Coming off a great turnaround in 2012, the Rams were off to a hot start. They had their best season in years, and had a nice supply of draft picks thanks to the RGIII trade in the 2012 draft. They we’re ready to build for the future and make the next step in 2013.
At the time, the dust hadn’t settled from the RGIII trade. He brought the Redskins back to the playoffs and won Rookie of the Year in the process. The Rams had to nail this draft and prove that they got the better end of the deal.
Now in 2017, we know the Rams won the RGIII trade. But did they nail this draft? Well…
St. Louis Rams receive 2016 Buffalo First Round (8) and Third Round (71) picks. Buffalo Bills receive St. Louis First Round (16), Second Round (46), Third Round (78), and Seventh Round (222) picks.
Round 1, Pick 8 – St. Louis Rams select WR Tavon Austin, West Virginia – C-. The Rams traded up in the draft to select the do-it-all prospect from West Virginia, so these two moves are getting graded together.
This is one of the most complicated decisions to break down of the entire Snead era. Tavon Austin is not a bust. He’s actually a very good football player. When he gets the ball in the open field he’s as dangerous as anyone in the game. He’s an elite player in the return game. Austin has been the most exciting and explosive player on the Rams since he joined the team. He’s a great offensive weapon.
But the Rams didn’t need a great offensive weapon. They needed, and still need, a great wide receiver. The scouting report on Austin was never that he would become a Torry Holt kind of player, but rather a cross between Percy Harvin and Wes Welker. Had the Rams chosen not to trade up, DeAndre Hopkins would have still been available 16 or or 22, a pick the Rams had at the time. Hopkins was much more of the kind of player the Rams needed to pair with Sam Bradford.
But even then, let’s forget for a second that the Rams didn’t need a player like Austin but were dying to add a player like him. Cordarrelle Patterson wasn’t taken till the 29th pick. And Patterson, a guy who was labeled as a draft bust by many, has been a better return man than Austin since he came into the league and actually had very comparable offensive stats to Austin in 2016. Let’s just say that the Vikings didn’t exactly throw $40 million dollars at Patterson last offseason.
Most draft picks are hit and miss, but Austin is different. He wasn’t a miss, but he certainly wasn’t a hit given the price they paid and how high he was drafted. The Rams never lost sleep over drafting Austin, but they could have done more with the draft picks involved in selecting him.
St. Louis Rams receive Atlanta First Round (30), Third Round (92) and Sixth Round (198) picks. Atlanta Falcons Receive St. Louis First (22) and Seventh Round (227) picks – A+. Factoring in the Tavon Austin selection, the Rams basically picked up an extra third round pick, moved up 20 spots later in the draft and still got the guy they would have taken at 22. Between this pick and the Alec Ogletree selection at 30, the only positions taken were defensive linemen, cornerbacks, and wide receivers, none of which the Rams were likely to take. Obviously missing out on Xavier Rhodes and DeAndre Hopkins can be taken as a loss, but since the Rams had already drafted Austin and had a few promising young corners on the roster, it’s highly doubtful either of them would have been the selection.
Round 1, Pick 30 – St. Louis Rams select LB Alec Ogletree, Georgia – A-. Alec Ogletree has consistently been one of the Rams’ leading tacklers when he’s healthy and has been a very solid player for the Rams over the last four years. Center Travis Frederick was the next selection, which may haunt some Rams fans right now, but it’s hard to complain about Ogletree. He was a fine choice at 30.
Round 3, Pick 71 – St. Louis Rams select S TJ McDonald, USC – B+. Whenever a third round pick starts every game he’s played in over four years, it’s hard to give it a bad grade. McDonald has been far from perfect, but he’s been a capable player for the most part in the Rams secondary and was a fine choice at 71 for a position the Rams needed to address.
However, the Rams chose to take another receiver 20 picks later. In between McDonald and Stedman Bailey, players named Keenan Allen and Jordan Reed were selected. Allen has battled injuries but has been very efficient when healthy, and Reed is arguably one of the two best tight ends in the NFL. Those two in horns make for an interesting thought.
Round 3, Pick 92 – St. Louis Rams select WR Stedman Bailey, West Virginia – B-. The Rams chose to bring in Tavon Austin’s Mountaineer running mate Stedman Bailey late in the third round. Bailey only got better and better during his tenure with the Rams, emerging as a starter during the 2015 season. Unfortunately, Bailey was shot in the head while serving a suspension during the 2015 season, likely ending his playing career. But you can’t knock the draft grade for something out of their control.
Round 4, Pick 113 – St. Louis Rams select G Barrett Jones, Alabama – D+. Barrett Jones turned out to be a massive bust, but there wasn’t a single Rams fan that didn’t like this pick at the time. Jones had a decorated college career. He won three national championships and was named a consensus All-American in his last two years with the Crimson Tide. The logic of this pick saves it from being an F.
Round 5, Pick 149 – St. Louis Rams select CB Brandon McGee, Miami (FL) – F. McGee played for the Rams for a little over two years, but he was never a productive player and didn’t play in the NFL in 2016.
St. Louis Rams Receive Houston Fifth Round Pick (160), Houston Texans Receive St. Louis Sixth Round picks (184 & 198)
Round 5, Pick 160 – St. Louis Rams select RB Zac Stacy, Vanderbilt – B-. The Rams moved both of their sixth round picks to hop up in the draft and select future fantasy football legend Zac Stacy, aka “The Staced God.” Stacy brought life to an otherwise dying Rams offense during his rookie season, rushing for 973 yards and seven touchdowns despite not appearing in the first two games of the season. Things didn’t exactly go as expected in the following years, and Stacy was traded after the Rams drafted Todd Gurley in 2015. Stacy retired following the 2016 season, but Rams fans will always remember him fondly.
Undrafted Free Agents – A-. The Rams managed to nab a couple late bloomers as undrafted free agents in 2013. The first being safety Cody Davis, who did not do much with the Rams from 2013-2015 before having a nice breakout 2016 campaign. The other is running back Benny Cunningham, who has proven to be a more than capable backup running back. Despite Daryl Richardson, Zac Stacy, and Tre Mason having successful stints as the starting tailback, it’s been Cunningham who’s had the most successful tenure with the Rams, despite being a backup his entire career. The Rams did fine here.
Overall Draft Grade – C.
The Tavon Austin trade and selection sums up this whole draft. By no means did the Rams miss here, but they really didn’t hit either.
Highs: Moving back from 22 and selecting Alec Ogletree at 30 while picking up some extra picks in the process was the highlight of this draft. TJ Mcdonald has had a solid career given where he was drafted. Zac Stacy had a very fun rookie year.
Lows: Did we really trade up in the draft to take Tavon Austin when we could have stood pat or traded down to select DeAndre Hopkins?
The 2013 NFL Draft was the most Jeff Fisher of the era, meaning it was very average. Stay tuned for the 2014 draft review, where Les Snead made the best and worst draft picks of his career in the same round!
Steve Rebeiro is a staff writer and podcast host for Rams Talk. He graduated from Marquette University in 2016. For more of his opinions, follow him on Twitter here or check out his podcast Tejas and Lil Stevie.