“With the number eight pick in the 2013 NFL draft the St. Louis Rams select Tavon Austin.”  For Rams fans, you can still hear these words echoing in your mind every time you see Austin on the field.  A talented wide receiver from West Virginia that was supposed to be the game changer the Rams have needed for years.

Four years/42 million dollars:

If you haven’t paid much attention to the Rams over the past few years those kind of contract numbers would suggest Austin is the type of player that the Rams hoped he would be when they drafted him.

Enter week six: Through five full weeks the Rams have had Austin on the field for only 62 offensive snaps, accounting for 19 percent of playing time this season. So, what gives? If you are the Rams front office you must look yourself in the mirror and realize you paid top dollar for nothing more than a gadget wide receiver.  So far, this season Austin has five receptions for 19 yards.

So here comes the real fun.  Yes, Austin is not putting up huge numbers as a wide receiver, but he does have impact on the game.  He has 20 rushing attempts for 108 yards, with one of those attempts resulting in a 27-yard touchdown last Sunday against the Seahawks.

Let’s go more in-depth, is Austin a wide receiver or a running back?  Numbers would suggest he is doing a bit of both.  But, lets dig a little deeper. After breaking down the film, the Rams send Austin into motion faking jet sweeps and wide receiver reverses just to keep the defense honest. What is being accomplished? The defense knows Austin is a threat every he touches the ball, so by using these Austin motions it allows other players on the field the space they need to succeed. Players, such as Todd Gurley, having career resurgences is the benefit of Austin’s new role in the offense.

While Tavon Austin may not put up huge numbers this season, keep in mind he is influencing the game. When you are watching the game, this Sunday don’t think of Austin as an overpaid player but rather think of him as the 42-million-dollar decoy.  The Rams offense has 42 million reasons to be thankful he is on the field.

(Tweet in this article courtesy of the Rams official twitter)

Brian Joanou is a staff writer for cover32.com/Rams and covers the Los Angeles Rams. Like and follow on

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