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With draft looming, the Rams seem confident about No. 1 pick

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LOS ANGELES (AP) Rams general manager Les Snead and coach Jeff Fisher are about to make the biggest choice of their careers, and they figure they can't go wrong.

When the Rams make the top selection in the NFL draft on Thursday, either Jared Goff or Carson Wentz will become their franchise quarterback for their return season in Los Angeles.

Although the Rams certainly appeared to know their choice Tuesday, Snead claimed the Rams' bold trade to the top of the draft gave them two can't-miss options.

''I do think both of the players are very good, and both are going to have very good careers,'' Snead said.

''But I can tell you that we wanted to get to No. 1 so that we would have a choice, and be able to pick one of the two. But in terms of pressure, just because there's two (candidates), I don't think that's anything added. We wanted to get there to have that choice.''

The trade cost the Rams six picks while returning three. They don't currently have another pick this weekend until Saturday's fourth round.

But Snead and Fisher, who make the Rams' decisions together, have spent their four losing seasons building a franchise that was ready to take this leap, with its core of young talent now experienced enough to support a star rookie quarterback into a playoff race.

With just two days to go, the Rams appeared confident they've got their man.

''We've spent a great deal of time,'' Fisher said. ''Probably three visits with each quarterback, hours and hours and hours. We've done our research and studied and talked to dozens and dozens of people that are close to both candidates. We've done our work. They're both going to play in this league, and they're both going to be very good players.''

Fisher and Snead won't inform the quarterback they've chosen until right before head equipment manager Jim Lake takes the card to the commissioner in Chicago.

''There's only a few things better in life than this phone call,'' Fisher said. ''It's a great experience for them, so we don't want to deny our pick that opportunity to experience that.''

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The Rams began a monumental week in franchise history with a news conference at the downtown hotel serving as their headquarters for both the draft and their reintroduction to the nation's second-largest media market.

The team is hosting a large fan party Thursday in the LA Live entertainment district to celebrate the No. 1 pick, who will fly to Los Angeles on Friday. He'll be at next weekend's rookie minicamp in coastal Oxnard, the Rams' home until training camp in Orange County.

Even with everything riding on the new quarterback, Fisher and Snead don't necessarily expect him to play Sept. 12 when the Rams begin the regular season in Santa Clara, California, against the 49ers.

''As far as when and how soon he plays ... we can't put a timetable on that,'' Fisher said. ''We'll play him when he's ready. We have the philosophy not to ask him to do something he can't do and subject him to failure.''

But Snead acknowledges most NFL draft picks must play ''sooner than later.'' He declined to say whether he has begun trade discussions around veteran quarterbacks Nick Foles, Case Keenum and Sean Mannion, but the conversations likely will heat up after the draft.

Fisher and Snead also realize a quarterback is only one piece of the fix for the NFL's least productive offense last season. Fisher is confident his young offensive line will continue to grow after giving up just 18 sacks last season.

''We feel really good about the group that's going to start the season,'' Fisher said. ''There's tremendous depth. They all have experience.''

Another huge help for Wentz or Goff will be standing right behind him: NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Todd Gurley.

''A quarterback's job becomes much easier when you can turn around and hand it off to somebody every once in a while, and we plan to do that,'' Fisher said.

And Snead laughed at the memory of Fisher's comment to both Goff and Wentz during recent chats: ''Get used to handing the ball to (No.) 30.''


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