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GM ties could help shape Rams' draft

2/12/2014

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- In last week's edition of "vetting potential trade partners," we discussed the reasons the Cleveland Browns would and would not make sense for the St. Louis Rams as a potential match for a draft day trade involving the No. 2 overall pick. Apparently, we did the Browns a week too early because some news came Tuesday that would add another tally to the "makes sense" column.

When Browns owner Jimmy Haslam announced Tuesday that he was firing general manager Mike Lombardi and CEO Joe Banner and hiring Ray Farmer as the new GM, it didn't move the needle much in St. Louis. But it's possible the move could have more impact on the Rams than it would seem.

Farmer landed his first NFL scouting job in 2002 with the Atlanta Falcons. At the time, Les Snead was the team's pro personnel director and had already been with the Falcons for five years. Snead told cleveland.com on Tuesday that when he had a hand in bringing Farmer aboard, it was an easy decision.

"Hiring Ray is one of the easiest and best decisions I've ever made," Snead said.

Snead went on to continue working his way up through the Falcons organization until he became the Rams general manager in 2012. Farmer diverted to stops in Kansas City and last year in Cleveland before getting the big promotion from Haslam on Tuesday.

In that aforementioned article, Snead went on to offer more praise for Farmer's communication skills.

"He is a people person who genuinely wants to build a united team on the field and inside the building," Snead said. "He knows this requires asking inquisitive, but often hard, questions as well as listening to the answers to those questions."

Farmer's job will also require making difficult decisions, decisions such as what to do with Cleveland's two first round draft choices. That's where Snead could come in.

There has been much speculation about what the Browns will do to address their need at quarterback. Many believe if they have a target in mind -- and that target could be moving now that Farmer is in place -- they'll have to move up to get him. Cleveland also boasts the No. 26 pick in the first round and an early second-round choice and clearly has the ammunition to make a move to get the player it wants.

The Rams, armed with the No. 2 pick, sit in a good position as they have made it clear they do not intend to draft a quarterback there. With needs on the offensive line, the secondary and possibly receiver, the Rams could move down, pick up some extra selections and still get a player they covet.

Reasons why a deal between the Rams and Browns aren't hard to find but adding Farmer to the mix could at least stir some additional interest. Obviously, trades aren't limited to general managers who know each other but they do tend to be a little easier when the two guys making the deal are familiar.

For evidence, look no further than the second of two first-round deals the Rams made in the 2013 NFL draft. Snead struck a deal with friend and mentor Thomas Dimitroff, Atlanta's general manager to move down from No. 22 to No. 30, where the Rams eventually took linebacker Alec Ogletree.

Of course, the Rams have also made draft deals with Dallas, Washington, Buffalo, Chicago and Houston since Snead arrived as general manager. Dimitroff and Atlanta also lurk at No. 6 with need for pass rush help, which could make a move for South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney appealing.

Having a close tie to another general manager guarantees nothing but it certainly doesn't hurt the possibility for a deal either.