The St. Louis Rams took a big gamble by trading the pick that led to Robert Griffin III last year, and they are making it pay off for them now.
With two first-round selections, the Rams bartered around and wound up with two exciting players to lead what was an outstanding effort by the Rams brass.
Here is the breakdown on the Rams and next two biggest winners of the 2013 NFL draft.
St. Louis Rams: A+
1st Round (8): Tavon Austin (WR, West Virginia)
1st Round (30): Alec Ogletree (LB, Georgia)
3rd Round (71): T.J. McDonald (S, USC)
3rd Round (92): Stedman Bailey (WR, West Virginia)
4th Round (113): Barrett Jones (C, Alabama)
5th Round (149): Brandon McGee (CB, Miami)
5th Round (160): Zachary Stacy (RB, Vanderbilt
The Rams were wheeling and dealing to start this draft. They traded up to No. 8 to draft Tavon Austin, and then down to No. 30 to draft Alec Ogletree.
The net of those maneuvers resulted in a slight loss in value in picks, but what the Rams acquired more than makes up for it.
Austin is the most explosive player in this class. Anytime he gets his hands on the ball, he is a threat to take it to the house. There is nothing the Rams needed more than a big-play threat on offense.
Ogletree was a good value at No. 30, and he will be a nice boost for the Rams in pass coverage. Helping that coverage will also be safety T.J. McDonald, who fills a big need for St. Louis.
Helping Sam Bradford along even more is the addition of Steadman Bailey, who will provide a consistent target.
Making a bold move to draft the perfect player at the top of the draft and then recouping picks and still getting a good value selection in the first round was impressive.
The Rams will be a team to watch in the tough NFC West.
Cincinnati Bengals: A
1st Round (21): Tyler Eifert (TE, Alabama)
2nd Round (37): Giovani Bernard (RB, UNC)
2nd Round (53): Marqus Hunt (DE, SMU)
3rd Round (84): Shawn Williams (S, Georgia)
4th Round (178): Sean Porter (OLB, Texas A&M)
5th Round (215): Tanner Hawkinson (OT, Kansas)
6th Round (190): Rex Burkhead (RB, Nebraska)
6th Round (197): Cobi Hamilton (WR, Arkansas)
Not many saw the Bengals going with tight end Tyler Eifert at No. 21. With Jermaine Gresham already in place, tight end did not appear to be a big priority.
However, Eifert was a good value, and he will be a great target for Andy Dalton right off the bat, and that is the key to this selection.
If the Bengals are going to get to the next level with Dalton, they have to give him plenty of weapons, and that's what they did.
In addition to Eifert, Dalton will be helped out by Giovani Bernard. He will not only boost the run game but also give Dalton another safe and reliable option in the passing game. Bernard is a quality receiver out of the backfield.
What I really like about the Bengals draft was that they didn't reach for a safety in Round 1. Finding an upgrade over Taylor Mays was a priority, but with the top two safeties already gone, there was not a good value in Round 1 at No. 21.
Shawn Williams was a nice value, and he stands a great shot to earn the starting job.
Minnesota Vikings: A
1st Round (23): Sharrif Floyd (DT, Florida)
1st Round (25): Xavier Rhodes (CB, Florida State)
1st Round (29): Cordarrelle Patterson (WR, Tennessee)
4th Round (120): Gerald Hodges (OLB Penn State)
5th Round (155): Jeff Locke (P, UCLA)
6th Round (196): Jeff Baca (G, UCLA)
7th Round (213): Michael Mauti (ILB, Penn State)
7th Round (214): Travis Bond (G, UNC)
Things worked out great for the Vikings. At No. 23, they landed a guy, at a position of need nonetheless, that many had mocked going in the top three with Sharrif Floyd.
Floyd has the ability to be a dominant force on the interior of the defensive line for years to come, and he will help defensive tackle Kevin Williams extend his career.
Another big need for the Vikings was corner, and wouldn't you know it, but at at No. 25 Xavier Rhodes—the second-best corner in this class in the eyes of many—was sitting there waiting.
The Vikings then moved up into the first round to address another need with wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson. Patterson is raw, but he is athletically gifted. Just on athleticism alone, he will be able to stretch a defense and make life easier on Adrian Peterson.
The Vikings didn't pick again until the fourth round, as the trade up cost them an arm and a leg, but it was worth it.
This team needed a deep threat, and it got the best one in the draft.
In the end, the Vikings wound up with three guys who figure to make huge impacts next season on a team coming off a run (literally) to the postseason. That is definitely a win.
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