Shortly after commissioner Roger Goodell took the stage in Radio City Music Hall, the St. Louis Rams got aggressive by trading up to the No. 8 spot to select West Virginia wide receiver Tavon Austin.
Their moves didn’t end there, as general manager Les Snead executed a second trade on Thursday night. He descended down the draft order and gift-wrapped Georgia linebacker Alec Ogletree to Jeff Fisher at pick No. 30.
Day 2 brought no trades; the Rams had no second-round picks and selected USC safety T.J. McDonald (No. 71) and West Virginia wideout Stedman Bailey (No. 92) in the third round.
On Day 3, St. Louis retained its original fourth- and fifth-round selections. Snead spent them on Alabama do-it-all offensive lineman Barrett Jones (No. 113) and Miami cornerback Brandon McGee (No. 149).
He then packaged his remaining pair of sixth-rounders to jump back into the fifth and draft Vanderbilt running back Zac Stacy at No. 160 overall. After that, the Rams bowed out early with no remaining picks.
What follows is live analysis for the picks as they happened.
Jamal Collier is the St. Louis Rams draft correspondent for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @StatManJ.
A bold move like that was mainly necessitated by two things: the Rams’ need for proven production at the wide receiver position and the buzz surrounding Austin and the New York Jets, who picked at No. 9. St. Louis paid for the ability to choose him, but that means they should have a clear plan in mind to utilize his skills.
Given that the alternative first-round wide receivers all have more to prove than Austin does, the aggressive maneuver has to look good for Jeff Fisher and Les Snead. They were able to get a favorable third-round swap, but the lack of a second-round pick for a roster with so many holes is risky.
The biggest concern about Austin coming into the league is due to his ability to stay healthy at 5’8”, 174 pounds—despite never never missing a practice in college. He’s a difference-maker on offense for a team that has sorely needed one for a long time.
St. Louis hasn’t had a 700-yard receiver since Torry Holt in 2008.
Alec Ogletree fits a big-time need on defense for the St. Louis Rams at No. 30 overall. They got a couple of picks back by dropping from No. 22 to select the linebacker.
At 6’2”, 242 pounds, Ogletree gives St. Louis some speed at the outside linebacker position next to the sure tackler in middle linebacker James Laurinaitis. He comes with some risk off the field, but the apologetic Georgia product used to be associated with a top-10 pick in the draft.
Les Snead and Jeff Fisher are gambling on his talent, getting a little more bold than they were when they selected cornerback Janoris Jenkins in the second round last year. If he can stay clean off the field, he’ll be able to put some guys in the dirt on it.
Florida International’s Johnathan Cyprien was still on the board, but so are plenty of other safeties. The Rams must have a plan to get one or two of the depth DBs in later rounds.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that St. Louis likes Syracuse safety Shamarko Thomas. They'll probably need two, though.
The St. Louis Rams knew they had a gaping hole in their defensive backfield. They attempted to fill it with the big-bodied T.J. McDonald, a 6’2”, 219-pound safety from USC.
The selection came after a run of three straight cornerbacks and four of the first eight picks in the third round being attributed to defensive backfield players. McDonald was the third safety to be chosen on Friday night, following Johnathan Cyprien (No. 33 to the Jacksonville Jaguars) and D.J. Swearinger (No. 57 to the Houston Texans).
There was no aggressive second-day maneuver that changed where the Rams made their first pick. Everybody knew they needed a safety. Les Snead and Jeff Fisher stood their ground while DBs flew off the board right in front of them, anyway.
Early for McDonald, but a Massive need for STL....DBs falling off board!— Matt Williamson (@WilliamsonNFL) April 27, 2013
St. Louis apparently got its guy, but it’s hard not to think they could’ve gone in a different direction or traded down with this pick and still secured McDonald later on. Maybe they were spooked by the run on defensive backs—they do need two, after all.
As if Tavon Austin and Jared Cook weren’t enough weapons—and with only three wide receivers on board before the draft, they weren’t—the St. Louis Rams went back to the West Virginia well and selected wide receiver Stedman Bailey.
In a draft that includes so many wide receivers who were getting pushed up the board due to their potential, St. Louis went back and got a guy with a résumé.
Bailey caught 114 passes for 1,622 yards and 25—twenty-five!—touchdowns at West Virginia as a junior. He didn’t run the football nearly as much as his old (and new) teammate, Tavon Austin, but Bailey also took a couple of rushing attempts.
He scored 37 touchdowns since 2011, and his 25 TDs in 2012 led the nation—by a lot.
All of that cost St. Louis the No. 92 pick overall.
If three quarterbacks weren’t selected in the first 13 picks on the third day, the St. Louis Rams probably would not have had the opportunity to nab Alabama offensive lineman Barrett Jones. His linemates, Chance Warmack and D.J. Fluker, went back-to-back in the top half of the first round.
Jones (6’4”, 306 pounds) has long arms (34 1/8”) and showed plenty of versatility with the national champion Crimson Tide—he’s played every position on the O-line—which should be valued by St. Louis.
He fits a major need for a team that can’t seem to keep its linemen healthy. As decorated as he was at Alabama, this selection didn’t feel like a reach in the fourth round.
If Brandon McGee doesn’t have to play much as a rookie, the St. Louis Rams will be in pretty good shape at cornerback. Cortland Finnegan (free agent in 2012), Janoris Jenkins (second-rounder in 2012) and Trumaine Johnson (third-rounder in 2012) attracted more of an investment from GM Les Snead and company.
You can’t have too many corners in the NFL, and McGee is a 5’11” guy with quicks and speed. He was a top performer in the 3-cone drill (6.71 seconds) and ran a 4.40 40.
He should be a depth contributor as a DB, but the Rams still need a safety. We’ll see if McGee can make an impact in limited playing time as big as Bacarri Rambo (Georgia) or Josh Evans (Florida) would have. If they can still come up with a guy like that in the sixth round, this grade will be more favorable.
McGee might be the Rams’ second “reach,” but Jeff Fisher is pretty good with DBs. Finnegan (and his $50 million contract) can tell you that.
The St. Louis Rams have heard throughout the process that they needed a running back—despite having three rising sophomores on the roster—as early as the first round. They (and I) disagreed with that idea, but the Rams found a guy they liked enough to trade for him in the fifth round.
That guy was Vanderbilt running back Zac Stacy, who’s got a little speed (4.55-second 40) and is a load at 5’8” and 216 pounds.
Les and crew were really psyched about Stacy after working him out at Vandy...
— Kara Henderson Snead (@KaraHenderson) April 27, 2013
St. Louis exchanged both of its sixth-round picks (Nos. 184 and 192) for the right to select Stacy at No. 160. He’s not the same type of body as Daryl Richardson (5’10”, 196 pounds) or Isaiah Pead (5’10”, 197). He does, however, have the build of a mini-Terrance Ganaway (6’0”, 240), who didn’t get any carries in 2012.
Maybe he won’t in 2013, either.
Stacy seems like the guy for goal-line situations going forward: a short target with a low center of gravity who has good quickness (6.70-second 3-cone drill) and packs a punch. He’s bigger than Ray Rice (5’8”, 212 pounds) and benched 225 27 times at the NFL combine.
Barring a trade into the sixth or seventh round, Stacy will be the Rams’ final selection in the 2013 NFL draft. They can spend the last two rounds determining who their priority free agents will be while everyone else is making picks.