It's the type of move that can change a franchise.
On March 10, the St. Louis Rams agreed to trade the second pick in the NFL draft to the Washington Redskins, a deal that was done at the time with the idea that Robert Griffin III was the consensus No. 2 player in the draft. No matter that the Indianapolis Colts, holder of the top selection, might now consider taking "RGIII" over Andrew Luck with the top pick. The pick still had value to the Browns with two franchise-saving quarterbacks available in this draft; with the Rams set at the position, the move now lets them enhance their team.
St. Louis obtained from Washington the No. 6 pick in the draft along with the Redskins' second-round pick this year. In addition, the Rams now hold the Redskins' first-round picks in 2013 and 2014.
"It reminds me a bit of the Dallas Cowboys when they traded [Herschel] Walker and remade their team," one league executive told Yahoo! Sports.
"The Rams underachieved last year and were better than their record indicated. Now that they can upgrade with some very real talent in this draft, they should be a playoff team again. And quickly."
The allusion to the Walker trade is an interesting one. Made in 1989 between the Cowboys and the Minnesota Vikings, the deal had Walker and a free throw-in from Dallas as the centerpiece, heading to the MetroDome. In return, the Cowboys received five players and eight draft picks. These picks became the core of three Super Bowl-winning teams in the 1990's, including Emmitt Smith, Alvin Harper and Darren Woodson.
The Rams won't get the massive haul that the Cowboys did 23 years ago, but they should upgrade plenty. Considering that they have their quarterback of the future in Sam Bradford, the Rams didn't need to stay that close to the top of the draft with two coveted quarterbacks in Luck and Griffin III available. Trading down affords them the opportunity to get better in other areas.
"While Dallas received several veteran players in the trade, the use of their draft picks was a huge part of their success in building a championship foundation, which led to the organization's Super Bowl victories and also included two NFL Hall of Famers," said Tony Softli, the Rams' former director of player personnel, who is now a host at 101ESPN in St. Louis.
"For the Rams, how they handle the procurement of talent in the 2012 draft with three picks in the first 39 selections and the 2013, 2014 first-round selections is key."
There's needs for sure but with five picks in the top 100 selections, an already young team could be getting younger. There's still a need at wide receiver, the offensive line needs help, and the Rams can use some secondary depth.
But much like the Cowboys parlayed a high-profile trade into solid selections, the Rams have given general manager Les Snead the flexibility to add depth.
"It's in the Rams' hands now, but they can come out of the next three drafts with lots of cornerstone pieces," the league executive said. "They can also gamble on players too, knowing that there is safety in numbers. So if they're excited by someone's potential but know that there will be a learning curve, they can now afford to bring that player in whereas in the past, they might lean towards the sure-thing selection.
"This is the kind of trade that can turn a playoff team into a Super Bowl contender within five years."
Follow Kristian R. Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer
Note: There were several errors in the original publication of this post; they have since been corrected with our apologies to our readers.
- Washington Redskins