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  1. #1
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    Rams Wheel and Deal Again in First Round

    Rams Wheel and Deal Again in First Round
    Friday, April 26, 2013
    By: Howard Balzer

    For the second consecutive year, the Rams ended up being wheelers and dealers in the first round of the draft.

    In 2012, the Rams first moved from the second overall pick to sixth in a trade with the Washington Redskins that netted them a second-round pick, plus first-round choices this year and in 2014.

    They entered Thursday with picks at 16 and 22 in the first round and didn’t use either one. The fact they had the No. 22 choice from Washington emboldened them to trade up to eighth in the first round with Buffalo to select wide receiver Tavon Austin.

    Doing that cost the Rams their second-round pick (46th overall) and seventh-round selection (222nd overall). They also swapped third-round picks with the Bills, moving from 78th overall to 71st.

    Without a second-round pick, the Rams were hopeful of engineering a deal at 22 to get back some choices. That occurred when the Rams traded down to 30th overall with the Falcons and were able to get third- and sixth-round selections from Atlanta (92nd and 198th overall). The Rams also sent to the Falcons a seventh-round pick in 2015. At 30, the Rams added linebacker Alec Ogletree.

    Said coach Jeff Fisher, “I would have to say that we’re very excited, to say the least. It was a scenario that we had been discussing for several days. In this particular draft, (it’s a) hard thing to accomplish, I think, the way it fell and what we were able to do. So, we’re very, very excited. We got two very explosive, talented young players that are going to help us right away.”

    With word building that the Jets at ninth or 13th overall could be interested in Austin, the Rams put in motion the plan to get ahead of New York.

    General manager Les Snead said, “I think Buffalo did give us a clue early on that they might be willing to come back in the draft to acquire picks. But really for this particular deal, probably sometime Tuesday was the day that, OK you had a good feeling they were going to be in and you could probably get something done.”

    Fisher said, “We had a feeling that interest was increasing over the last couple of weeks. We did go down (to West Virginia) to work him out. We were just really excited about what we saw down in person. He came in for a (top-) 30 visit and we just felt like he adds something that we just don’t have, that’s just hard to find in this league. Of course we felt a few days ago that we were probably going to have to go up and get him. I credit Les and (executive vice-president of football operations) Kevin (Demoff) and the guys for creating those opportunities and creating trading partners because we knew we were going to need them.”

    In terms of what Ausrtin can do for the Rams’ offense, Fisher said, “You look at his college career and what he’s accomplished. The fact that he has not missed a game and the explosive plays just week after week after week. It felt like we needed a player that created mismatches and so he helps to create that for our entire offense.

    “Clearly there’s a lot you can do with him. He’ll start off as that slot receiver, but it doesn’t end there. There’s a lot of different things you can do with him. He can stretch the field. The 4.28 (40-yard dash) is real. That itself creates some problems. He’s got excellent hands. He’s quick out of the break. He understands and likes football. He’s going to be really fun to watch.”

    Including in the return game. Said Fisher, “He’s a dual returner. Most of his production was in the area of kickoffs. We assume and have seen him do punts, but again the more often you get the ball in his hands the better off he’s going to be.”

    Austin is 5-8½ and 174 pounds and being selected in the top half of the first round is unprecedented for a player his size. Since 1988, there have been 44 receivers selected in the top 15 of the draft and only 10 are under 6-0 and none under 5-10.

    Asked about supposedly being too small for the NFL, Austin said, noting that he’s never missed a game in high school or college, “That’s definitely not going to (ever go away). I just have to keep my heart up, keep my mind right and keep grinding every day in practice. Take care of my body, just keep fighting the critics off like I’ve been doing since I was young. I can’t do anything about it. I would like to change if I could get two inches, but I can’t. I’m just going to keep on pushing.”

    As for the Falcons, the team Snead worked for prior to becoming the Rams’ general manager last year, he said, “This one’s probably been in the works a little while. Let’s call it over the last couple weeks. They probably flirted with going even farther up along the way, so I think they were trying to get up for a multiple set of picks. They always let us know they would be willing to come up if we were willing to come back.”

    Ogletree lasted as late as he did because of several off-field issues during his college career in addition to being arrested for a DUI a few weeks before the Combine in February.

    Said Fisher, “You know people are going to make mistakes and I think that this was a maturity issue. He understands. He learned very well, very quickly here tonight what kind of effect those choices have, but we don’t have a concern. We felt, because of some of the issues, that he had a chance to fall. Didn’t think he’d go that far, but we were in the right place at the right time.”

    Asked what impresses him about Ogletree, Fisher said, “First off, he’s a smart football player. He’s instinctive, he understands concepts. You can see him making coverage adjustments and anticipating plays. That in itself helps as opposed to someone that is just reacting to something. He’ll put himself in position to make plays. He can chase down. As I said, he has excellent speed, pursuit speed to where he can close very quickly. That’s what we need in our division.”

    Added Snead: “A good story. (Linebackers coach) Frank Bush was drawing up a lot of things we’re going to see in our division and said, ‘Hey what do you do right here?’ Basically Ogletree drew a line and said, ‘I go right there and make the tackle right at the line of scrimmage.’ He didn’t get into this or that, he just said, ‘I’m going to meet that guy right there.’ I think Frank was sold at that moment.”

    Said Ogletree, regarding his off-field incidents, “I was young and dumb and made mistakes in my life. I’m just ready to move forward and start this new chapter in my life.”


  2. #2
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    Re: Rams Wheel and Deal Again in First Round

    Added Snead: “A good story. (Linebackers coach) Frank Bush was drawing up a lot of things we’re going to see in our division and said, ‘Hey what do you do right here?’ Basically Ogletree drew a line and said, ‘I go right there and make the tackle right at the line of scrimmage.’ He didn’t get into this or that, he just said, ‘I’m going to meet that guy right there.’ I think Frank was sold at that moment.”
    That is awesome... I hope it was a read option play!

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    Re: Rams Wheel and Deal Again in First Round

    Said coach Jeff Fisher, “I would have to say that we’re very excited, to say the least. It was a scenario that we had been discussing for several days. In this particular draft, (it’s a) hard thing to accomplish, I think, the way it fell and what we were able to do. So, we’re very, very excited. We got two very explosive, talented young players that are going to help us right away.”
    ____________________________________________________________________________________

    The paragraph above has me very excited for the upcoming season!

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