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Thursday, April 25, 2013
On Rams' move up for WR Tavon Austin

By Mike Sando


St. Louis Rams general manager Les Snead has repeatedly vowed to act boldly and without fear. The team is succeeding on both fronts.

One year after swinging a blockbuster trade with the Washington Redskins, Snead and the Rams moved up eight spots in the first round of the 2013 NFL draft Thursday to select West Virginia receiver Tavon Austin at No. 8 overall.

The Rams sent the 16th, 46th, 78th and 222nd choices to Buffalo for the eighth and 71st choices. The exchange lined up evenly on the traditional trade-value chart dating to the early 1990s. However, the Rams came out ahead using some of the modernized trade-value calculations, such as the ones Steve Drake has made easy to figure out.

Austin
This is an exciting move for the Rams because Austin projects as a game-breaking talent with value in the return game. He is 5-foot-8 and 174 pounds with a slight lower body, so he is not another Percy Harvin. Still, Austin can affect a game in some of the same ways, and his salary will easily fit into the Rams' salary structure thanks to the rookie wage scale that has given teams even more incentive to build through the draft.

Austin gives the Rams needed playmaking help. He joins a receiving corps featuring Chris Givens, Brian Quick and Austin Pettis, plus tight ends Jared Cook and Lance Kendricks.

Quarterback Sam Bradford has needed upgraded weapons for some time. Now, he might have them. Austin should be a factor right away. His size raises concerns about long-term durability. That will be something to watch, for sure, as Austin navigates a rough-and-tumble NFC West featuring extremely physical defenses.