Rams Contacted Jets, Vikings About Round 1 Trade-Up

Known for trading first-round picks for veteran talent since returning to Los Angeles, the Rams finally used their allotted selection on a college performer this year by drafting Florida State’s Jared Verse at No. 19. But this came after reports of the team trying to climb into the top 10.

A pre-draft report indicated the Rams were interested in moving into the top 10, and Georgia’s Brock Bowers was believed to be the team’s target. The Rams have Tyler Higbee coming off a late-season ACL tear, with Hunter Long having undergone MCL surgery shortly before that. The team signed Colby Parkinson in free agency, but Bowers certainly would have represented a splashier piece in Sean McVay‘s offense.

The Rams targeted the Jets with a trade-up effort. Not seeking one of the quarterbacks still on the board, the Jets eventually used their position to squeeze an extra fourth-round pick from the QB-needy Vikings. That J.J. McCarthy-centered transaction came after GM Joe Douglas took a call from Rams counterpart Les Snead. A recent look into the Rams’ draft process (h/t The33rdTeam.com’s Ari Meirov) points to Snead offering Nos. 19 and 52 to the Jets for No. 10.

Snead revealed Douglas was not interested in moving down from 10 to 19. That drop likely would have taken the Jets out of the running for the player they eventually grabbed at 11 — Penn State tackle Olu Fashanu. Following the Jets-Vikings trade, the Rams came back with an offer that included Nos. 19, 52 and third- and sixth-round picks for No. 11, Meirov adds. While would have brought an interesting haul for the Jets, the team’s decision to pass shows its level of interest in Fashanu, who became this year’s third tackle chosen.

The Rams’ call was also interesting due to the pre-draft Jets-Bowers connections that developed. The Jets hosted the Georgia tight end on a “30” visit following his clearance from ankle surgery, and pre-draft reports suggested Gang Green stood as the floor for the three-year SEC standout. The Jets also were believed to be interested in adding another wide receiver to the mix, but after the Bears took Washington’s Rome Odunze at No. 9, the team — which had also been linked to trading down — made a deal with the Vikings and still landed Fashanu at 11.

Fashanu joins March pickups Tyron Smith and Morgan Moses in a Jets tackle group that promises to be deeper than last season’s contingent, while Verse will join ex-Seminoles teammate Braden Fiske — whom the Rams acquired after completing a second-round trade-up effort (via the Panthers) — in a group effort to replace the retired Aaron Donald.

McVay also called ex-assistant Kevin O’Connell about a move to No. 11, but the eighth-year Los Angeles HC was fairly sure the Vikings — after a run of QB work and extensive rumors leading up to the draft — would stay and pick McCarthy were he still on the board at 11.

It certainly would have been interesting to see the Rams equip Matthew Stafford with a dynamic tight end. The Rams have obviously enjoyed sustained success under McVay, but they have not employed a Pro Bowl tight end during the Super Bowl-winning HC’s tenure. Though, Higbee has put together multiple productive seasons. Going down in the Rams’ wild-card loss, Higbee will not be ready for training camp. It would not surprise to see the ninth-year veteran land on the reserve/PUP list to start the season.

The Falcons’ Michael Penix Jr. pick at No. 8 halted any Broncos trade-down interest as well. Sean Payton‘s interest in adding Bo Nix effectively cut off the Rams’ options re: Bowers. The Raiders will attempt to make good use out of a Bowers-Michael Mayer tandem, having made a best-player-available choice — after six QBs went off the board before their No. 13 overall slot — to bring in this draft’s top TE.

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