10 carries. Both could get plenty of work next week with Jackson taking a deal in Atlanta after eight straight 1,000-yard seasons, but neither are the physical back Fisher prizes.
The later pick had the biggest NFL debut at wide receiver, too, with fourth-rounder Chris Givens emerging as a deep threat with a team-leading 16.6-yard average on 43 catches and second-rounder Brian Quick limited to just 11 catches. Jared Cook, a tight end with wide receiver speed signed in free agency, will help the Rams replace Amendola’s team-leading 63 receptions as the slot receiver.
“What happens a lot of times is you draft some people, they don’t play as much because you have a veteran, and you forget about those players,” Snead said. “To be successful, you have to build, develop and coach. You take a young player and as the years go on you put him on the field more and more.”