One day after trading six premium draft choices to the Tennessee Titans for the No. 1 overall pick and two late-round selections, Los Angeles Rams general manager Les Snead said his team is "97 percent sure" about who it will take with the top choice.
In reality, the Rams are probably closer to 100 percent certain who they want to draft when April 28 arrives. They seem to have a good idea on which quarterback they prefer between North Dakota State's Carson Wentz and Cal's Jared Goff. But Snead, coach Jeff Fisher and the Rams are wise to leave open that 3 percent in case some unforeseen circumstances pop up in the meantime.
"There will be suspense leading all the way up to the draft," Snead said. "It will be good for the networks."
Here are three reasons why the Rams could be waiting until draft night to make their intentions clear:
1. By declaring who they want, they'd take away the chance to trade back a spot and still get the quarterback they covet.
Immediately after the trade, there were leaks that the Rams favored Goff and other leaks that they preferred Wentz. It was typical draft subterfuge, but there are also reasons behind it. The Rams are keeping people guessing at which quarterback they prefer. By putting it out there that they like both, they could potentially entice another team that loves Wentz or Goff to try to move up and recoup some of their picks while also still landing their quarterback of choice. Is that a long shot? Sure. But it's also worth a try. For example, if the Rams really preferred Wentz, they could leak interest in Goff in hopes that Cleveland at No. 2 might be willing to flip a pick to move up to ensure it got Goff. The same is true of leaking interest in Wentz. It could be a risky game to play, but with so much time between now and the draft, it's worth at least keeping the option open.
2. The NFL likes building suspense, especially in situations like these.
Upon announcing the trade, the Rams didn't hesitate to mention that they'd waited to reveal it so that it wouldn't take away from Kobe Bryant's final game in the NBA (not that anything was really going to do that anyway). What was actually a bit of a surprise was that the NFL didn't ask the Rams and Titans to wait to announce it on a day other than the one they planned to unveil the regular-season schedule.
The NFL likes to be in the headlines as much as possible, that much has been made clear in recent years with prime-time shows for things like the schedule release and the alterations to the draft. Theoretically, the Rams could let the world know who they want to draft at any point, but the league probably would prefer that they don't. In the next two weeks, much will be made of which quarterback the Rams plan to take and the debate will steal plenty of headlines on its own.
"We’ve been doing this a long time and I can’t ever remember coming out two weeks before the draft and saying this is the guy we’re taking," Fisher said. "You guys would have nothing to do for the next two weeks if we told you now."
The draft is one of the NFL's best reality shows. Might as well add as much drama as possible, especially at the top.
3. There's always a chance, however slight, that something unforeseen or unfortunate could happen.
By all accounts, Goff and Wentz have all the intangibles and off-the-field boxes checked. So it's extremely unlikely that some sort of red flag would pop up before the draft as it did with offensive lineman La'el Collins last year. With Collins, it turned out not to be an issue but it was enough to keep him from getting drafted. But with time between now and the draft, any number of things could happen, whether it's an unknown injury issue or something else. Obviously, if something like that occurred, the Rams would be forgiven for having a change of heart if they had announced their pick. But the extra time allows them to turn over any possible stone that might still exist just to be absolutely certain they have the right guy.