For Les Snead, the first major decision he makes as the general manager of the St. Louis Rams might be the most important move of his front-office career. The Rams have made no secret of the fact that they’re shopping the No. 2 overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft, but now Snead has to find the right deal. On top of all that, his new defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams, is the face of the bounty scandal that has rocked the league in recent days.
Les Snead joined WCNN in Atlanta to discuss the importance of that second pick. He also addressed whether the team has considered keeping the pick to draft a top quarterback, how far he’d be willing to drop in the draft, the 2004 draft trade between the Giants and Chargers, and of course, BountyGate and the fate of Gregg Williams.
On his career likely being defined by what happens with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft:
“You’re exactly right, and I’ve realized that. I knew it when I was interviewed for the job. And to be honest with you, I embrace the challenge. It’s exciting. I think through a lot of years of experience, through the last four under (Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff), in Atlanta, through all my years in Atlanta, under Arthur (Blank) and Rich (McKay), I think all those years of experience allows you to be comfortable and not scared, confident that you can make the right decisions. And when it’s all said and done and the book’s written, that decision will have been a good one.”
On the likelihood that the team will trade the pick and if there was an internal debate regarding whether to keep the pick and use it on Robert Griffin III:
“Yes, obviously when you take a new job, you have to discuss what you have, what’s gonna be your bread and butter and, does what you have fit your bread and butter. We came to the early conclusion that Sam (Bradford) was our guy, that he’s our franchise quarterback. And to be honest with you, Perry (Laurentino), we had Matt Ryan and we drafted him and he comes in in ’08 — we weren’t looking for franchise quarterbacks in Atlanta. But I can tell you this: as the director of player personnel there it was my job to scout every player coming out in the draft, and we did a lot of work on Sam Bradford, and I thought he was a franchise quarterback then, thought he was a franchise quarterback when he was rookie of the year, and even through some adversity last year I still think he’s a franchise quarterback.”
On if there’s a limit to how far they want to trade down in the first round:
“Wherever we drop we want to pick a player that we’re jacked about, that we’re really excited about and we think is gonna help us come in and win division championships consistently. Now, you did mention OT, you did mention corner. Coming to a team that over the last four years is the worst team in football in terms of regular-season wins, with that said there’s a lot of holes to fill. So what that does allow us to do is fill all the holes and see what they have to offer, and if somebody puts a deal we can’t refuse on the table, because we have so many needs it allows us to maybe drop back farther than you would expect. And I mentioned this yesterday — there is a chance when you do drop back you’ve gotta be prepared to come back up and get the player you want.
On if he’s using the 2004 draft-day trade between the Giants and Chargers as a model for this scenario:
“That is a very nice case study. I was told that Ernie Accorsi said that you should be able to get five No. 1 picks for that slot so I think I’m going to go with his case study instead. So that one sounded better to me, but in reality, yes, that’s a nice case study. Also in reality, like real estate, you have a nice piece of property, maybe with some oil under it, sometimes supply and demand comes into factor. And maybe we get a little more for that pick.”
On if it’s possible that something gets done well before draft night, and maybe even before free agency:
“That is certainly a possibility. We discuss it daily. The teams that are talking with us discuss it daily. And in reality a deal of this magnitude is not gonna be done in 15 minutes. We’re not gonna open the draft and the Colts get on the clock and we start trying to figure out the deal. Usually the deals are going to be talked about for a long stretch of time, and even if you do it on draft day on the clock, that deal is gonna pretty much have been done, sealed long before that pick. And with the draft being in prime time, usually the deal would be consummated probably Thursday morning and you’re just waiting to execute it that night.”
On BountyGate and if Gregg Williams’ job is in any jeopardy:
“Here’s what I’m gonna say on that matter, and I mentioned it yesterday: Right now, it’s a league matter, and it’s an ongoing investigation. And we’re not gonna comment until the investigation is resolved. So it’s an ongoing investigation and when it’s resolved we’ll make a comment.”
On having to hit on the picks they trade down for:
“I’m not looking at it, ‘Hey, there’s a possibility we mess it up.’ I’m looking at it, ‘We’ve got a young team, we’ve got some pillars, we’ve got a lot of needs. We’re in a division that we can turn around and compete in quickly.’ So I think with the bounty of picks that are going to come early in each round, we should take advantage of it and I’m very excited about that opportunity.”