The NFL has always valued draft picks. They are the lifeblood of your team, the building blocks to winning a Super Bowl.
Now teams may be about to re-think that after the Los Angeles Rams won the Super Bowl Sunday night. The Rams have built their star-studded team by trading for the quarterback who made the winning throw in Matthew Stafford and they also landed star pass rusher Von Miller, who had two sacks Sunday night, in big-time trades this season.
That's on the heels of trading away two first-round picks for star corner Jalen Ramsey two years ago.
Stars win games in this league, and the Rams are exhibit A. But is it just easy to trade away picks to go for it? No, It takes shrewd drafting in the later rounds to do that, which Rams general manager Les Snead has done.
The risk was always there making those moves, but by beating the Bengals, 23-20, in the Super Bowl Sunday night, it was all worth it.
Now comes the tough part of trying to continue to do it. There is talk that coach Sean McVay might walk away, something he didn't back up late Sunday night after the game. Star defensive tackle Aaron Donald is said to also be considering walking away. Plus, they have other players like left tackle Andrew Whitworth who might hang it up. If Donald comes back, they can win it all again.
Stars make it that way.
The challenge will be the continue to supplement the roster with lower draft picks who can contribute. That's the challenge, but the Rams might be changing the blueprint on team building.
They finish atop my Power Rankings after beating the Bengals, who are in the second spot. Cincinnati had a nice playoff run, a precursor of things to come with Joe Burrow. But they better improve on the offensive line or it might not matter who is under center.
Burrow was sacked 19 times in the postseason, including seven times by the Rams. If not for his ability to move, that number could have been a lot higher.
The Bengals will try and fend off the curse of the Super Bowl loser, but they have a group of talented players who will put them in as the favorite in the AFC North next season. If the line improves, look out.
For now, they are left to wonder what might have been if they could have kept Donald and his line mates off of Burrow.
The Rams end the season as the best in the NFL, leaving teams to wonder if those draft picks they once viewed like Fort Knox gold might be more like crashing crypto currency.
|They validated all the moves by winning the Super Bowl. Now they have to deal with the usual things that come with winning a title.||7||12-5-0|
|It's so obvious that their weakness on the offensive line has to be addressed. Joe Burrow won't last playing the way he did this season.||4||10-7-0|
|They are built to contend consistently for the next decade with Josh Allen playing quarterback. Losing offensive coordinator Brian Daboll could hurt.||1||11-6-0|
|The stink of the second-half loss to the Bengals in the AFC Championship Game will be hard to overcome. At some point, they have to run the ball better on offense.||1||12-5-0|
|The big question is whether Aaron Rodgers comes back. It sounds like he might, but they have to do something with their cap situation.||4||13-4-0|
|There is a lot of talk that they need to move on from Ryan Tannehill. If they did, where do they go? He's fine in their offense.||3||12-5-0|
|It looks like Trey Lance will be the quarterback next year, although that's not definitive yet. Jimmy Garoppolo could be traded.||4||10-7-0|
|Mike McCarthy is back, as are his coordinators. But after last season, the heat is on McCarthy and this team.||2||12-5-0|
|Tom Brady has retired, which changes the dynamic of this team. Do they make a run at a veteran in the trade market? It sounds like they might.||7||13-4-0|
|They have to be excited about what they saw from Mac Jones as a rookie. But he and the offense will be hurt by the loss of Josh McDaniels.||3||10-7-0|
|The Kyler Murray situation bears watching as he might not be a happy Cardinals player. It could just be about a new contract, but this is a big year for him and coach Kliff Kingsbury.||2||11-6-0|
|They have plenty of good, young players and a lot of draft picks. They can continue their upward climb with Jalen Hurts at quarterback.||1||9-8-0|
|In Justin Herbert, they have a great piece to build around. The run defense has to be a priority in terms of team building this offseason.||2||9-8-0|
|They have a new defensive coordinator in Gus Bradley, who will help that side of the ball. But this team's fate will be decided by the quarterback position, whether that's Carson Wentz or not.||2||9-8-0|
|Josh McDaniels takes over as the coach, his second stint running an AFC team after coaching the Broncos earlier in his career. Maturity will make him a better coach the second time around.||3||10-7-0|
|Injuries and Covid crippled this team last season, and they still pushed for a playoff spot. The improvement of the outside passing game has to be a priority this offseason.||2||8-9-0|
|With Ben Roethlisberger retired, they need to find a quarterback. It's highly unlikely the starter is on the roster right now.||3||9-7-1|
|The Sean Payton era in New Orleans is over. Dennis Allen is now running things, but he faces a major question: Who plays quarterback?||1||9-8-0|
|They have a new coach in Nathaniel Hackett. Now they have to figure out who plays quarterback and whether it can be Aaron Rodgers.||--||7-10-0|
|The Baker Mayfield contract talks will dominate the offseason talk. Do they give him a long-term deal or not?||--||8-9-0|
|Kevin O'Connell takes over a team that has some talented pieces on the roster. The Kirk Cousins situation bears watching, but word is O'Connell likes him.||--||8-9-0|
|New coach Mike McDaniel is known as a bright offensive mind. He has a big challenge in getting Tua Tagovailoa to play at a high level.||--||9-8-0|
|They might have one more season with Matt Ryan at quarterback. So it might be time to draft that replacement.||1||7-10-0|
|They've made changes to their coaching staff, which means Pete Carroll could be getting desperate. Whether Russell Wilson returns is the big issue facing this team.||1||7-10-0|
|They have to find a quarterback this offseason, and they will. But does it come from the draft or is it a veteran acquired in a trade?||--||7-10-0|
|Owner David Tepper is said to want a quarterback in the worst way. That could mean a big-time trade for a marquee player like Deshaun Watson.||--||5-12-0|
|They have an entirely new group leading this team in general manager Ryan Poles and coach Matt Eberflus. They have to build around Justin Fields to make it easier on the second-year quarterback.||--||6-11-0|
|They played hard last season to stay in games, but the talent level needs to improve. There are questions as to whether Jared Goff is good enough to take them where they need to go.||1||3-13-1|
|New coach Brian Daboll is a talented offensive mind, but he has his hands full trying to get Daniel Jones playing at a higher level. He did it with Josh Allen, so it's possible.||1||4-13-0|
|Their entire offseason has to be about getting Zach Wilson better and improving the supporting cast around him.||1||4-13-0|
|They hired the right coach for Trevor Lawrence in landing Doug Pederson. There are already rave reviews on the new feel inside the building compared to the last coach.||1||3-14-0|
|Their coaching search ended up on defensive coordinator Lovie Smith as their head coach, his third chance running a team in his career. Why not just keep David Culley?||4||4-13-0|