"What would really seal the deal for Buddy is a seven," Bills cap guy Jim Overdorf told Demoff less than an hour before the draft. Demoff knew that if adding a seventh-rounder to the package was what it would take to finish the move, the 222nd pick wouldn't stand in the way. Snead and Fisher okayed it. The trade wasn't a lock yet—nothing is until both sides verbally inform the league of trade details. Now the Rams had to just sit and wait.
Snead, 42, paid his scouting dues under Falcons G.M. Thomas Dimitroff (a.k.a. Trader Thomas) in Atlanta. He's been a good match with the 55-year-old Fisher, who historically has been willing to take chances on talented players with troubled backgrounds or hotheaded streaks. Some have busted (Albert Haynesworth, eventually; Pacman Jones); some have paid off (Cortland Finnegan). Snead's draft attitude has been to not let the board come to him but to go get the players he wanted, using as much draft capital as needed. When he interviewed for the Rams' G.M. job 15 months ago, he told Demoff, "I will never be scared to make a move," and when the two drove to work together on the morning of the draft, he told Demoff, "Don't be scared today." That bravado would soon be tested.
7:55 p.m. Rams Draft Center
Thirty people in the 18-by-35-foot room—coaches, scouts, execs—waiting. The Browns, at No. 6, could have been a trade partner if their target, LSU defensive end Barkevious Mingo, wasn't still available. But Mingo was there, and Cleveland pounced. Snead grabbed a land line and rang Buffalo to see if the deal was still on now that they'd agreed to add a seventh-rounder. It was, as long as Arizona, at No. 7, didn't pull the upset of the draft and steal Austin.
Bill Consoli, the Rams' director of information systems, sat in the back of the room, connected by a headset with New York. "The Arizona Cardinals select ... Jonathan Cooper ... guard ... North Carolina."
The room erupted in high fives and hugs, Fisher jumping up and pumping a fist. In back, the biggest smiles creased the faces of special teams coach John Fassel and receivers coach Ray Sherman. Demoff got NFL director of player personnel Joel Bussert on the phone to confirm the trade. "Joel, Kevin Demoff with the Rams.... Good, good.... The Rams send 16, 46, 78 and 222 to Buffalo for eight and 71. Got it? Have they called? Are we confirmed? ... Good. Bye."
Austin was a Ram. Limping from hip replacement surgery, Sherman called out, "He's gonna get coached up, baby!" Someone shouted to offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, "You got your home run hitter, Schotty!"
Two large wall-mounted TVs tuned in to ESPN and the NFL Network began unspooling Austin's college highlights, and the room in St. Louis exploded: WoooopWooop!!! WoooooohHahahahaLookatthat! Assistant head coach Dave McGinnis sounded like a fan hollering from the cheap seats: "Do it, Tavon! Do it!" He clapped Sherman on the shoulder.
"Perfect," McGinnis said. "That's the perfect player for us."