Tavon Austin WR Weset Virginia #1
Size/Athleticism: Vastly undersized. Has the speed to take the top off the defense, but lacks the height to be an ideal deep threat. Teams will need to get creative in the ways they get Austin the ball, because he’s the type of receiver that needs to be open in order to come down with the football. He lacks the height and physical style of play to battle for the ball in tight coverage. Once the ball is in his hands, he becomes a running back and is a threat to pick up chunks of yardage after the catch. Frequently lined up in the backfield at West Virginia and also used on end-arounds. A dangerous weapon in the return game.
Separation Skills: Elite speed. Safeties always have to be aware of him on the field because he can get a step an just about any cornerback in man coverage. Very limited in the amount of routes he has been asked to run. Vast majority of his receptions came on quick slants and drag routes. He caught very few balls further than five yards past the line of scrimmage.
Ball Skills: Inconsistent hands. Seems to struggle hauling in fastballs (see 2011 LSU game in which ball goes through hands and bounces off helmet). Lacks the height and strength to battle for jump balls. If he’s not open, he’s not coming down with the ball. He will need to be used primarily in the slot for this reason.
Intangibles: Coaches say he developed into a leader late in his carer and became a mentor to young players on the team.
Durability: No known issues, but his lack if size definitely puts him at risk for injuries in the future.
Comments: Austin is an intriguing weapon but it’s important to not get carried away with projecting his impact at the next level. It’s easy to fall in love with his highlight-reel plays, but realistically he is only a return specialist and a slot receiver at the next level. He can definitely be a valuable weapon, but he isn’t someone to build around. What concerns me most about Austin are his hands. Slot receivers tend to drop a few more passes based simply on the difficulty to hauling in a pass with limited reaction time, compared to having time to adjust on throws further downfield and on the outside. So when a slot receiver such as Austin enters the league with questionable hands, it raises a red flag.