The Los Angeles Rams and Tennessee Titans this morning executed a nine-pick trade that gives the Rams the first overall selection in the 2016 NFL Draft.
The motive for L.A. is clear. The Rams had one of the worst offenses in the league last year and their current best option at quarterback is Case Keenum. Obviously, L.A. will be using that first pick on a quarterback, either Jared Goff of California or Carson Wentz of North Dakota State.
Teams don't pay a king's ransom for defensive linemen or safeties. Guaranteed, the Rams are going to use this pick on a franchise quarterback.
The Browns sit at No. 2 overall and, like the Rams, they have no viable quarterback options. With Johnny Manziel at the wrong end of a bottle, everyone has assumed all off-season the Browns will be selecting a quarterback in the first round.
The Rams/Titans trade isn't going to change Cleveland's strategy in the first round. If Wentz is the first overall pick, then Goff plays in Cleveland, and vice versa.
For the Chicago Bears, this is substantial. The Bears are in the market for a young quarterback and have already met with nine QB prospects this off-season. Bears brass have made it very clear that finding the club's signal caller of the future is a priority in this year's draft.
Before the trade, most assumed that Memphis QB Paxton Lynch would be available to Chicago at 11th overall. Lynch is a talented passer with all of the physical tools to be a starter in the NFL. He's raw but his ceiling is the highest of any quarterback in this year's draft. The Bears could select Lynch and let him sit for a year or two behind Jay Cutler, allowing him to grow and develop into a legit NFL passer.
Yet if Goff and Wentz are drafted 1st and 2nd overall, then Lynch may not make it out of the Top 10. The Cowboys, Eagles and 49ers are all in the market for a long-term starting quarterback. It's likely one of those teams will select Lynch, which would clear the board of first-round worthy QBs.
In this very likely scenario, there won't be a quarterback on the board worthy of the 11th overall pick, meaning the Bears will have to wait until at least the 2nd round before selecting a passer. That's a somewhat disappointing revelation for Bears fans who felt Lynch could be the long-term answer in Chicago, as the rest of the QBs in this draft are littered with question marks. In reality, the Bears may not be able to find Cutler's successor this off-season.
Yet Lynch being selected in the Top 10 will have a ripple effect that will ultimately benefit the Bears.
Before the trade, seven players were considered Top 10 locks:
QB Carson Wentz
QB Jared Goff
DE Joey Bosa
LB Myles Jack
DB Jalen Ramsey
DE DeForest Buckner
OT Laremy Tunsil
Beyond those seven, most believed these three players would round out the Top 10:
CB Vernon Hargreaves
OT Ronnie Stanley
RB Ezekiel Elliott
Before the Rams took over the top spot, Lynch would have been one of the best options for the Bears at 11. Now that he's likely to land in the Top 10, one of those non-QBs is going to fall to the Bears.
Yesterday it was unrealistic to assume Buckner, Jack, Bosa or Stanley would fall to the Bears. Today, that's a very real possibility.
GM Ryan Pace has professed his desire to execute a Best-Player-Available strategy in the first round. If any of those players drop out of the Top 10, Pace would land an elite athlete no one felt would fall to the Bears just two days ago. Unlike Lynch, that player will have an immediate impact in Chicago his rookie season.
While the possibility of landing a long-term quarterback may have disappeared, the idea of a franchise talent falling into the team's lap should be very exciting for Bears fans.