Prospect: Tavon Austin, WR, West VirginiaTavon Austin

Height: 5’8½”

Weight: 174 lb.

Athleticism:

  • Extremely undersized in both height and weight categories
  • Plays with incredibly sudden and light feet
  • Open field speed doesn’t quite match up to his lateral quickness and agility, but is enough to be effective in space
  • Lean frame and lack of strength a hindrance in my aspects of his game

Route Running:

  • Used exclusively in the slot as a receiver with a very limited route tree
  • Struggles to fight through contact from man coverage corners and linebackers
  • Acceleration off the snap and out of breaks mostly non-evident, limits ability to separate from defenders in man coverage
  • Shows savvy to feel space and find gaps for his quarterback against zone coverage

Hands:

  • Consistent hands-catcher who doesn’t let the ball into his body
  • Small radius with short arms, ball placement needy
  • Has had troubles with occasional ball security issues, including muffed punts, fumbles, and drops

Running/Return Ability:

  • Run after catch specialist as a wide receiver with running skills that warranted high number of snaps in the backfield
  • Lateral quickness and overall ability to elude defenders are a head above all other WR prospects
  • Has his head on a swivel with the ball in his hands, aids vision
  • Instinctive runner who stays behind his blockers and will set up defenders for blockers
  • Crafty to avoid taking big hits and to fall forward at the end of runs
  • Inconsistent effectiveness as a kick returner with a style that doesn’t translate well, not a quick-hitter of seams and can be indecisive

Leadership/Intangibles:

  • Versatile offensive player in college who adjusted on the fly to numerous roles
  • Adds to offensive versatility with experience and production as a kick and punt returner
  • Adequate effort as a blocker but will grab and hold to make up for lack of power
  • Communicates well with his blockers as a punt returner

Overall:

Tavon Austin was one of the most productive college football players as a senior for the Mountaineers.  He accounted for 1289 receiving yards, 643 rushing yards, and 15 total touchdowns.  His ability to make defenders miss in space has made many a defense look silly.  After West Virginia’s season took a turn for the worse, they started to rely on giving Austin the ball out of the backfield.  The versatility he brings will put some of the league’s creative offensive coordinators and coaches on notice.  It’s important to really know who Austin is as an offensive weapon.  He’s not Percy Harvin simply because he’s not as fast or strong.  He’s not Wes Welker because he’s not a crafty route runner with the ability to punish man coverage.  He’s the perfect gadget player to bring on the field and create matchup problems for defenders in space.  As incredible as his athletic ability is with the ball in his hands, it simply doesn’t show up as a route runner.  For that reason, it’s tough to truly value Tavon Austin as a first round prospect.

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