The Los Angeles Rams have chosen to keep Les Snead as general manager after moving on from head coach Jeff Fisher. The decision comes with some controversy, as many experts tied Snead and Fisher together as a package deal since they joined the team in 2012.
In this series of articles, we’ll examine if this was the right decision by looking at the moves Les Snead has made as general manager of the St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams, starting with the 2012 NFL Draft. We’ll look at each pick and move that happened during the draft and give grades accordingly, starting with the infamous RGIII trade.
TRADE: Washington Redskins receive 2012 St. Louis First Round Pick (QB Robert Griffin III), St. Louis Rams receive 2012, 2013, and 2014 Washington First Round Pick, 2012 Second Round Pick – A+.
Les Snead got the king’s ransom in exchange for the rights to draft Robert Griffin III. They received two additional first round picks and an extra second round pick. The team was also able to continue moving forward with Sam Bradford at quarterback. Things didn’t work out as planned for either team after this trade, but this is a deal the Rams would 100% do again given the opportunity. They may have just done some other things with the picks they received from it.
TRADE: Dallas Cowboys receive 2012 Washington First Round Pick (CB Morris Claiborne), St. Louis Rams receive 2012 Dallas First and Second Round Picks – A.
After missing WR Justin Blackmon by one pick, which in hindsight was a gift from the football gods, the Rams swapped first round picks with the Cowboys and picked up an additional second round pick rather than panic and pick a guy they weren’t sold on. The only regret here is that All-Pro linebacker Luke Kuechly was taken just three picks after Claiborne.
Round 1, Pick 14 – St. Louis Rams select DT Michael Brockers – A.
The Rams chose to draft an interior lineman to pair with ends Chris Long and Robert Quinn, and Brockers turned out to be a solid addition to the group. Brockers has been a solid starter for the Rams over the past five seasons. Although he hasn’t quite panned out as some would expect out of a first round pick, it’s hard to complain about drafting a year-in year-out starter. Brokers was a fine pick.
Round 2, Pick 33 – St. Louis Rams select WR Brian Quick – D.
The only reason this pick isn’t an F is because Quick managed to stay on the roster for five seasons. The Rams opened the 2012 second round by selecting a project player out of Appalachian State. Quick had only played one year of football before college and slowly developed into a potential-filled standout at App State. But the Rams needed immediate help at receiver, and taking a player like Quick made little sense. Twelve picks later, the Chicago Bears were able to grab Alshon Jeffrey, a proven SEC-level wide receiver, who turned out to be a Pro Bowler. Jeffrey would have made much more sense for the Rams in this draft.
Round 2, Pick 39 – St. Louis Rams select CB Janoris Jenkins – A.
The troubled Janoris Jenkins had first round talent, but questionable intangibles dropped him down the draft board. The Rams took a chance on Jenkins with the 39th pick and he did not disappoint. Jenkins was a standout on the Rams defense from the get-go, scoring four touchdowns as a rookie and starting nearly every game for the Rams over the following four years.
The Rams chose to let Jenkins walk in the 2016 offseason, and he was selected to the Pro Bowl after his first season with the New York Giants. He was a steal this late in the draft and one of the better draft picks of the Snead era.
TRADE – Chicago Bears receive 2012 Dallas Cowboys Second Round Pick (Alshon Jeffrey), St. Louis Rams receive 2012 Chicago Bears Second and Fifth Round Picks – D.
Oh the irony here. The Rams only dropped back a few picks here, so grabbing an extra fifth round pick wasn’t a bad call. But it would have made more sense to grab Quick and Jeffrey than to do what the Rams did with these draft picks. This was a brutal move on Snead’s end.
Round 2, Pick 50 – St. Louis Rams select RB Isaiah Pead – F.
The Rams dropped back a few picks and selected Cincinatti RB Isaiah Pead as the heir apparent to Steven Jackson. The Rams were essentially held hostage to Isaiah Pead for four years. He found himself buried deep in the depth chart every year on the team and didn’t do anything to prove he deserved to be any higher. Maybe Pead would have been a good player given the chance, but he never earned the chance and it was never given to him.
Round 3, Pick 65 – St. Louis Rams select CB Trumaine Johnson – A+.
Finding a talent like Trumaine Johnson anytime past the first round is always worth an A+. Johnson and Jenkins formed a formidable pass defense for the Rams during their four years together. The Rams found a great tandem of players, and it’s a shame that neither may be wearing horns in 2017.
Round 4, Pick 96 – St. Louis Rams select WR Chris Givens – C.
For a fourth round pick, Givens did find some success with the Rams as a legit deep threat. Givens played well during his first two years with the team before being buried on the depth chart and traded to the Ravens in 2015. It’s genuinely surprising that Givens fell out of the NFL so fast, but he did not play in the league during the 2016 regular season. He did okay for a fourth round pick.
Round 5, Pick 150 – St. Louis Rams select G Rokevious Watkins – F. Watkins showed up to camp overweight and was cut after one season with the Rams.
So for those keeping score at home, Snead essentially traded Alshon Jeffrey for Isaiah Pead and Rokevious Watkins. Yikes.
Round 6, Pick 171 – St. Louis Rams select K Greg Zuerlein – A.
It’s kind of amazing that the Rams selecting a DII kicker turned out to be one of the better late round steals of the Snead era. Zuerlein hasn’t been perfect, but his kicking power has made him a great asset to have as he can hit from 60 yards easily. Greg the Leg has been a staple of the Rams special teams unit for years and should continue to be moving forward.
Round 7, Pick 209 – St. Louis Rams select LB Aaron Brown – F.
Brown never played in the NFL, but I’m not going to hold a bad seventh round pick against Snead.
Round 7, Pick 252 – St. Louis Rams select RB Daryl Richardson – B.
There was a time when the Rams believed that the second to last pick in the 2012 NFL Draft was going to be Steven Jackson’s replacement. Richardson earned the backup role over Pead and became a key player in the Rams offense in 2012. Richardson was so impressive that he actually was the Rams starting tailback for Week 1 of the 2013 season. The hype died down after that, but Richardson is still floating around the league even now. I’d say that’s solid for a guy drafted 252nd.
Underrated Free Agents – A+.
The Rams picked up some key UDFAs during Snead’s first year with the Rams. The most notable is punter Johnny Hekker, who has grown into the best punter in the NFL and a four-time All-Pro. Hekker alone would have given Snead an “A” here, but he also signed safety Rodney McLeod, who grew into a team captain and starter for a few years. Snead struck gold with the UDFAs in 2012.
Overall Draft Grade: B+
Snead did a fine job in his first NFL Draft. Unfortunately, this easily could have been an A+ draft with a few changes.
Highs: Snead really got his money’s worth for RG3. He also struck gold in the secondary, nabbing the tandem of Trumaine Johnson and Janoris Jenkins at a great value and signed Rodney McLeod as an UDFA. The trio made up three of the four starters in the dangerous 2015 Rams secondary. He also formed the special teams of the future with Hekker and Zuerlein.
Lows: It’s tough revisiting this draft and seeing what could have been with Quick and Pead. I mean the Rams literally traded away the Alshon Jeffrey pick, a selection that could have been useful even if they also took Brian Quick. Since they drafted Chris Givens in the fourth round, they clearly did not mind taking two receivers in one draft. The second round could have just as easily been OT Mitchell Schwartz, Janoris Jenkins, and Alshon Jeffrey, which would have turned this into one of the Rams’ best drafts period. Instead the Rams took a project receiver that failed and a running back that we may have not needed to begin with.
Overall, the 2012 NFL Draft was a solid start for Les Snead despite the mistakes. Stay tuned to see how 2013 looked.
Steve Rebeiro is a staff writer and podcast host for Rams Talk. He graduated from Marquette University in 2016. For more of his opinions, follow him on Twitter here or check out his podcast Tejas and Lil Stevie.