Our 2013 Community Mock Draft [is underway]! In this annual exercise we put the fates of all 32 teams in the hands of our community. This exercise accomplishes several things. For one, we often have a bit of tunnel vision when it comes to the NFL. We will get a glimpse into the needs of each of the franchises. It also helps us get familiar with each of the first-round prospects because like last year in a trade up for Morris Claiborne, you never quite know what the future holds for Dallas.
Every GM has been informed of their team's needs and is ready to roll. Let's see who will be selected with the 16th pick in the draft!
Selection: (WR) [Tavon Austin, West Virginia]
Here's our GM with his explanation of the selection:
Why the pick: Rams lost their best receiver in Danny Amendola in free agency to the Pats and Austin represents a tremendous upgrade as a dynamic slot receiver who is very dangerous in space and gives Bradford a weapon to compliment Rams second round pick from last season Brian Quick as well as Austin Pettis.
Patterson and Cooper were strong considerations at 16 but since Rams have another pick at 22, they can address another need at that pick. Austin is one of those unique players who is a dynamic space playmaker much like Percy Harvin which is an element Rams passing game has been missing for quite some time.
HIGH PRIORITY TEAM NEEDS (lower number indicates higher priority) according to Drafttek.com
-- Threat Level Red (priority 1-2): 4-3 OLB, Feature Running Back, Feature Receiver, Guard, Free Safety, Strong Safety
-- Threat Level Orange (priority 3-4): 4-3 DT, 4-3 DE, Quarterback
-- Threat Level Yellow (priority 5-6): Cornerback, Possession Receiver, Slot Receiver, COP Back, Right Tackle, Tight End, Center, Left Tackle
-- Threat Level Green (priority 9): Middle LB
NFL.com Draft Grade: 91.4
-- Drafttek.com ranked #20 Overall, #2 at the position
-- Russ Lande, National Football Post: #16 Overall, #2 at the position
SUMMARY - While evaluating quarterback Geno Smith was enjoyable, Tavon Austin's explosive playmaking ability was the best part of grading West Virginia this year. Way too often people say that a receiver or running back is a touchdown threat every time he touches the ball and most of the time that is an exaggeration, but in Austin's case it is spot on. In today's NFL where big receivers are the "in" thing, premier slot receivers like Wes Welker have proven to be invaluable and with Austin's big play ability he should become a star quickly. Although few receivers under 5'10 ever become dominant number one receivers, I am confident Austin has the tools to become such a player, similar to the Panthers' Steve Smith. Overall, Austin is likely going to be a first round pick because he is more explosive than recent first round picks Kendall Wright and Jeremy Maclin. I believe that Austin will become an impact player who makes big plays as a receiver and returner throughout his career. His on field play reminds me a lot of current Eagles star DeSean Jackson.
-- CBSSports.com ranked #18 overall, #2 at the position
-- DraftInsider.Net ranked #22 overall, #3 at the position
-- DraftCountdown ranked #29 overall, #2 at the position
-- Scout.com ranked #17 overall, #2 at the position
-- Mike Mayock ranked #3 at the position
-- NFLDraftScout.com profile (Dane Brugler):
STRENGTHS: Video game-like athleticism with rare change of direction skills. Lateral explosion is something special, doing an excellent job sticking his foot in the ground and bursting in any direction.
Knows how to change gears and turn on the jets to blow by others on the field. Very good start/stop ability with patience and vision to quickly survey and waste little time creating, always appearing to have a plan. Goes zero-to-60 in a flash and forces poor angles by defenders, following blocks and anticipating holes to set up his moves.
Very good space player and extremely shifty and elusive with the balance and deceiving strength to stay on his feet through contact. Smaller target for defenders to square up and a tough ballcarrier to tackle in motion. Good body control to make tough catches look easy with quick hands to pluck. Fearless and confident going up for the ball. Tough, gutsy and can take a hit, working hard to get every yard.
Versatile skill-set with experience all over the offense at running back and receiver, often used as a decoy. Dangerous return man and very good at weaving through defenders, playing with different gears that others on the field just don't have. Extremely productive with numerous school records, including career catches and all-purpose yards.
WEAKNESSES: Smallish frame and limited length with obvious durability concerns due to size. Will dance too much and get caught going east-west too much or in reverse, getting himself in trouble always looking for the home run. Smaller hands and will have some drops and double-catches, sometimes looking to create before securing the grab.
Now On The Clock: Pittsburgh Steelers
Previous Picks: Chiefs: OT Luke Joeckel, Jaguars: CB Dee Milliner, Raiders: DE/OLB Jarvis Jones, Eagles: DE/OLB Dion Jordan, Lions: DE Ziggy Ansah, Browns: DE Sharrif Floyd, Cardinals: OT Eric Fisher, Bills: QB Geno Smith, Jets: DT Star Lotulelei, Titans: OG Chance Warmack, Chargers: OT Lane Johnson, Dolphins: CB Xavier Rhodes, Buccaneers: TE Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame, Panthers: DT Sheldon Richardson, Missouri, Saints: S Kenny Vaccaro, Texas