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Rams had no choice but to trade up for a quarterback

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The Los Angeles Rams will become the first NFL team in 25 years to hold the No. 1 draft pick after winning at least seven games in the previous season.

Running in place on an annual hamster wheel of mediocrity, the Rams had no choice but to swing for the fences in hopes of finding a quarterback solution.

The league has changed since the turn of the century, when journeymen quarterbacks such as Kurt Warner, Rich Gannon, Jeff Garcia and Doug Flutie came out of NFL Europe, Canada or the fringes of NFL rosters to pace the leaderboards.

A decade and a half later, NFL Europe is a ghost, the Canadian league is barren and spread offenses allow college quarterbacks to succeed without blue-chip talent.

While the NFL has undergone a pronounced expansion of the passing game over the past half-decade, the quarterback's role has evolved, becoming even more demanding.

The confluence of those manifold factors has made it increasingly difficult to find a franchise quarterback outside the draft's top few picks.

Since Super Bowl XLVII MVP Joe Flacco was selected at No. 18 overall in 2008, 20 quarterbacks have been drafted in the first round. Gimmick quarterback Tim Tebow is the only one drafted outside the top five picks to win a playoff game.

Of that group of 20, the quarterbacks currently viewed as franchise-caliber were all off the board by the third spot in the draft: Matthew Stafford, Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, Blake Bortles, Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota.

If we go beyond the first round, Russell Wilson is the outlier -- due in large part to size bias.

For every Teddy Bridgewater or Derek Carr flirting with franchise status, there are dozens of Jake Lockers, Christian Ponders, Blaine Gabberts and Brandon Weedens who washed out within 30 or 40 starts.

Change happens quickly in the NFL. Much like the other 31 organizations, the Rams understand the quarterback landscape has shifted.

Les Snead and Jeff Fisher didn't mortgage their future with a high-risk blockbuster. The far riskier move would have been to stay the course with a cast of misfits under center, failing to compete -- and holding an otherwise talented roster hostage.

The goal of every NFL team is to hoist the Lombardi Trophy, not flirt with the .500 threshold for an entire generation.

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