In a stunning move that shakes up the top of the draft and almost ensures that the Rams will be starting a rookie quarterback in 2016, the Tennessee Titans traded the No. 1 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft to the Los Angeles Rams, both teams announced Thursday morning.
The Rams, previously selecting at No. 15, are one of the lowest-picking team in NFL history to trade up to the No. 1 spot. The move, however, did not come cheap.
It is essentially the Rams' karmic payback for fleecing the Redskins back in 2012 for a treasure trove of picks that led to the selection of Robert Griffin III. The terms are as follows: Tennessee gets: Rams' first-round pick (2016), two second-round picks (2016), a third-round pick (2016), a first-round pick (2017) and another third-round pick (2017).
The acquisition has to be seen as a coup for new Titans general manager Jon Robinson. Already equipped with his quarterback of the future -- Marcus Mariota -- there were needs across the board that can now be addressed immediately. This year's draft has been viewed as one of the deepest for certain positions in half a decade, and the Titans now have the chance to fill several holes instead of one.
The Rams, on the other hand, are taking a gigantic risk. Prepping for the first season in Los Angeles, the team wanted to arrive on scene with a new face of the franchise. It is almost a guarantee that the Rams will end up with either Carson Wentz or Jared Goff. NFL Media's Albert Breer reported the Rams already have conducted on-campus workouts with both quarterbacks. They likely made the move fearing that the quarterback-needy Browns would take their preferred choice at No. 2.
"It is not often that you have the number one overall pick and we hope to not be in this position again, but we tried to use that pick as currency to work the draft and maximize player acquisition," Robinson said in a statement. "Being able to acquire six picks in the top 76 this year and additional picks next year, not only helps our depth but gives us ammunition to move in this year's draft and next. I know we now have the number 15 pick, but I would say it doesn't knock us out of any player except one. We now have the ammunition to work the draft and acquire players that are good for this football team. In terms of timing, it made sense for us to do this now as it gives us time to adjust and make sure we target more players."
The Rams have now truly engrained themselves in Hollywood -- so it goes with an aggressive owner in a new market with a team that has not had a winning record since 2003 or a playoff appearance since 2004. The team is also participating in HBO's training camp series, Hard Knocks, this August in an effort to drum up interest and acquire new fans in Los Angeles.
The last time the Rams attempted to select a quarterback with the No. 1 overall pick, they ended up with Sam Bradford. At the time, Bradford was viewed as a can't-miss prospect and one of the cleanest quarterbacks to hit the draft since John Elway. Bradford finished his tenure in St. Louis with an 18-30-1 record, a 58.6 completion percentage, 11,065 passing yards, 59 touchdowns and 38 interceptions.
The deal creates plenty of questions moving forward and shatters just about every mock draft in progress. Among the most interesting storylines:
» What does this mean for the Browns? There was a sense that Cleveland was also interested in one of the top two quarterback prospects. New head coach Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton were a heavy presence at both pro day workouts. The Browns, oddly enough, signed Robert Griffin III this offseason just in case. Also, new Browns executive Sashi Brown said there was significant interest in the No. 2 pick. Did the Rams try them first? After this trade, is there any interest remaining?
» Are the Chargers, Cowboys, Jaguars and Ravens celebrating right now? If the Browns also select a quarterback atop the draft, there is a chance that some excellent positional players slip down into the top 10 in a trickledown effect that could net these teams some players of desperate need.
» Are we underestimating the Titans moving forward? Tennessee just struck gold, but as we saw from the Rams-Redskins trade in 2012, there is still a chance to miss on a bevy of high picks. Still, Robinson gets the No. 15 overall selection in this year's draft and, at the moment, two first-round picks in next year's draft. He has three second-round picks and two thirds this year, too.
"We wanted to maximize the value of the pick for a long time, I've talked about that for a long time," Robinson said. "To be able to take that pick and use it for what we thought was the best decision for the football team and to acquire that many players and give us the ammunition to move up and down in the draft I would say it doesn't knock us out of moving back up in the first round. Obviously knocks us out of one player but only one player."
Robinson said discussions for the No. 1 pick began at the NFL Scouting Combine but "heated up" over the last several weeks. It seems like he finally got an offer he couldn't refuse.