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Is the Rams’ model when it comes to the NFL Draft one that GM Steve Keim should be copying?

Looking at the track record of the general manager, one could argue he should take a page out of a divisional rival’s book

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Los Angeles Rams Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Since taking over the Cardinals’ GM position in 2013, General Manager Steve Keim has not shied away from making a savvy trade or two.

Neither, of course, has one of his rivals in Rams GM Les Snead.

Snead’s latest acquisition was a blockbuster: trading away two future first-round picks and a 3rd round pick this year along with franchise quarterback Jared Goff to the Detroit Lions for QB Matthew Stafford.

In doing so, the Rams added a more talented veteran and managed to pass off the contract they had signed Jared Goff to, in an effort to make a push for a Super Bowl victory in the next few years.

This was merely the latest in a long line of trades and acquisitions made by Snead since he took over the job of managing the organization in 2012....where he made his first splash by trading away the rights to draft Robert Griffin III for three first-round picks.

Those picks turned into the following players (and while not as impressive...the sheer quantity was staggering):

However, after Sean McVay became the head coach, a noticable change in philosophy occurred. Snead seemingly shifted from being a “trade down to get more darts to throw at the dartboard” sort of general manager who would be trading back for more or future picks to one who instead invested heavily into high draft picks or proven commodities:

This goes deeper than simply the Matthew Stafford or Jalen Ramsey trades:

Indeed, the Rams have poured around 7 years of first round resources into just 4 first-round players...with only 2 on the roster.: Stafford, Ramsey, Cooks and Goff. And when you consider the fact that both Stafford and Goff are quarterbacks, it’s really only 3 positions...and a stunning four first round draft picks to find their 32 year old franchise quarterback all said and done.

Also incredibly, the Rams don’t even have Brandin Cooks on their roster after trading the wide receiver to the Houston Texans for a second-round pick...meaning that all of these trades resulted in two players.

The outlier year, 2018, the Rams traded back THREE times for more picks, but clearly that seems to be an outlier in moving out of the first round.

So what is the reason that Steve Keim should learn from the Rams? After all, isn’t it this sort of trading and investing into a handful of players something that could doom him?

When it comes to first-round picks...perhaps not. The history of Steve Keim’s first round picks is as follows from 2013 to 2020:

  1. Jonathan Cooper, OG, 7th overall (traded to New England for Chandler Jones, FA in 2020)
  2. Deone Bucannon, S, 27th overall (not retained by the team, signed with the Bucs)
  3. D.J. Humphries, OT, 24th overall (re-signed by the team to a 3 year deal)
  4. Robert Nkemdiche, DT, 29th overall (released by team entering 2019 season, currently a FA)
  5. Haason Reddick, LB, 13th overall (current FA, moved from ILB to OLB and had 12.5 sacks after moving to edge)
  6. Josh Rosen, QB, 10th overall (current Niners 3rd string QB, traded to Dolphins then released)
  7. Kyler Murray, QB, 1st overall (TBD, Offensive Rookie of the Year & Pro Bowler)
  8. Isaiah Simmons, LB, 8th overall (TBD)

If taking into account the early returns of Murray and the “push” of Haason Reddick, out of the qualifying 7 picks that Steve Keim has made, only two have been solid ones that returned equal to their investment: Kyler Murray and D.J. Humphries.

Haason Reddick rectified some of this and could probably be “passable” if the team retains him but one year of production isn’t much. After that it’s brutal.

Meanwhile, a look at some of the trades that Steve Keim has made:

  • Traded a conditional 7th round pick for Carson Palmer
  • Traded a 2nd and Jonathan Cooper for Chandler Jones
  • Traded a 2nd, David Johnson and a 4th for Deandre Hopkins and another 4th.
  • Traded a 5th for RB Kenyan Drake
  • Traded a 7th for CB Marcus Cooper
  • Traded Josh Rosen for a 2nd round pick (a year after moving from 15 to 10 for a 3rd and a 5th)

There’s a few trades that went south such as trading away FB Anthony Sherman or a pick traded to acquire Jamar Taylor, or the time Keim traded back from Brandin Cooks for Deone Bucannon & John Brown....but...wow.

Quite honestly, Keim’s ability to diagnose professional talent and acquire it at less-than-premium value that exceeds expectations is maybe...incredible.

And it isn’t even simply one position but rather a variety of positions on both sides of the field. The pro-personnel scouting of players to acquire that Keim has done is on point.

So I’ll take it one step further...Keim needs to embrace his strengths. When looking at the Rams, they’ve been able to add multiple pro players by trading first round picks.

And so has Keim with Arizona...just not with first-round picks.

So why not go all the way?

With Kyler Murray still under a rookie contract, the Cards have a bit more cap flexibility to be able to sell the farm and add quality players with first-round picks or even multiple firsts.

Need a cornerback? A defensive lineman?

Why add a rookie on a cost-controlled contract if you’re Steve Keim and have struggled to diagnose talent historically versus put him in one of his strengths? Making trades.

I would propose that Keim adopt the Rams model and trade first round picks for proven talent for the foreseeable future.

It might not be the cheaper talent of a rookie deal. But it’s talent. And talent buys you time which is what Keim needs about now.

Wanna make a deal?