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Thread: Rams breathe life into offense with Austin pick ..

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    Rams breathe life into offense with Austin pick ..

    BY JOE STRAUSS

    The price was steep for a team with multiple needs, but there was one offensive playmaker above all others in the 2013 draft: West Virginia’s … Read more

    By leaping to get WR Austin, Rams believe they are now ready to make a legitimate playoff run.

    Go ahead and claim the Rams “reached” Thursday by advancing eight spots in the first round to take a player that ESPN’s Suzy Kolber could’ve posted up during a pre-draft interview at Radio City Music Hall.

    Go ahead and say the Rams assured themselves the first smurf by securing a 5-foot-8Ĺ player who weighs less than 175 pounds within a first round dominated by earthmovers.

    Say what you like. But note that the Rams attacked rather than retreated Thursday by selecting West Virginia wide receiver Tavon Austin with the No. 8 overall pick. It’s also accurate to say that the locals plucked this draft’s most unique offensive player.

    A franchise that last year traded the rights to Heisman Trophy quarterback Robert Griffin III this time traded up to land a multi-purpose talent who could be found wide, in the slot or in the backfield. A draft maligned for its paucity of playmakers and a pandemic of sameness left the Rams with a potentially transformative talent.

    General manager Les Snead and head coach Jeff Fisher arrived at Earth City Thursday morning in possession of an offense renowned for its blandness. After trading the Nos. 16, 46 (second round), 78 (third round) and 222 (seventh round) picks for the Buffalo Bills’ Nos. 8 and 71 (third round), they left Day One with a personality. Leaping eight spots to immediately in front of the New York Jets, the Rams used a first-round selection on a receiver for the first time since taking Torry Holt in 1999.

    “They did give up a lot,” Austin said of the Rams’ ransom for moving up.

    For weeks the organizational spin insisted it would seek the best player available rather than draft for need. There is no question the Rams have need at receiver. They return only three at the position who appeared in a regular-season game in 2012. It’s likely the organization will continue to flesh out the position today and Saturday.

    Austin was the only skill player taken among the draft’s first 15 picks. Trading up to get him received unanimous support from team president Kevin Demoff on down.

    Too predictable and too horizontal for far too long, the Rams have now become more versatile with at least the potential to stretch defenses. Drafting Austin after signing free agent tight end Jared Cook allows offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer versatility unknown during a 7-8-1 season. Austin’s ability to turn a 3-yard dump pass into a 50-yard dash also serves to slow a rush. As one Rams mover said Thursday night, “We were really easy to defend last season. ... Too easy.”

    Austin remained a man of few words when peppered with numerous questions during a teleconference. At one point he promised, “I’m not going to be a distraction.”

    Actually, the Rams very much need Austin to be a distraction.

    He joins an offense that last season ranked No. 25 in the NFL, an offense that has failed to gel in quarterback Sam Bradford’s three seasons, an offense short on big-play electricity.

    The loss of 10,000-yard rusher Steven Jackson and favored Bradford target Danny Amendola to free agency further complicated the issue. Fisher and Snead expect Austin represented an immediate impact.

    “Clearly there’s a lot you can do with him,” said Fisher, acknowledging a primary role as slot receiver. “It doesn’t end there. There are a lot of different things you can do. The 4.28, 4.29 is real. ... He understands football. He likes football.”

    With quarterbacks Kellen Clemens and Austin Davis in tow, the Rams put Austin through a second workout last week in Morgantown, deciding at that point that he represented a rare commodity. They believed his 4.28 40-yard time and 37-inch vertical leap. They saw the player who averaged more than eight receptions while gaining more than 2,400 yards receiving and scoring 27 touchdowns his last two seasons. Austin averaged better than 210 all-purpose yards during the span, once rushing for 344 yards against Oklahoma.

    “This guy is from another planet,” Snead texted to his wife Kara following the Morgantown workout.

    The Rams sent mixed signals in recent weeks, hinting they might skew defensively due to the lengthy learning curve standard for receivers and the lack of difference-making rushers. They continue to wait for incumbents Brian Quick and Chris Givens to develop further. Austin reportedly bombed his pre-draft Wonderlic test, a measure that numerous teams, apparently including the Rams, increasingly ignore. Austin already has shown the capacity to discern north and south.

    The Rams ranked 26th in kick returns and 31st in punt returns last season. They stood 19th in yards per play but finished 25th in points scored. Without Amendola, they do not return a receiver who ranked among the NFC’s top 50 in receptions or in the top 25 in receiving yards. Small surprise the Rams did rank among the league leaders in monotony on offense.

    Austin’s size offers reason for pause. He ranks among the smallest players ever made a Top 10 selection. His immediate response is that he never missed a game in high school or college.

    Rams history is replete with Draft Day wonders quickly pancaked by the pro game. Mardy Gilyard supposedly stood as a fourth-round find in 2010 but never mastered the playbook. He was released and has since become a nomad. Donnie Avery didn’t work out. Quick managed 11 catches last season after being made the draft’s 33rd overall choice. Given high marks for work ethic, Quick continues to adjust to a more sophisticated system.

    Amendola (5-foot-11, 188) offered a lesson in how size matters by starting and finishing only nine of 32 games his last two seasons here.

    Fisher continued his willingness to gamble, ending the day by trading down with Atlanta to pick Georgia linebacker Alec Ogletree and his eventful college transcript. The tendency served Fisher well while collecting small-college talent last year. He has now moved all-in on an undersized, high-motor receiver who alters the conversation about a previously lagging offense. Last year was about adding quantity. Thursday supplied a pulse.
    Last edited by MauiRam; -04-26-2013 at 04:12 AM.


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    Re: Rams breathe life into offense with Austin pick ..

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Strauss
    Say what you like. But note that the Rams attacked rather than retreated Thursday by selecting West Virginia wide receiver Tavon Austin with the No. 8 overall pick.
    I'm trying to warm up to this pick, but throwing out these loaded terms in an attempt to win hearts and minds is only going to work on the kids.

    Are you saying Fishead "retreated" last year? No able-minded Rams fan would look back at last year's draft and see Fishead's actions in negative light simply because they traded back. Or as you say "retreated". Therefore, it's also not logical that the right thing happened last night simply because they traded up.

    I want to buy into this, but Joe, you can't get it done with simplistic machismo. At least not with us adults.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

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    Re: Rams breathe life into offense with Austin pick ..

    Quote Originally Posted by HUbison View Post
    I'm trying to warm up to this pick, but throwing out these loaded terms in an attempt to win hearts and minds is only going to work on the kids.

    Are you saying Fishead "retreated" last year? No able-minded Rams fan would look back at last year's draft and see Fishead's actions in negative light simply because they traded back. Or as you say "retreated". Therefore, it's also not logical that the right thing happened last night simply because they traded up.

    I want to buy into this, but Joe, you can't get it done with simplistic machismo. At least not with us adults.
    The thing is, all the guys the Rams wanted at #16 (Cooper, Warmack, Fluker, Richardson, Vaccaro) the Rams knew that it was very likely all of the would be gone, and they were. Why sit at 16 and take a guy you don't believe in? Move up, and go get the #1 guy on your board. You can keep moving down year after year but eventually you gotta change it up. We wanted Julio 2 years ago, we didn't land him. We wanted Blackmon last year, we didn't get him. We wanted Austin this year, we got him. Lets see how it works out.
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    Re: Rams breathe life into offense with Austin pick ..

    Quote Originally Posted by HUbison View Post
    I'm trying to warm up to this pick, but throwing out these loaded terms in an attempt to win hearts and minds is only going to work on the kids.

    Are you saying Fishead "retreated" last year? No able-minded Rams fan would look back at last year's draft and see Fishead's actions in negative light simply because they traded back. Or as you say "retreated". Therefore, it's also not logical that the right thing happened last night simply because they traded up.

    I want to buy into this, but Joe, you can't get it done with simplistic machismo. At least not with us adults.
    I get the point you're making and agree that the machismo isn't the right way to sell this move.

    But thinking back to last year, the Rams elected not to move up and ensure the opportunity to select Justin Blackmon, and that choice led to Fisher slamming his fist on a table and uttering some expletives as Jacksonville beat them to the punch.

    Do you think missing out on the guy they wanted last year because they weren't willing to go up and get him factored into this decision at all, HUb?

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    Re: Rams breathe life into offense with Austin pick ..

    Gotta' get a projected impact guy for the offense. Enough is enough. It is long past due. With the Rams' multitude of needs a year ago, they were justified in loading up on extra picks and dealing down. They passed on Blackmon and other highly touted skill position guys in the process. This year, they absolutely, positively had to supplement what they currently have with an electrifying guy in whom they have conviction. And if they had to give a little to do so, so be it. I'm 100% behind the move.

    You can't just hope to land "finds" or "value picks" at the skill positions in rounds 2-4 every year.
    Last edited by NJ Ramsfan1; -04-26-2013 at 09:44 AM.
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    Re: Rams breathe life into offense with Austin pick ..

    Quote Originally Posted by sosa39rams View Post
    The thing is, all the guys the Rams wanted at #16 (Cooper, Warmack, Fluker, Richardson, Vaccaro) the Rams knew that it was very likely all of the would be gone, and they were.
    I have to stop you right there. You have no idea who the Rams wanted or didn't want. You can't make a statement that "all the guys the Rams wanted" were gone at 16.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

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    Re: Rams breathe life into offense with Austin pick ..

    Could DA have been a good choice here as well...hopefully this guy proved to be heads and shoulders above DA in skill and longevity. Speed is there for sure. Time will tell.

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    Re: Rams breathe life into offense with Austin pick ..

    Maybe not, Hub, but you can definitely opine that the Rams had a pretty good idea who'd be there, and decided to jump.

    I flat love the pick, and the attitude. Tired of "safe, we can't get criticized' type picks.
    Tired of Donnie Avery over Desean Jackson.

    And...Ogletree doesn't have any kids.Would rather have had Elam, but still like the pick.
    "the Heart Lies and the Head Plays Tricks with us, but the Eyes See True".

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    Re: Rams breathe life into offense with Austin pick ..

    Quote Originally Posted by HUbison View Post
    I have to stop you right there. You have no idea who the Rams wanted or didn't want. You can't make a statement that "all the guys the Rams wanted" were gone at 16.
    Don't recall where I read that, but I did last night. I'll try and find it.


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    Re: Rams breathe life into offense with Austin pick ..

    It was from this Bryan Burwell article:

    Apparently, Snead’s coaches and personnel people did darned good work, because by the time the doors closed to the second-floor war room just before 7 p.m,, Snead was fairly convinced that all the players they hoped would be available at No. 16 – Austin, Texas safety Kenny Vacarro, Alabama offensive tackle D.J. Fluker, Mizzou defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, North Carolina guard Jonathan Cooper and Alabama guard Chance Warmack – would be gone by the time the Rams were on the clock.

    So the decision was made to make a move to trade up in the first round.
    Rams bold trade move signals the future is now

    The obvious follow-up is how Burwell got those names, though in fairness, most of those guys have been rumored to be desired options for the Rams at pick 16 for most of the draft process.
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    Re: Rams breathe life into offense with Austin pick ..

    There it is, thanks Nick! Well yeah, I was going according to that. The Rams were rumored to be happy to take Ogletree at #22 as well, so we got our guys, but at the end of the day it did cost us a 2nd. Good moves by the FO to realize they could recoup a few picks and still get their player from #22-#30.


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    Re: Rams breathe life into offense with Austin pick ..

    Well, we all have our favorites, but as Rams fans there is only good reasons to trust the FO and Fisher....if he feels he can use Austin effectively, than who am I to argue.

    I still think we need a WR for depth. It will be interesting to see our next 2 picks....Many are thinking Safety and the other pick could be very important.....

    Though I would have rather-ed Hopkins and add a RB/WR later -- I am on board with Austin and hopefully we can get someone to fall to us in Round 3.....

    TRUST THE STACHE !!!

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    Re: Rams breathe life into offense with Austin pick ..

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick View Post
    I get the point you're making and agree that the machismo isn't the right way to sell this move.

    But thinking back to last year, the Rams elected not to move up and ensure the opportunity to select Justin Blackmon, and that choice led to Fisher slamming his fist on a table and uttering some expletives as Jacksonville beat them to the punch.

    Do you think missing out on the guy they wanted last year because they weren't willing to go up and get him factored into this decision at all, HUb?
    I certainly hope it didn't factor in. I count last year as a big success for the Rams. Hopefully, Fisher and Snead don't look back with regret, pining for Blackmon instead of Brockers/Pead/Watkins.

    Ultimately, the only point I'm making is the first one you mentioned: neither trading up nor down in the draft has any inherent merit. But rather what you do with the trade.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

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    Re: Rams breathe life into offense with Austin pick ..

    Quote Originally Posted by sosa39rams View Post
    Don't recall where I read that, but I did last night. I'll try and find it.
    Go ahead, but unless Fisher or Snead wrote it, it doesn't get the discussion any further.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

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    Re: Rams breathe life into offense with Austin pick ..

    Quote Originally Posted by HUbison View Post
    I certainly hope it didn't factor in. I count last year as a big success for the Rams. Hopefully, Fisher and Snead don't look back with regret, pining for Blackmon instead of Brockers/Pead/Watkins.
    I don't think they look back with regret in the sense that they aren't happy with what they got. Clearly they are. But I think it's possible they learned from that situation, and figured out that if you like a guy and there's a chance he's not going to be there when you pick, it's worth moving up and taking him if you have the ammunition. Especially if, in the Rams' situation here, the available options at 16 weren't particularly exciting.

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