LOS ANGELES: The Los Angeles Rams aim to land a franchise quarterback capable of leading them into a bold new era on Thursday (Friday in Manila) when the NFL draft gets under way with all eyes on the California team’s first pick.
The Rams, whose move back to Los Angeles from St Louis was confirmed in January, stunned the league earlier this month after completing a trade with the Tennessee Titans to secure the No.1 pick in the draft.
The deal means the Rams are all but certain to select a rookie quarterback for next season, with the choice expected to fall between the University of California Berkeley’s Jared Goff and Carson Wentz of North Dakota State.
Both players have been interviewed by the Rams ahead of Thursday’s D-day in Chicago, but officials have so far stayed tight-lipped on who they plan to entrust with the task of running their offense for years to come.
“We’re probably going to take an offensive player,” Rams coach Jeff Fisher quipped at a press conference in Los Angeles on Tuesday.
The stakes could not be higher for the Rams, who are desperate to hit the ground running on their return to Los Angeles, which has been without an NFL presence since 1994.
The Rams will play their home games next season in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the iconic venue for the 1984 Olympics, before moving into a gleaming new $1.8 billion 80,000-seat venue in 2019.
It is part of a long-term strategy by team owner Stan Kroenke, who also owns English Premier League side Arsenal as well as NBA and NHL teams in Denver, to establish the Rams as an international brand.
Building a team
The key component of that strategy however will be building a team capable of emerging from the powerful NFC West — which also contains the Arizona Cardinals, Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers — and challenging for the Super Bowl.
All of which circles back to Thursday’s draft, and the Rams’ potentially pivotal choice between Goff and Wentz.
“If you do this pick right, it’s the gift that keeps on giving for a decade,” veteran agent Leigh Steinberg told NFL.com, reflecting on the potential upside of picking the right quarterback.
Yet NFL history is littered with infamous examples of No.1 picks who have spectacularly failed to live up to expectations.
Moreover, when the first two overall picks of the draft have been quarterbacks—as are Goff and Wentz—rarely if ever have both players gone on to establish themselves among the elite.