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NFL St Louis Rams

2013 NFL Draft: St. Louis Rams Make Tavon Austin Highest-Drafted Offensive WVU Player Since 1986

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Former West Virginia Mountaineers star Tavon Austin was selected with the eighth pick in the 2013 NFL Draft last night by the St. Louis Rams. This makes Austin the tenth Mountaineers player to be selected in the first round of the NFL draft in the history of the program.

I’ve heard scouts and experts across the nation say Austin is the best player in this year’s draft class.

At the end of the 2012 college football season, Mountaineers fans knew their three offensive stars would make a splash heading towards the NFL Draft. However, it was quarterback Geno Smith that was receiving most of the hype.

Many believed Smith had a legitimate chance of even being the No. 1 overall pick to the Kansas City Chiefs. Mountaineer fans expected Smith to be picked early, Austin to follow shortly after and wide receiver Stedman Bailey to be selected somewhere in the middle rounds of the draft.

Throughout the offseason, it quickly began to seem as though Austin was stealing Smith’s thunder, doing nothing but raise his draft stock since the season ended.

Sure enough, come draft day, Austin heard his name called much earlier than many expected. He was picked well before Smith, who went undrafted through the first round.

Tavon Austin became the highest drafted WVU player since 2005 when Adam “Pacman” Jones went No. 6 overall to the Tennessee Titans. He is the highest-drafted offensive Mountaineer since tackle Brian Jozwiak went No. 7 to the Chiefs in 1986.

Just to add to the pressure Austin will be facing, the last time the Rams drafted a wide receiver in the first round was in 1999, when they drafted Tory Holt.

Those are some big shoes to fill. I think Austin will have a long, fruitful NFL career. I’ve never seen anyone move the way Austin can in space. He made defenders look stupid all year long at WVU.

He will not be easy to bring down at the next level either.

Mike is a Big 12 Football writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MikeAtkinsonRS, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.