The Rams' big move to trade up to get a quarterback only further proves the value of the position, and the advantage that teams that have a QB --- like Seattle with Russell Wilson --- have over the rest.
Thursday’s trade by the Los Angeles Rams to move up to the No. 1 spot in the 2016 NFL draft obviously could have some long-lasting ramifications on the NFC West. The Rams have had a playoff-caliber defense for a few years (as the Seahawks found out again last December) and a dynamic young running back in Todd Gurley. What they have lacked since basically the end of the Kurt Warner era is a quarterback, with the drafting of Sam Bradford first overall in 2010 having shown again the difficulty of landing an elite player at that position.
Should the Rams find the QB they are looking for (possibly Carson Wentz or maybe Jared Goff), then they might become the contender in the NFC West they have appeared close to being the past few years. They have failed to take that final step toward division contention mostly due to a balky offense.
Here are three other Seahawks-related thoughts on the trade:
1. The Rams’ aggressive move to get a quarterback proves anew the value of Russell Wilson. The Rams paid a high price to move up 14 spots for a quarterback, which shows again just how meaningful the position is, and the advantage that teams such as the Seahawks have. In the wake of the trade, here was one fact via twitter from Chris Wesseling of NFL.com that resonated: of 20 QBs drafted in the first round since 2008, only one taken outside the top five have won a playoff game. That was Tim Tebow with an 8-8 Denver team in 2011.
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In other words, despite all the advances in information gathering and testing and grooming of young players at the high-school and college levels, finding an elite quarterback remains the same crapshoot it has always been. And to get one, teams more often than not must devote a lot of resources or have suffered some significant losing to get in position to draft one.
Seattle, though, had to do neither to get Wilson, and though they are paying him a lot of money, they were able to do so with the comfort of knowing they had a sure thing.
The Rams’ move also illustrates again how the Seahawks still have the best long-term QB situation in the NFC West. San Francisco appears to have no idea what it will do, with any thought that it could land Goff apparently out the window (ESPN’s John Clayton labeled the 49ers as one of the biggest losers of this trade for that reason). The Rams obviously will be starting over with a rookie who will have about as bright of a spotlight as could be imagined. And though the Cardinals have a good QB in Carson Palmer, he is 36 years old with Arizona having no clear successor.
Despite the big contract he signed last summer, Wilson might look like more of a bargain with each passing season.
2. I’m curious to see where the NFL places the Seahawks’ game at Los Angeles: As was revealed Wednesday night, the 2016 NFL regular-season schedule will be released at 5 p.m. Thursday. I already had wondered what the league would do with the Seahawks’ game at the Rams, which will be Seahawks coach Pete Carroll’s first game back at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum since leaving USC in 2009, thinking that could be one of the opening-weekend Monday night doubleheader games. Now with the Rams possibly debuting the No. 1 pick in the draft at QB, that game could be even more intrigue. Regardless, the sleepy annual trip to St. Louis of the past has been replaced by what will be a marquee game in 2016 for Seattle.
3. Tennessee will get a chance to master “volume drafting,” something the Seahawks have excelled at of late: For Tennessee, which thinks it has a franchise QB in second-year Oregon grad Marcus Mariota, the lure of the trade is amassing a boatload of picks this year and next. For this year, the Titans now have six of the top 76 picks in the draft.
And as much as anything, this trade figures to be referenced for years as a test case of whether it’s better to sacrifice a lot for one player or go with the idea that it’s better to get a lot of picks and play the percentages that the more players you draft, the more key contributors you will have. Here’s one analysis noting that teams that make big moves into the top 10 of the draft are “six times more likely to fire their coach” than they are to win a playoff game.
Amassing a lot of picks, or “volume drafting,” is a strategy that has been the preference of the Seahawks during the John Schneider/Carroll era. Seattle has made 56 picks since 2010, often trading down to acquire more selections, and the past few years they have used the free-agency compensatory-pick formula well to load up on more picks.
The Seahawks have nine picks this year, including four of the top 97. That is the most picks they have had in the top 100 since 2005 and one of only 12 times in franchise history they have had that many picks in the top 100.