“Definitely not. I always had big dreams and I believed in myself, that I was going to get to the league," Austin said after the St. Louis Rams traded up eight spots to secure him in the first round of the draft. "But being the first skill position off the board, ending up No. 8 in the first round, with all the critics and my size and everything, I definitely didn’t expect this. I kept faith in myself and family did, and I was glad that it happened.”
Austin knew that the Rams liked him, but couldn't have expected that they would expend so much to get him. Worried that he wold be gone by the time their pick (#16 in the first round) hit the board, the Rams sent that pick, their second (#46) and their seventh (#222) to make sure they got the Mountaineer speedster. St. Louis did get a minor bump in the third round, getting Buffalo's #71 overall pick in exchange for their #78 slot, but all in all it was clear that the Rams were going to do everything possible to get the slot receiver they coveted.
"I definitely had a feeling they liked me," Austin noted. "When I went up there for their visit I definitely connected well with all the coaches, Coach (Jeff) Fisher and the G.M. (General Manager Les Snead) and everybody. I definitely had a good feeling, just off the vibe they were giving. We did soft spirals and everything when I was there.
"Then when I knew they came back to watch me at West Virginia work out, we definitely hit it off there, too. They put me on the board when I was there, and me and the coaches just clicked. I’m just thankful for this opportunity they’re giving me.”
The new rookie wage scale imposed a couple of years ago means that Austin, as the #8 overall pick, can expect a signing bonus of around $7.6 million dollars on a mandatory four-year deal, which all rookies are bound to (an option for a fifth year does exist). His total compensation, should he remain in the league four years, would be somewhere in the neighborhood of $12.7 million.
That's heady money for the Baltimore native, but he's not focusing on that at the moment. Instead, he's concentrating on making a good impression when he arrives for mini-camps and OTAs later this spring.
“I’m going to come to the team and I’m definitely going to work hard, that’s No. 1," he listed. "I’m not going to be a distraction. I’m going to come in and play wherever the team needs me to play – so, special teams, running back or slot receiver. I’m going to come in with the right mindset and hopefully put some points on the board and help this team get some wins.”
As a first round pick, Austin doesn't have much to worry about in terms of making the squad, as high draft picks are almost never released in their first year. He joins a roster that is quite short on experience, which should give him a respectable chance for solid playing time.
Austin Pettis is the veteran of the current roster with two years of experience. He shows 557 catches for 517 yards and four scores for St. Louis.
Second year players on the team include Chris Given (42 catches for 698 yards and 3 TDs in 2012)and Brian Quick (15-156-2). Raymond Radway and Nick Johnson, who have not played in a game in the NFL, are also listed on the roster.
Listen to Tavon Austin's interview following his selection.