A quarterback has been drafted first overall in 11 of the last 15 years, and it appears the trend of signal callers going No. 1 will continue in 2016. The Los Angeles Rams have acquired the top pick from the Tennessee Titans in this year’s NFL Draft, with hopes of finding their quarterback of the future.
The deal was similar to the one the Rams made four years ago, though they're on the other side of the trade this time around. In 2012, they sent multiple draft picks to the Washington Redskins, who moved up to No. 2 overall and selected Robert Griffin III. On Thursday morning, the Rams sent the No. 15 pick, two second-rounders, a third-round pick and next year’s first- and third-round picks to the Titans in exchange for the No. 1, No. 113 and No. 117 selections in this year’s draft.
Los Angeles is targeting one of two players: Jared Goff from California or Carson Wentz from North Dakota State. Giving up so much to move up 14 spots, it’s clear that the Rams believe one of them has a chance to be a star in the NFL. But there are conflicting reports regarding which player the Rams have their eyes on.
Goff and Wentz are the two highest-rated quarterbacks in the draft. Goff has been a top quarterback prospect since he threw 35 touchdown passes as a sophomore, and he might be the safest bet after throwing 43 scores and 13 interceptions in 2015. Wentz is more of a risk, playing just seven games as a senior and facing subpar competition in college, but his arm strength and natural ability give him the biggest upside of any quarterback in the 2016 draft class.
The Rams know all too well that drafting a quarterback with the No. 1 overall pick is a risky proposition. Sam Bradford didn’t work out like the team had hoped when they took him first overall in 2010, and they haven’t been to the playoffs since then. Four years after the Redskins traded a slew of picks to the Rams, Washington released Griffin, who had been benched for the entirety of 2015.
But if the Rams strike gold with the No. 1 pick, they could be a contender for years to come. The New York Giants traded multiple picks in 2004 in exchange for No. 1 overall pick Eli Manning, and he’s won two Super Bowl MVP awards in the last decade. Since the Indianapolis Colts drafted Andrew Luck first overall ahead of Griffin in 2012, the team has made the playoffs three times, including an appearance in the 2015 AFC Championship Game.
Thursday’s trade creates a domino effect that could shake up the top of the first round. The Cleveland Browns are potentially eyeing a quarterback at No. 2 overall, but the Rams could take the player that they covet.
Had they kept the No. 1 overall pick, the Titans would not have taken Goff or Wentz. Tennessee selected quarterback Marcus Mariota with their top selection in last year’s draft, and they were expected to draft either Ole Miss offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil or Florida State defensive back Jalen Ramsey.
Tunsil would have been the third tackle taken first overall, but Ramsey was looking to make history. It’s been 60 years since a defensive back was taken with the No. 1 pick. Ramsey was a consensus All-American in 2015, and his ability to play cornerback, nickel cornerback and safety at an elite level make him a valuable player in today’s NFL.
“It’ll be legendary, something that I dream of, think of all the time,” Ramsey told International Business Times at a promotional event for Speed Stick on Wednesday, when asked about the possibility of being taken first overall.
“If that doesn’t happen, it’s all right. I’ll be fine. It’s a blessing. I’ll feel happy going wherever. If I’m not picked No. 1 overall, that will just add fuel to my motivation to prove why I should have been chosen No. 1 overall.”
The Rams lost cornerback Janoris Jenkins to the Giants in free agency, but quarterback is their most glaring area of need. With Nick Foles and Case Keenum splitting time under center, the Rams arguably had the worst quarterback situation in the NFL last year. Even with the Rams getting such little production from the most important position in all of sports, they finished just one game under .500 while playing in a division with two playoff teams.
The Denver Broncos proved last season that having a great quarterback isn’t necessary in order to win a championship. In trading so much for one player, though, the Rams are resting much of their future on the arm of Goff or Wentz.