How Les Snead became one of the league's best GM's in 2023

By Andy Davies

Los Angeles Rams General Manager Les Snead said the Rams would be the “boring Rams” in March 2023. They have been far from that this season as he has established himself as one of the best GM’s in the NFL. 

The Rams went into the 2023 season with not much expectation. After going all in on a Super Bowl by virtue of trading away picks galore, it seemed they were now doomed for years and years of mediocrity.

Plenty of their fans were expecting no more than four wins, with a high draft pick predicted by many. However, they will be playing postseason football once again this season and did so with one game remaining.

They will go into the postseason as the sixth seed, which sees them play against the Detroit Lions. This means a Matthew Stafford vs Jared Goff matchup.

A win-win trade for everyone involved

INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 24: Jared Goff #16 of the Detroit Lions reacts after being pressured by Obo Okoronkwo #45 of the Los Angeles Rams and Kenny Young #41 during the first half in the game at SoFi Stadium on October 24, 2021 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

This was the big offseason story in 2021, as Snead and the Rams traded for Lions quarterback Stafford, giving up two first-round picks and a third rounder as well as Goff. Stafford went on to win a Super Bowl in his first season with the Rams, whilst Goff and the Lions went 3-13 in his first year in Detroit.

However, the Rams went 5-12 in 2022 whilst the Lions captured the hearts of every NFL fanbase and were just one victory away from reaching the playoffs. 

Aaron Donald was another year older, Cooper Kupp had an injury hit 2022, as did Stafford. They had one draft pick in the first 76 overall selections in 2023 and players such as Jalen Ramsey, Bobby Wagner, Leonard Floyd moved on elsewhere. It seemed like the Rams were in rebuild and that this season was going to be a learning curve.

Finding some gems in the draft

INGLEWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 21: Puka Nacua #17 of the Los Angeles Rams celebrates with Kyren Williams #23 after an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints at SoFi Stadium on December 21, 2023 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)

Despite having no first-round picks in the 2023 NFL Draft, the Rams found some brilliant players in the later rounds, a credit to Snead. Not only did they take guard Steve Avila in the second round (36th overall), who has been one of the best offensive lineman in this year’s class, but they took three Rookie of the Year candidates in the later rounds.

Defensive end Byron Young was taken in the third round, 77th overall. He has so far pitched in with the joint 37th most sacks in 2023 (8), 61 total tackles, and two forced fumbles. Defensive tackle Kobie Turner has nine for the year, tied for 28th in the entire league and first amongst all rookies. Not bad for a 77th overall pick.

And then there is Puka Nacua,  drafted 177th overall in the 2023 NFL Draft. With 1,486 receiving yards,  he ranked fourth in the entire league, he has 548 more than the next best rookie, 32nd placed Rashee Rice (938).

Nacua broke several rookie records, including most catches in a single game and being the first to have 10 or more catches and 100+ receiving yards in their opening two games, as well as bringing the single season record for receptions (105) and yards.

Going further back than 2023

INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 13: Cooper Kupp #10 of the Los Angeles Rams celebrates with general manager Les Snead after Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium on February 13, 2022 in Inglewood, California. The Los Angeles Rams defeated the Cincinnati Bengals 23-20. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Snead’s trend of brilliant late round pickups go a lot further back than just 2023. They took running back Kyren Williams in the 5th round of the 2022 NFL Draft  and this season he has ran for 1,144 yards, the third most in the league and 12 rushing touchdowns, the joint seventh most.

Go further back and he took players such as Sebastian Joseph-Day in the 2018 sixth round, Tyler Higbee in the fourth round in 2016 and Greg Zuerlein in the 2012 sixth round, all solid players for the franchise. However, Snead ultimately won the franchise a Super Bowl with two other picks during his decade and more with the team.

2014 saw the Rams take Aaron Donald in 13th overall in the 2014 NFL Draft. Whilst he may have been a first round pick, considering the career he has gone on to have, becoming arguably the second greatest defensive lineman of all time, to get him at that stage of the opening round is a credit to Snead.

The Rams and Snead also took wide receiver Cooper Kupp in the third round back in 2017. He went on to win the triple crown in the 2021 season, leading the league in receptions, yards, and touchdowns, also breaking the record for most yards combined between regular season and playoffs as the Rams won Super Bowl 56. Kupp was also named Super Bowl MVP as he came up with the game winning catch.

This goes to show what a great GM Snead has been for the Rams, as the team appears to have skipped their rebuild.




A SPORTS JOURNALISM GRADUATE AND ACCREDITED NFL JOURNALIST, Andy has been writing NFL articles since January 2020. Originally from Wales, Andy also writes for THE FRANCHISE TAG PODCAST and HAS PREVIOUSLY WORKED FOR GIVEMESPORT, as well as HOSTING THE ACROSS THE POD, FINS NATION UK AND EURO TRIPZ PODCASTS. find him on twitter @andydaviessport.