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Scout's Tales: Austin Davis

Posted Mar 20, 2015

Director of Player Personnel Taylor Morton on Scouting Austin Davis.

There are numerous ways NFL teams acquire players, and the Rams’ scouting staff is always hard at work trying to find the next guy who can help them win. In Scout’s Tales, we’ll visit with members of Les Snead’s personnel department and they’ll share stories of how the process brought certain current Rams to St. Louis.

Director of Player Personnel Taylor Morton on Scouting Austin Davis.

The quarterback position is probably one of the hardest, if not the hardest to scout, because in my opinion it’s the hardest position to play in professional sports. On top of that, you can’t just grade the physical traits. You can’t at any position, but quarterbacks, those guys have got to be poised. When the bullets start flying, you’ve got to have a guy that can come through in the clutch.

At all positions, you’ve got certain measurables that you’d like guys to fall into, but especially at the quarterback position, you’ve got to allow for some variance in those because the intangibles are so important. Austin Davis is the perfect example of that. Coming out of college, he didn’t have prototypical size and he didn’t have a prototypical arm.

I started following Austin when he was young. When he was a sophomore and I was an area scout with the Falcons, I’d go in there and watch tape and I saw a winner, especially in clutch situations. You could go back and chart him. When it was third down and they needed somebody to make a play, he would be the guy that would make the play for them. He performed in pressure situations and made clutch plays at critical times in games. If they needed a drive to win a game, he would take them down the field. That was what caught my eye with him.

I played at Southern Miss and I follow their program because of both my personal and professional interests. As a scout, when you visit a school where you have strong ties like I do there, it can be very beneficial. When you have people that you trust, and they tell you that the guy has great intangibles, then you feel better about believing the information that you get.

Southern Miss had a tackle, Lamar Holmes, who was drafted in the third round the year that Austin came out. When you went around trying to get information on Holmes, who was the better prospect, all anybody wanted to do was talk about Austin Davis. They’d tell you what a great kid Austin was, how smart he was, how he was a grinder. We tell our scouts that if your sources just keep on and on about what a great kid a guy is, usually those are the kinds of players that make it, especially in the late rounds and as free agents. You make sure you go spend some extra time on those guys.

To tell you what kind of athlete Austin is, the baseball team at Southern Miss went to the College World Series a few years back. The baseball coach said that it’s too bad that the best baseball player on campus was over on the football field. That said a lot because they were in the College World Series.

As soon as the draft is over each year, anybody that hasn’t been drafted is a free agent. At that time, these guys are disappointed because they didn’t get drafted, but that lasts all of about 30 seconds because all of the sudden their phone starts blowing up with just about every team in the league trying to scramble to sign them because it’s first come, first served. They’re trying to talk to their agent and make a decision on where they want to go. They go from being rejected because they weren’t drafted to all of the sudden nearly every team in the league wants to sign them. You really have to have a plan going in on who you want to target. You’ve got to start recruiting not only the player but also the agent.

Shortly after the draft, Les called me and told me to get Austin signed. I got on the phone. He was going to go to Buffalo and I talked him into signing with the Rams. It helped because I had a relationship with Austin and with his agent, Bus Cook.

Austin has always kind of been the comeback kid. He wasn’t offered any big-time scholarships out of high school so he went to Southern Miss on a baseball scholarship. He ended up walking on the football team. The old staff told him that he would never play there. Then Larry Fedora and his staff came in and gave him an opportunity. He earned a starting position and broke all kinds of records down there.

He went through the same thing at the NFL level as well. Despite all he accomplished in college, he doesn’t get drafted and he has to overcome that. He was a free agent and had to scratch and claw and earn that roster spot as a rookie in 2012. He came back in ’13 and got cut but we brought him back when Sam Bradford got hurt. He keeps fighting and now we are where we are today with him. He’s always overcome the odds when he’s been faced with it.