Entering the 2013 NFL Draft, the St. Louis Rams knew that they had to address their needs at WR, LB, and S. Mission accomplished as the Rams had one of the best drafts in recent memory. Here are the reasons why:
Round 1 (Pick 8) From Bills: WR Tavon Austin, West Virginia
The Rams were going to get Tavon Austin in this year’s draft; there was no doubt about it. From the NFL Combine to his private workouts, Austin blew away GM Les Snead and Head Coach Jeff Fisher with his ability to be a playmaker, exactly what this team needs. But were the Rams going to trade up into the top 10 as Austin was moving up draft boards on Draft Night? Snead and company pulled the trigger and traded their 16th, 46th 78th, and 222nd picks to the Bills for their 8th and 71st picks. It seemed like the Rams were going to give up a lot at first but in my mind it was just right. Austin is going to be an instant impact in St. Louis and already has his biggest fan in QB Sam Bradford, who will be given his most explosive WR since entering the league in 2010. Austin can do everything on the offensive side of the ball. He can line up at the slot receiver spot, the running back position, and is an explosive punt and kick returner. Austin will be making flashy plays for years to come.
When the Rams were up again at 22, there wasn’t a player that they really wanted so they traded their 22nd and 2015 7th round picks with the Falcons in exchange for their 30th, 92nd, and 198th picks. The Rams were able to get a top 15-talent guy with the 30th pick in LB Alec Ogletree. Ogletree fell to the Rams because teams were concerned with his off the field issues. But the Rams aren’t afraid of guys with off the field issues as Fisher drafted CB Janoris Jenkins last year and he turned out to be a great contributor. Ogletree is 6’2” and weighs 242 pounds but the guy is fast. He has a great motor and doesn’t give up on plays and always finds ways to get into the backfield. He is also a great tackler. He will fit great alongside LB’s James Laurinaitis and Jo-Lonn Dunbar.
Third Round picks (71, 92): S T.J. McDonald, USC and WR Stedman Bailey, West Virginia
The Rams didn’t have a second round pick as a result of the Bills trade but did have two picks in the third. After losing S Craig Dahl in the offseason, the Rams needed to address the safety position and got a good safety if he is in the right system in USC S T.J. McDonald. I watched a lot of this guy at USC and there were lots of plays were he was non-existent but there were also lots of plays were he made the big play. The Rams have a good system for McDonald to be productive. He is a big, physical presence at 6’2” and is a big hitter but was flagged numerous times in college for leaning with his head. He is a good tackler as he led the Trojans with 112 tackles last year. Side note, his father Tim McDonald was a 6-time Pro Bowler and won a Super Bowl in 1993 with the San Francisco 49ers. The Rams then drafted WR Stedman Bailey with the 92nd pick. Bailey went to West Virginia also and like Austin, is a playmaker. Here are his numbers last year: 113 catches for 1,627 yards and 25 touchdowns. No that is not a mistake. Bailey led the NCAA with 25 receiving touchdowns! Bailey was a reliable option for QB Geno Smith at WVU and will likely be the same for Bradford. The duo of him and Austin already has Ram fans bringing up the name: “Greatest Show on Turf part 2.” Lets not get carried away but it could happen. The fact that the Rams were able to get Bailey this late and had already drafted Austin will really help the receiving core because Bailey knows what he has to do to get open and to get opposing defenders away from Austin. He is not the fastest guy but will be reliable for Bradford and is good at picking up first downs.
If you add the Rimington Award winner in Alabama OG Barrett Jones, who was a first round pick a couple of months ago but fell to the 4th because of injuries, then the Rams did really good in the draft. I wish the Rams would have addressed the running back position better but the front office must know something that the fans don’t because they traded both of their sixth round picks for a fifth round pick in order to draft Vanderbilt RB Zac Stacy. Overall I would give the Rams an A- this year as they definitely addressed their needs and will look to make a playoff appearance in 2013 for the first time since 2004.
images were used from espn.go.com, footballperspective.com, and stlouisrams.com