Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 3/14/13
One of the most dynamic players in the 2013 NFL Draft is Tavon Austin. His combination of speed, quickness and elusiveness makes him one of the most talked about wide receivers in this draft class.Many teams will look at him and see if he can be the play-maker they need on their team.While there are many strengths in Austin's games such as quick cuts and his ability to compile yards after the catch, there are some weaknesses as well.Tavon Austin: The VitalsHeight: 5'8"Weight: 174Position: Wide ReceiverSchool: West VirginiaClass: Senior40-yard dash: 4.34Bench reps: 14Vertical: 32"StrengthsTavon Austin is a wide receiver with numerous strengths but nothing stands out more than his blazing speed. His 4.34 40-yard dash proves that along with the fact he easily outruns defenders trying to tackle him down the field.His speed also helps him in his route running. Since he is so quick, defenders need to play back 10 yards from the line of scrimmage so Austin doesn't beat them deep.While running routes, he can vary speed which can deceive the cornerback allowing Austin to create separation very easily.Austin deploys many different moves that defenders have the hardest time stopping. He stutter-steps in order to read where the defense is going. He can accelerate back to full speed relatively quickly and can make big plays out of nothing.In addition, Austin starts and stops many times trying to find the open gap before hitting the hole fast and leaving the defense behind.In the open field, Austin is one of the most elusive players in all of college football. He makes very quick and hard cuts which makes defenders miss regularly in the open field. Even defenders who are in perfect position to make a tackle on him miss because he's very agile.Austin is one of a few wide receivers in this class that is very versatile in his positions and use. Austin was lined up at running back numerous times last season and averaged 14.5 carries a game.It gives him another dimension to his game and he his quick cuts and speed allow him to hit holes quickly and be a home-run threat on every play.In addition, Austin can line up as a slot wide receiver or even on the outside as well. He will exclusively need to line up in the slot or release while in motion in order to avoid the press in the NFL.Additionally, Austin is very intelligent on the football field and will notice the coverage around him and work into an open spot on the field where the quarterback can find him easily. He also does a very good job setting up his blocks down the field that allow him to extend the play.WeaknessesThere are a few weaknesses with Austin but nothing more so than his small size and figure. Most small players have more muscle on their frame than Austin. That could be an issue as teams may lower him on their draft boards because they aren't sure whether he can hold up long-term in the NFL.Also, due to his size, Austin struggles against press coverage. Although he didn't see it much in college due to his speed, faster and stronger corners in the NFL could re-route him very easily. Another issue for Austin is his catching. He's a chest-catcher and not a pass-catcher. Instead of grabbing the ball out of the air and preventing the defense from making a play on the ball, Austin allows the ball into his chest before securing it. While at West Virginia Austin was thrown to when he was open across the middle of the field which can negate this problem but its something to keep an eye on.Austin had decent skills blocking and puts forth a good effort to help in the run game but could use extra strength to see improvement. He won't make much of a difference in the next level.Due to his size, Austin is not a very good player after contact. He tends to go down quickly although he does fall forward for extra yards, especially when running the ball.Potential Landing SpotsThe Rams could select Austin as early as No. 16 in the first round, but if they choose to address another need with that pick, they could select him at No. 22. The Rams lost Danny Amendola to the Patriots and it's looking likely that Brandon Gibson will leave as well.Sam Bradford needs as many options as possible in order to succeed in the tough NFC West against the tough defenses of the Seahawks and 49ers. If the Rams land a No. 1 wide receiver and Tavon Austin, that will give Bradford weapons he needs to take his game to the next level.The next team that could select Austin would be the Vikings at No. 23 or No. 25. Christian Ponder struggled much of last year, especially after Percy Harvin was lost for the season with injury.While they will most likely address the need of acquiring a No. 1 wide receiver first, drafting Austin would give them the weapon they had in Percy Harvin, without all the drama. The Vikings are in the same position as the Rams. Both teams have good defenses but they have young quarterbacks that need as many weapons as possible. Adrian Peterson cannot continue to carry the load. He needs his quarterback to help make life easier on him. Acquiring at least two solid wide receivers will make the Vikings improve overall and make life easier on Peterson.The Texans are another team that could use the services of Tavon Austin. Currently they only have Andre Johnson as a solid contributor at wide receiver. After releasing Kevin Walter today, they need to find another slot receiver.Austin is the best slot receiver in the Draft and can help make the Texans more dynamic on offense. With the the Patriots and Broncos competing against them in the AFC, the Texans need more options on offense to compete and make their offense more difficult to defend.Draft ProjectionMid-to late-1st round: Tavon Austin is one of the most dynamic receivers in this class. The fact that many teams in the early to mid rounds don't need a slot wide receivers, hurts his stock. Also, his size doesn't help  either. One team will draft Austin and land a very solid player that can help them for years to come, but it won't be until the middle or end of the first round.NFL ComparisonTavon Austin reminds teams of Percy Harvin. Austin had a career very similar to Harvin, expect Harvin had an additional 40 pounds on Austin. Both players were used in a variety of formations and positions while in college.At Florida, Harvin was used as a running back, slot receiver, kick return and in the wildcat formation. Austin was used the same way at West Virginia.Both players were very elusive in college and possess top-end speed. In the open field, Harvin and Austin possess great vision which allows them to break big plays down the field.Teams were concerned with Harvin first coming out of college due to his size and he succeeded in the NFL. While Austin is much lighter than Harvin, he should have a long career in the NFL as well.
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