The first round of the 2013 NFL Draft was as unpredictable as the weather in the Midwest. If you like the unexpected, look no further than Radio City Music Hall, where the events of Day One were as erratic as ever.
Day One featured the St. Louis Rams and Minnesota Vikings separating themselves from the rest of the pack.
Rams Trade Up, Land West Virginia’s Austin
Entering the draft boasting two first-round picks (No. 16 and No. 22), the Rams traded their No. 16 pick to the Buffalo Bills in exchange for their second-round pick (No. 46), and their seventh-round pick (No. 222). The Rams also swapped third-round picks with the Bills, moving up seven spots to No. 71. The trade allowed the Rams to leapfrog into the No. 8 spot in the first round (ahead of the New York Jets), where they snagged West Virginia speedster Tavon Austin.
Rams head coach Jeff Fisher and GM Les Snead were under the impression Austin’s draft stock was rising as the clock continued to tick, essentially meaning the Rams would have to go up and get him.
“We had a feeling interest was increasing,” Fisher said, courtesy of Yahoo!Sports. “We felt a few days ago that we were probably going to have to go up and get him.”
The Rams were familiar with Austin. A week before the draft, the Rams held a private workout with Austin in Morgantown W.Va., where they caught a glimpse of what the speedster can do with the ball in his hands.
“Me and the coaches just clicked,” Austin said, courtesy of Yahoo!Sports. “I had a good feeling just off the vibe they were giving. It was all smiles and everything when I was there.”
This was a stellar move by GM Les Snead and head coach Jeff Fisher. Austin is an all-around baller. He can line up in the slot, or in the backfield. He can return kickoffs, punts. You name it, Austin can do it. His lightning-like 4.34 speed in the 40-yard dash is dazzling. Moreover, Austin is just 5’8”, 174 pounds.
Though undersized, Austin’s game speaks for itself. Last season, Austin caught 114 balls for 1,289 yards and scored 12 touchdowns. He ran the ball for 643 yards and three touchdowns on 72 attempts. Not to mention, Austin returned both a kickoff and punt for a touchdown. When it was all said and done, Austin finished last season with the most receptions in the Big 12 (114) and the most yards from scrimmage (1,932).
It was the first time the Rams took a receiver in the first round since selecting Torry Holt sixth overall in 1999.
“I would have to say we’re very excited, to say the least,” Fisher said, according to Yahoo!Sports. “It was a scenario we had been discussing for several days. We got two very explosive, talented young players that are going to help us right away.”
The second player Fisher referred to is Alec Ogletree, the Georgia linebacker taken No. 30 overall after the Rams made their second trade of the first round, getting two picks from Atlanta for the rights to Ogletree.
The Rams were in desperate need of an outside linebacker–one responsible for wreaking havoc on opposing quarterbacks and offensive linemen. Now, they have their man in Ogletree.
Ogletree was, perhaps, still on the board after a four-game in-season suspension and DUI arrest one week before the combine. But Ogletree has put his prior complications behind him.
“I was just happy to hear my name called,” Ogletree said, according to Yahoo!Sports. “I was dumb. I made a mistake and i just want to move forward.”
Fisher doesn’t mind dealing with Ogletree’s extensive college transcript. He’s dealt with similar situations before. (See Janoris Jenkins).
“We had Alec way up there,” Fisher said, courtesy of Yahoo!Sports. “People are going to make mistakes. This was a maturity issue.”
Vikings Land 3 Players in First Round
Minnesota began Day One of the draft with the No. 23 and No. 25 overall picks. However, when word spread that New England was shopping their first-round selection, Vikings GM Rick Spielman was bewildered at such an opportunity. The result had Spielman working the phones. After a few minutes, a deal was in place. The Vikings shipped a second-, third-, fourth-, and a seventh-round pick in exchange for the Patriots’ first-round spot. Stockpiled with picks, the Vikings took Florida defensive tackle Sherrif Floyd at No. 23, Florida State cornerback Xavier Rhodes at No. 25, and Tennessee receiver Cordarrelle Patterson with the 29th overall pick.
“I don’t know if it could have worked out any better,” Spielman said, courtesy of the Pioneer Press. “with the caliber of players we got with all three of those kids coming into our program.”
It was the first time the Vikings boasted three first-round picks since 1967. Ironically, the Vikings made their first Super Bowl appearance two years later.