2013 NFL DRAFT News & Notes

As predicted, the 2013 NFL Draft was one of … unpredictability. It started with the Kansas City Chiefs keeping their cards close to the vest until the end, as they ultimately selected Central Michigan offensive tackle Eric Fisher as the No. 1 overall pick. Fisher is the second player from Central Michigan to be selected in the first round, following offensive tackle Joe Staley, who is presently protecting the blind side of San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick, in 2007.

With the second pick in the draft, Jacksonville then selected offensive tackle Luke Joeckel from Texas A&M. Joeckel becomes only the fifth player from A&M to be selected in the top five since 1967.

With the 20th selection, the younger brother of Rams defensive end Chris Long and son of Pro Football Hall of famer Howie Long, Kyle Long, was plucked by the Chicago Bears. Kyle becomes the ninth son of a Pro Football Hall of Fame player or coach to be drafted into the league. Howie Long is the first Pro Hall of Famer ever to have two sons chosen in the NFL draft – and both were drafted in the first round.

With Day 1 of the 2013 NFL draft in the books, the SEC is again off to a great start, carrying the flag as the conference with the most players drafted. Since 2000, the SEC leads all conferences with 540 total draft choices:

Rams Notes:

** There was one name bantered around the most over the last 72 hours prior to the kick-off of the 2013 NFL draft. That player’s name was Tavon Austin, West Virginia wide receiver. He had been the focal point for the Rams, who held not one but two private workouts with the dual-threat dynamo. The Rams knew that the New York Jets, sitting at the ninth overall pick, had a great interest in Austin; the glaring need for receivers was like a beacon on a lighthouse that could be seen for miles. If the Rams would have stayed pat and picked, they would have missed out on the player they coveted. Head coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead worked their magic and secured a trade with the Buffalo Bills, who held the eighth overall pick. They were looking to trade out of the spot, get a lower pick value and take the quarterback.

When the Rams selected Austin, the media room, which sits under the offensive meeting room, erupted. It was as though we were in the middle of an earthquake, all gazing at the ceiling as if something was going to fall through.

As I walked up the stairs and down the hall, I secured a position outside the war room and waited on Coach Fisher for a live interview. Coaches, scouts and other members of the organization filtered out with high fives, laughter and jubilation. Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, in particular, was all smiles and added a fist pump.

However, the Rams were not done wheeling and dealing. Fisher and Snead got back on the phones and looked to trade out of the 22nd pick – which is exactly what happened. The Rams eventually landed in the 30th slot held by the Atlanta Falcons. The draft proceeded to fall right in order for the Rams to select Georgia outside linebacker Alec Ogletree, a converted safety who outgrew the position and was moved closer to the line of scrimmage.

Softli’s Film Evaluations

Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia            5’8-174 30 9 1/8

Explosive things come in small packages. This is a very versatile player. The former running back has developed into a natural slot machine with production as a receiver and return specialist. Austin has exceptional burst, acceleration, COD and playmaking ability every time he touches the ball. He is a difference-maker despite inferior size.

Alec Ogletree, DB, Georgia        6’2-242 33 1/2 10

This underclassmen and former defensive back gradually grew into his frame and now plays at a high level closer to the line of scrimmage. Ogletree possesses a very good athletic skill set with good FBI (football instincts), awareness in space and man coverage skills. Has excellent temperament with chase-and-pursuit production, in or outside of box. Off-field issues, however, have raised the eyebrows of many NFL decision-makers.

** “I would have to say that we’re very excited, to say the least,” Fisher stated, when asked how the Rams felt about their first-day selections. “It was a scenario that we had been discussing for several days. In this particular draft, 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 Rams surrendered their second-round pick in the trade-up for Austin. The question remains: Will Fisher and Snead  work to trade back into the second round to help carve away at the rest of their needs list, which includes safety, running back, and interior offensive and defensive linemen.