Tavon Austin’s uniform colors aren’t going to change much next season.
The St. Louis Rams got their man by swapping first-round picks with the Buffalo Bills, sacrificing their second- and seventh-round picks and swapping third-rounders in the process. It’s a steep price tag for the pick, considering the Miami Dolphins had to give up just a second-rounder to ascend nine spots (from No. 12 to No. 3), while the Rams jumped up eight.
St. Louis GM Les Snead and head coach Jeff Fisher are set to embark on their second season together with their second top selection in the NFL draft being the result of a trade:
St. Louis Rams Receive:
No. 8 (Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia)
Buffalo Bills Receive:
Austin will bring his explosive play-making ability to St. Louis and be expected to succeed the recently departed Danny Amendola’s slot-receiving duties right away. Amendola was targeted 101 times in 11 games last year—an average of 9.2 looks per contest. Sam Bradford’s second-most looked-upon target, Brandon Gibson, is also out of town.
Gibson drew 82 passes in 16 games, a 5.1 average.
While size has been a concern for Austin—and Amendola has missed an average of 10 games per year over the last two seasons—the rookie didn’t miss a practice in college.
His on-field production speaks for itself: In his last two seasons at West Virginia, Austin hauled in 215 passes for 2,475 yards and 20 touchdowns. He also rushed 88 times for 825 yards and four more scores.
The other top prospects at the wide receiver position in this class don’t have that type of production under their belts; the wideout that is most questioned because of his size is also the most accomplished.
Snead and Fisher seem secure with his numbers and tape.
Austin also offers value—should St. Louis choose to use him thusly—as a return man, having run back four kicks for TDs since 2011. Based on the haul that they sent Buffalo, the Rams have a clear vision in place for him that will showcase his speed and elusiveness as a terror on the field for years to come.
Daniel Jeremiah @MoveTheSticks
Last yr, SEA hit the jackpot on a player that was considered "too short". Tavon Austin could be the winning ticket this yr. #NFLDraft2/28/2013, 8:24:07 PM
The Bills, meanwhile, get to facilitate the removal of Austin from their division—and, barring a Super Bowl, won’t have to compete against the monster they created until Austin is in his fourth season.
Being in opposite conferences and playing the year prior to the pick’s arrival will do that sort of thing.
Jamal Collier is the St. Louis Rams draft correspondent for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @StatManJ.