The Los Angeles Rams, perhaps desperate to make a splash in their first season in a new city, pulled off a massive trade Thursday morning: they acquired the top pick in the 2016 NFL Draft from the Tennessee Titans along with a fourth- and sixth-rounder in exchange for (deep breath) the 15th, 43rd, 45th and 76th picks this year and a first- and third-rounder next year.
That thirst is very likely for Carson Wentz, a quarterback from North Dakota State, or for Cal’s Jared Goff. The Rams’ current quarterback is … honestly, could you name him without looking? It’s some guy who will be getting out of the way for Wentz or Goff very quickly.
Here’s the thing: In football, and sports in general, trades like this rarely work out better for the team getting the top pick than for the team getting a bushel of picks. The Rams defied the odds and made this work in 1997 to land Orlando Pace in a trade with the Jets, so maybe the key there was the fact it’s impossible to lose a trade with the Jets.
The Giants and Chargers made a swap in 2004, with the Chargers drafting Eli Manning at No. 1 and dealing him to the Giants for Philip Rivers (the fourth pick) and what became Shawne Merriman and Nate Kaeding. Manning won two Super Bowls, but Rivers has been among the better quarterbacks in the NFL during his career while Kaeding and Merriman were good, too. So maybe a wash?
A wash is usually the best possible outcome for the team moving up.
Otherwise, it’s almost always bad. Here are some examples: