West Virginia WR Tavon Austin
Tavon Austin, Chance Warmack and Kenny Vaccaro have been connected to the St. Louis Rams in various mock drafts, assessing some glaring needs that the Blue and Gold have sustained this offseason. They need major help out wide, in the defensive backfield and on the offensive line.
But the Rams only have two first-round picks to plug into their lineup. Who do fans most want to see suiting up in St. Louis?
Let’s profile a few options.
Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
The 2013 NFL draft’s most explosive and versatile entering playmaker stands just 5’8” tall, but it’s impossible to deny his productivity. Austin’s stock continues to rise.
His ascent has planted him inside the first quarter of the draft’s opening frame in NFL analyst Daniel Jeremiah’s latest mock. That’s no surprise at all, considering the value of today’s slot receiver.
But it’s eight spots higher than the Rams are first scheduled to make a selection—too rich to move up for a team with so many needs. Still, there are size issues—concerning his durability, which was never a problem in college—floating out there that threaten to keep Austin’s draft position lower.
If he’s available at the 16 spot, St. Louis should sprint to the podium and grab him.
If the Rams are going to take a wideout in the first round, it’s best to get a guy whose hype stems from his production (114 receptions, 1,932 total yards, 15 total touchdowns as a senior) more than his potential. They have enough “potential” guys on the roster already.
Their oldest wide receiver to catch a pass last season is 24.
Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
Cordarrelle Patterson’s stock is heading in the opposite direction when compared to his slot machine counterpart, Tavon Austin.
Who would you like to see the St. Louis Rams draft at No. 16 overall?
Austin is a better fit for the Rams organization at this stage because of his experience. Patterson’s at a disadvantage for this team because that’s what he lacks.
If the goal is for the young man to succeed at the NFL level—which is what whichever team that drafts him would want—his best bet would be to go to a squad with at least one or two established veterans at his position.
The Rams have none.
Patterson may have greater upside with a squad like the Buffalo Bills (No. 8 overall), Carolina Panthers (No. 14) or New Orleans Saints (No. 15). Of course, playoff teams like the Indianapolis Colts (No. 21) or Houston Texans (No. 27) could benefit from his services, as well.
What separates those teams from St. Louis?
They all have entrenched No. 1 receivers.
Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
By releasing Quintin Mikell and allowing Craig Dahl to leave via free agency, the St. Louis Rams have created a sizable void in their defensive backfield. Neither was a huge factor in forcing turnovers, but they at least had experience as starters.
Who would you like to see the St. Louis Rams draft at No. 22 overall?
Dahl was the only one of the two to recover a fumble or pick off a pass. He had one interception. Mikell forced four fumbles, though, while Dahl forced none.
As the consensus top safety in this class, Vaccaro can help improve the Rams’ secondary. This is especially true if Mikell is brought back under a more team-friendly contract, which has been discussed.
If the Rams miss out on Vaccaro, they’ll have opportunities to add to their safety group with a deep draft and free-agent class at the position. Maybe that diminishes Vaccaro’s value in St. Louis’ eyes.
Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
The St. Louis Rams’ most long-standing need is elite offensive line talent. Chance Warmack’s NFL combine numbers weren’t elite, but his production is.
This guy blocked for a Heisman winner (Mark Ingram), a No. 3 overall pick (Trent Richardson) and a third potential first-round running back (Eddie Lacy) during his tenure at Alabama. Those are some nice accomplishments to put on one’s résumé.
Oh, and three national championships. He could find space for those, too.
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