Last Thursday, exactly one week before the NFL Draft, Rams general manager Les Snead and his associates went to Auburn for a private workout with Greg Robinson.
Afterward, they knew they would take Robinson with the second overall pick.
“It was probably our fourth visit,” Snead said on The Doug Gottlieb Show. “I think when we all had dinner that night after that workout, I think that was where the exclamation point was put that Greg’s our guy. That’s who’s going to be there, he fits a big-time need, we really like this player – this is where it’s going to go. We didn’t think that any trade that was going to come was going to outweigh Greg – no pun intended there.”
None taken. Robinson – who is 6-5, 332 pounds – could be a pillar of the Rams’ offensive line for the next decade. He also might be the replacement for Orlando Pace that the franchise has been searching for since 2008.
The Rams then took Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald at No. 13.
At no point did Snead consider drafting Johnny Manziel.
“I can tell you this,” Snead said. “From early scenarios, Greg Robinson and Aaron Donald were scenario No. 1. I didn’t know if Aaron Donald was going to get there. He had a nice little rise during this whole scouting process, but you know what? We think he’s a nice complement to a strong unit we already have in our (defensive line). So we felt like he was a complement. By that, he gives us a different flavor than our other guys (on the interior). He’s going to give the penetrating, up-the-field speed aspect of the defensive tackle position to go with some of our ends on third down.
“We want to keep feeding that beast,” Snead continued. “We think that front seven of ours is really (pivotal to what we hope to achieve). If you’re going to compete in (our division), you better be able to counter in the trenches – because that’s where the real battles are and that’s where the game’s going to be won or lost.”
Thus, by not taking Manziel – or Teddy Bridgewater or Derek Carr – the Rams are officially happy with Sam Bradford, despite reports that he would possibly be traded. These reports surfaced, in part, because the Rams made a scouting visit to Texas A&M.
Of course, Jake Matthews and Mike Evans – who were picked sixth and seventh, respectively – were a big part of that.
“I’ll be honest with you on that,” Snead said. “There was never really an intentional smoke screen (sent by) going to Texas A&M. We did our work on all three of those players. So it wasn’t like we just flew out there to have a smoke screen.”
Instead, Snead and Jeff Fisher sat down with Bradford, looked him in the eye and told him he was their guy.
Looking ahead to Friday, the Rams have the 12th pick of the second round, and it seems fair and reasonable to say that they’ll be targeting a wide receiver.
“That’s a fair, reasonable expectation,” Snead said, “but as you know, the more you draft, the thinner this board gets – so you can reach.”