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I can excuse Rams gross overpay for Braden Fiske for this reason…

May 15, 2024 08:20AM
I can excuse Rams’ gross overpay in Braden Fiske trade for this reason
You won’t find an elite interior defensive lineman in the bargain heap, and Rams understand that

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JB Scott



There’s no denying that the Los Angeles Rams gave up a lot in a trade with the Carolina Panthers to move up in the second round of last month’s NFL Draft in order to select Florida State’s Braden Fiske at 39 overall. The Rams sent Carolina their 2025 second round draft choice in a total package that amounts to the 35th overall pick according to public draft value charts.

Some may say that the Panthers fleeced general manager Les Snead in this deal. Others would suggest there was a run on interior defensive linemen and if LA didn’t make a move up they could have been left on the outside looking in on a game of musical chairs—that this was possibly a move born out of desperation. There are also those that claim it’s worth going to get a guy that you feel immediately slots in as a starter and has existing chemistry with his former teammate and now-Ram Jared Verse.

One reason for why I would excuse the Rams’ gross overpay in the trade up for Fiske is the same reason how Kobie Turner is such a bargain for Los Angeles. Elite interior defensive tackles don’t grow on trees, and in recent history it takes a premium draft pick or big ticket free agent deal to acquire such a player.

Of the top 10 interior pass rushers from the 2023 season (you can find the full list in the link to the post on Turner), six were former first round draft picks. Three of those were selected in the top 10 of their respective classes. The other three were off the board in the first round by pick 17. Of the four remaining non-first round players, three were chosen by their original teams in the second and only Javon Hargrave started his career as a former third rounder. Hargrave joined the San Francisco 49ers last offseason via a four-year free agent contract worth up to $84M, which further proves this caliber of player doesn’t come cheap.

You’ll only find a top interior defensive lineman at premium prices. There are virtually none to be found in the bargain bin in recent NFL history, and that’s why I can excuse the Rams, albeit somewhat, for paying such a steep price in their move up to draft Fiske.

Perhaps Fiske was the top rated defensive end on the board for Los Angeles, and the drop off to the next prospect was steep. Maybe if Fiske was selected by another team before the Rams were on the clock they would have elected to draft another position and then revisit defensive tackle later. Based on the information above, we know that a second round player has a much higher likelihood of becoming an impact player versus someone taken in the third round.

This also proves why Turner is the exception to the rule. He was an absolute steal for Los Angeles in the late third round last year and should be a bargain for the next three years, assuming he continues to produce at the level we saw from him in his rookie campaign.

My excusal of LA’s trade up for Fiske has nearly nothing to do with the player himself. We can dive into those details another day and revisit once we see how he fares on the field this upcoming season. For today, this is an argument of positional value and how you’ll likely only find a top interior player early in the draft or on a high-cost free agent contract.

Were the Rams fleeced by the Panthers in their trade up for Braden Fiske? Yes, possibly. Was it worth it if Fiske becomes a top interior pass rusher given what it costs to obtain such a player? Absolutely. Time will tell whether the return pays off for LA’s steep investment in Fiske.
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