By John Boyle
We knew it was likely going to be a quiet day for the Seahawks, who sent their first-round pick Minnesota in the Percy Harvin trade, and so far it has been.
Seattle’s NFC West opponents, however, are making moves today that could make what is already arguably the best division in football even better.
Arizona took North Carolina guard Jonathan Cooper with pick No. 7, and while that may seem a bit early to take a guard, it fits a definite need for a team that had a pretty awful offensive line last season.
Then things started really getting interesting with NFC West teams. St. Louis traded up from No. 16 to No. 8 to take dynamic West Virginia receiver Tavon Austin. Austin could be the type of explosive weapon that helps Sam Bradford and the Rams offense catch up to what was a pretty tough defense in 2012.
Two Seahawks related thoughts on that trade and pick. For one, it makes the Antoine Winfield signing even more important for Seattle, which will now face Austin twice a year. As good as Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman are, Austin is the type of player who will line up in the slot frequently and whose speed and elusiveness could pose a problem for a bigger defensive back like Browner. And secondly, the fact that Austin, a player a lot of people compare to Percy Harvin, went No. 8, shows exactly what the Seahawks were willing to trade a first-round pick, a third in 2014 and a seventh this year. The Seahawks knew if they wanted a player like Austin, they’d be giving up similar compensation anyway to move up, so why not go for the proven player (though Seattle of course does have to pay Harvin a heck of a lot more than St. Louis is paying Austin)? To get that eighth pick, the Rams sent to Buffalo pick No. 16, a second-rounder (46), swapped spots in the third (71 for 78) and a seventh (222).
And the Rams weren’t the only team in the division making moves. The 49ers, a team many expected to move up since they came into the draft with 13 picks, did just that, sending a third-round pick (74) to Cowboys in order to move up from 31st to 18th. San Francisco used that pick on LSU safety Eric Reid, who will likely step into the starting spot vacated when Pro Bowler Dashon Goldson left in free agency.
That wasn’t the end of the NFC West dealing. The Rams, looking to recoup some of what it gave up to move up, traded it’s second first-round pick (No. 22) to Atlanta. The Falcons used that pick on former Husky Desmond Trufant.