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Sports Illustrated Senior Writer Peter King was in the Rams War room
Re: Sports Illustrated Senior Writer Peter King was in the Rams War room
Peter King>MONDAY MORNING QB
Inside the Rams' war room and more draft thoughts
ST. LOUIS -- When you spend a round in a team's war room, as I did Thursday night with the Rams, you understand why so many players, coaches, scouts and executives are magnetized to this game and cannot give it up.
Being with the coaches, GM, scouts and execs of the Rams for Round 1, I saw and heard what a rush the draft is for football-freak 30- and 40-somethings. There's a fun sort of tension. There's gambling -- which the Rams did especially well in moving from pick 22 to pick 30. There are big-screen TVs, and the occasional chuckle at a Kiper or Mayock statement, and catered swordfish and strip steaks, and you're with all your friends (mostly), doing what guys love to do: talk football.
I was here to write a story on the Rams for this week's issue of Sports Illustrated (shameless plug -- on iPads Wednesday and newsstands Thursday!). How would the Rams try to close the gap with the supernova Seahawks and *****, and could they close the gap? Well, I lucked out, as you'll read in the story this week, because GM Les Snead, coach Jeff Fisher and COO Kevin Demoff made stuff happen.
You saw the Rams trade twice -- from 16 up to eight, to take wideout/returner Tavon Austin, and from 22 down to 30, to take versatile linebacker Alec Ogletree -- but what you didn't see was the glee in the room when both picks were made. That was good. Twenty-five or so football people in the room, not in cliques or camps, but together, and pretty excited when the moves were made. Case in point: When Ogletree was picked, special teams coach John Fassel and linebackers coach Frank Bush high-fived and considered the impact of the first two picks.
"Can I have Ogletree for punt blocks?'' Fassel asked.
"Yeah, he blocked six punts in college,'' Bush said. "He's great at it."
"Wait,'' Fassel said. "I don't want him to block the punts -- I want to see Tavon return 'em!''
And they both laughed the kind of laugh you hear in a draft room when you've just had a good day.
Will Austin be the electric player he was at West Virginia? Don't know. Will Ogletree be all player and no distraction, which made him tumble down the board in Round 1? Don't know that either. But for one night, the Rams seemed to help their team quite a bit, and it's obvious from the view I got why football's such a drug to so many.
Other mentions of the Rams in his MMQB-
Speaking of trades ... I write quite a bit in the magazine in my Rams story about the trade from 22 to 30 for Alec Ogletree. The Rams coveted Ogletree, and they took a calculated risk they'd lose him by not picking him at 22. In fact, had they lost Ogletree between 22 and 30, it would have cast a pall over the entire draft. But that's why they pay Jeff Fisher and Les Snead the big dough. The trade brought back Atlanta's third-round pick, and with that pick, the Rams picked West Virginia wideout Stedman Bailey, who led college football with 25 touchdown catches last year. Bailey and Tavon Austin could remake the Rams' attack into a latter-day Greatest Show on Turf with their quickness and playmaking ability downfield. And it never would have happened if Snead and Fisher hadn't taken the risk of potentially losing Ogletree. Win some, lose some. But the weekend, as I'll explain in my story this week, was a big win for the Rams -- assuming Ogletree is a solid citizen as well as a playmaking linebacker.
Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me
Speaking of skedaddling:
I enlisted SI college football guru Andy Staples to help me with the math on something that amazes me about the smurfy Austin, the first pick of the St. Louis Rams and the only offensive skill player to be picked in the top 15 of the 2013 draft. Austin told me he missed one practice in his four years at West Virginia. Doing the math with Staples, if you figure Austin went through three sets of spring practices (15 per year, 45 total), four preseasons (25 per year, 100 total), four bowl games (15 per year, 60 total) and about 50 regular-season practices per year (100 total), that adds up to 405 practices.
Austin practiced 404 out of 405 West Virginia practices, then, and played in 52 of 52 WVU games.
That's 456 of 457 football events for which the kid showed up. The only one he didn't: a Sunday practice in 2011 ... when he was being operated on for a broken pinky suffered the previous day. He was back for the practice after that one.
More bonus facts about Austin: In his first 48 college games, he rushed the ball only 51 times, mostly on end-arounds and options. In his 49th game, against Oklahoma, he rushed 21 times for 344 yards. Imagine having a game with runs of 74, 56, 54 and 47 yards ... in one half (the second).
The Big 12 record for all-purpose yards in a game prior to that game was 375. Against Oklahoma, Austin had 572.
Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me II
Speaking of Tavon Austin:
Buffalo GM Buddy Nix and Rams GM Les Snead orchestrated the trade that that led Austin to the Rams Thursday night, St. Louis acquiring the eighth pick for second- and seventh-rounders and a swap of third-rounders.
Snead was born in Eufaula, Ala. (pop.: 13,137) in 1971.
The high school football coach at Eufaula High until 1967 was Buddy Nix.
"Buddy was a big deal in my hometown,'' Snead said.
Snead went to Auburn. A good buddy of his, the backup quarterback on the football team, married Nix's daughter.
On Thursday, Nix, the big man in Snead's town when Snead was but a gleam in his father's eyes, handed Snead the most dangerous weapon in this draft to compete with the power boys, San Francisco and Seattle, in the NFC West. And Snead handed Nix the pick to draft the player, E.J. Manuel, the Bills hope becomes the successor to Jim Kelly.
I wonder if anyone in Eufaula realized that over the weekend.
Ten Things I Think I Think
c. Skeptical about the smurfy (5-7, 173-pound) receiver/returner Ace Sanders in the fourth round? Understandable. But Sanders was the guy the Rams would have targeted in the third or fourth round if they weren't able to move up for Tavon Austin.
I can't wait to read that King article in SI. Gonna be awesome!!!!
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