Thursday, April 25, 2013
Rams grab Tavon Austin at No. 8
ESPN.com news services
The St. Louis Rams got help for quarterback Sam Bradford, trading up eight spots with Buffalo and taking West Virginia wide receiver Tavon Austin with the eighth overall selection in the NFL draft Thursday night.
The Rams have been active on both draft days under coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead. Last year, they traded the second overall pick to the Redskins for a batch of premium picks, including the 22nd overall pick this year, which they ended up dealing to the Atlanta Falcons later Thursday night.
The Bills acquired the No. 16 pick from the Rams, which they used on Florida State quarterback EJ Manuel. Buffalo also got the Rams' second- and seventh-round picks in the deal, and the two teams swapped third-round picks.
The 5-foot-8, 172-pound Austin was considered the best overall wide receiver in the draft. He was an all-purpose threat at West Virginia, topping 100 receptions his junior and senior seasons with 20 touchdowns, averaging 8.9 yards on 72 carries last year and totaling four kickoff returns for touchdowns.
He is the first wideout the Rams have taken in the first round since 1999 (Torry Holt).
Austin was among the fastest players at the scouting combine with an official 40-yard dash of 4.34 seconds and with gaudy statistics to match that made him the first skill position player taken. His 2,910 all-purpose yards as a senior were fourth-most in NCAA history, and he totaled 17 touchdowns last season, including one each on punt and kickoff returns.
Despite a lack of size, Austin didn't miss a game in high school or college. His survival plan for the NFL is simple: "Get down when I need to get down. Step out of bounds when I need to."
When Snead telephoned with the news, it was no surprise. Austin got positive signals during his visit to St. Louis and when the Rams went to Morgantown, W.Va., for a private visit just before the draft.
At the Rams' pre-draft news conference, Fisher said he had no problem taking a shorter player at wide receiver because the 6-4 Bradford would be able to find him.
"Me and the coaches just clicked," Austin said. "I had a good feeling just off the vibe they were giving. It was all smiles and everything when I was there."
Wide receiver has been a position of need for several seasons. The Rams needed one more than ever heading into draft day after Danny Amendola left in free agency, leaving them with a crop of youngsters led by Chris Givens, a fourth-rounder last year.
In all, five trades were made in the first round:
• The Miami Dolphins traded up to the No. 3 overall pick to select outside linebacker Dion Jordan of Oregon.
The Dolphins swung a trade with Oakland, giving up the Nos. 12 and 42 overall choices. The latter was the first of two picks Miami had in the second round.
The 6-6, 240-pound Jordan had 14.5 sacks in 45 games with Oregon.
The Dolphins needed a left tackle, and three of the top four picks in the draft were tackles, but general manager Jeff Ireland instead opted to upgrade a defense lacking in playmakers.
Miami tied for fourth-worst in the league last year in takeaways.
Jordan, who attended the draft in New York, didn't see the pick coming.
"I was surprised," he said. "The trade, I wasn't expecting that. I'm surprised and very blessed and ready to go to work."
Jordan, who can play defensive end or outside linebacker, has drawn comparisons to former Dolphin Jason Taylor.
Jordan wasn't regarded a can't-miss prospect. He wasn't an every-down player at Oregon, and he missed playing time last season because of a right shoulder injury.
But the Dolphins envision him as a complement to Pro Bowl defensive end Cameron Wake, who ranked fourth in the NFL last year with 15 sacks.
"We took a player we coveted quite a bit," Ireland said. "You've got to knock the quarterback down. You've got to take the ball away. This guy can do one of those two things."
• The San Francisco 49ers traded up to No. 18 with the Dallas Cowboys to select cornerback Eric Reid of LSU.
The Cowboys acquired the Nos. 31 and 74 selections from the Niners.
Making the move showed just how much the team believes it could have an immediate-impact player for the 2013 season.
"Unanimous decision that Eric Reid was our pick," coach Jim Harbaugh said on the team website.
Safety was considered a significant need by general manager Trent Baalke for the 49ers, who lost Dashon Goldson to Tampa Bay at the start of the league's free-agency period in March.
Reid played three seasons for LSU and is still considered a raw talent in pass coverage. He could make an immediate impact on kick coverage.
In 39 career college games with 26 starts over three seasons for the Tigers, the 6-1, 213-pound Reid finished with 199 tackles, six interceptions, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, 11 pass breakups and 4.5 tackles for loss.
"It really stands out," Harbaugh said. "He believes that he's a winner all the way and champion kind of guy and football player. I can't wait to have him here in our home in Santa Clara. I'm sure he's excited to have the process start and know the team that wanted him the most."
• The Falcons traded up to select Washington cornerback Desmond Trufant.
The Falcons worked a deal with the Rams to land the 22nd overall pick. They swapped the 30th selection, and gave up their third- and sixth-round picks.
Trufant fills a major need after Atlanta lost three cornerbacks during the offseason. Dunta Robinson was released in a cost-cutting move, while Brent Grimes and Christopher Owens signed with other teams in free agency.
There were only four cornerbacks on the roster -- one of them a practice-squad player -- before Atlanta selected Trufant.
"He's a guy who just seems to find the football," said coach Mike Smith, who expects the newcomer to compete right away for a starting job.
Trufant follows two older brothers into the league. Marcus has been a starting cornerback for the Seattle Seahawks since being picked in the first round a decade ago, while Isaiah worked his way through two lower-level leagues before getting a chance to play corner with the New York Jets the past two seasons.
"They're here with me watching the draft," Desmond said on a conference call late Thursday. "Now, I'm going to try to make a name, make an impact in the league. I'm ready to come in and work hard from day one."
• The Minnesota Vikings traded up to take Tennessee wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson with the 29th selection.
The deal was made with New England, which acquired Minnesota's 52nd, 83rd, 102nd and 229th overall picks in the deal.
Vikings general manager Rick Spielman was holding a news conference to discuss the team's first two first-rounders, defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd and cornerback Xavier Rhodes. He then sprinted out of the room, and the trade was announced a short time later.
"We were very, very aggressive to go do that because I know what he can do as a receiver, but especially what he can do as a potential punt and kickoff returner," Spielman said. "Because he is magic in that area as well."
Patterson addresses another big need after the team traded star Percy Harvin to Seattle in the offseason. He will give quarterback Christian Ponder the big outside receiver he's been missing.
Patterson had 46 catches for 778 yards and five touchdowns last year, and said he feels a sense of responsibility to the Vikings after they gave up so much to draft him.
"It means a lot to me," Patterson said. "From not expecting to be on the Vikings, it was great to see all that they gave up to get me. I feel like I can be a great player for them."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.