To find quarterback help in the NFL draft, Los Angeles Rams may have to be very creative

Secrecy is a fundamental part of the NFL playbook. Teams rarely divulge exactly what they plan to do, especially when it comes to rolling out their blueprint for building through the draft.

But there's no denying that the Rams are in the market for a quarterback as they prepare for a splashy return to Los Angeles this season.

The Rams have the No. 15 pick in next month's draft. The top two quarterbacks in this class — North Dakota State's Carson Wentz and California's Jared Goff — almost certainly will be off the board at that point.

The Rams could package picks to move up. They have an extra second-round selection, but it's unclear if that's enough to propel them into that rarefied air, especially with the Cleveland Browns (No. 2), Dallas Cowboys (No. 4) and San Francisco 49ers (No. 7) also in the market for a quarterback.

It's widely believed that the Tennessee Titans would like to trade out of the No. 1 spot, and — with the Browns lurking — an interested team might have to move to the top of the draft to claim its prize.

The Rams have three quarterbacks on the roster. They will open off-season workouts with Case Keenum as the presumptive starter, and Nick Foles and Sean Mannion competing for the spot. But they are exploring whether they can upgrade through the April 28-30 draft.

"You kind of have to be ready to act on game day, I call it," Rams General Manager Les Snead said Tuesday at the annual NFL owners meetings.

While acknowledging the difficulty of moving all the way up to the top of the draft, Snead did not dismiss that as an option. However, he said: "Relatively speaking, going from 15 to 1, it's probably a plan … over the history of time that's got a less chance of happening than other things."

Broadcaster and former NFL player Cris Collinsworth created a buzz last week by predicting in a mock draft that Los Angeles would trade up to the top spot and take Wentz. The pick caught the notice of the Rams — some of whom appreciated the entertainment value of the exercise.

"At this stage I think mock drafts are great because people get to really look at a combination of team needs and that makes a mock draft exciting," said Kevin Demoff, Rams chief operating officer. "You follow them, you understand them, but it's probably as valuable right now as what someone's [NCAA basketball tournament] bracket looked like a week ago at this time before Middle Tennessee State and Northern Iowa played."

The Rams have traded up to No. 1. In 1997, before its third season in St. Louis, the club sent four draft picks — including No. 6 overall — to the New York Jets to select offensive tackle Orlando Pace, a future Hall of Famer.

In the last two drafts, the Rams hit the jackpot by staying put. They took defensive tackle Aaron Donald 13th in 2014, and he was named defensive rookie of the year. Last spring, they stayed at No. 10 and selected running back Todd Gurley, the eventual offensive rookie of the year.

In 2013, the Rams traded up and down in the first round. They moved from 16th to eighth to draft receiver Tavon Austin, and, with a second pick, moved from 22nd to 30th to take linebacker Alec Ogletree. Both have become key players.

Said Demoff of Snead and Coach Jeff Fisher: "If there's a target they want that they feel they need to move up for they will. If there's a player we like who we think we can get maybe a couple spots later, we'll try to move back. It's an imperfect science."

The Browns repeatedly have failed, cycling through 24 starting quarterbacks since relaunching as an expansion franchise in 1999.

The Titans don't need a quarterback — they took Marcus Mariota second last year — so the Browns are in prime position for Wentz or Goff.

First-year Browns Coach Hue Jackson also likes free-agent Robert Griffin III.

"We all know that if your quarterback plays well in the NFL, you have a chance to win," Jackson said. "If he doesn't, you have no chance to win."

The Browns are going to great lengths to make sure they don't make another mistake, as they did two years ago when they selected the recently released Johnny Manziel in the first round.

The Rams' recent history selecting quarterbacks in the first round also is checkered.

Six years ago they took Sam Bradford with the No. 1 overall pick. He was the 2010 offensive rookie of the year but suffered major knee injuries in 2013 and 2014. Bradford was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles for Foles before last season.

Fisher benched Foles in favor of Keenum, leaving the Rams searching for a possible solution in the draft — ideally one with star power.

Five weeks remain before they must make a decision whether to trade up.

The Rams, in the midst of their relocation, just might be moving again.

sam.farmer@latmes.com

Twitter: @latimesfarmer

gary.klein@latimes.com

Twitter: @latimesklein

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
A version of this article appeared in print on March 23, 2016, in the Sports section of the Los Angeles Times with the headline "Quarterback help isn't easy to find - Rams will have to get creative if they want to upgrade position through the draft." — Today's paperToday's paper | Subscribe
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