Photo of Tavon Austin
Drafted By: Rams
  • Round 1
  • Pick 8
  • Overall 8

Combine Results

Grade
91.4 ?
  • 4.34 SEC
    Top Performer
  • 14 REPS
    Top Performer
  • 32.0 INCH
    Top Performer
  • 120.0 INCH
    Top Performer
  • 4.01 SEC
    Top Performer
Blue Star  =  Combine Top Performer

Draft Analysis:

"Now Sam Bradford has a weapon on the edge, and most importantly in the return game. This is the most explosive player in the draft." -- Mike Mayock

  • 5'8" Height
  • 30" Arm Length
  • 174LBS. Weight
  • 9 1/8" Hands

Overview

The Mountaineers have had a dangerous spread offense since Rich Rodriguez led the team, but have moved from a run-based system (ranked third in the FBS in rushing in 2007) to a pass-based spread (ranked sixth nationally in passing in 2011, 10th in 2012). A huge part of the offensive success the Mountaineers have enjoyed over the last two seasons is due to the talent of Austin. A small but quick and elusive playmaker, Austin's role and impact grew seemingly by the week during his senior season, as he went from a slot man and returner to a fully fledged Swiss Army knife, including lining up in the backfield and taking handoffs.


The two-time Maryland high school player of the year set all kinds of state career and single-season records, a large share of which (34 touchdowns, 2,660 rushing yards -- that's 12.2 yards a carry) as a senior. WVU coaches couldn't wait to get him on the field, playing him in all 13 games and starting him in four. He caught 15 passes for 151 yards and a touchdown while racking up 476 kick return yards (including taking the opening kickoff against Connecticut 98 yards for a score). Big East coaches named him second-team all-conference in 2010 as he became a larger part of the passing game (58-787, 8 TD) and rushing attack (15-159, TD), but kicked him up to first team as a receiver (101-1,186, 8 TD) and returner (36 attempts for 938 yards, two TD on kickoffs; 19-268 on punts, ranked sixth in the FBS with a 14.1 yard average) after an excellent junior season. He led the FBS in all-purpose yards once his 182 rushing yards (one TD) were added in, and finished 2011 with 390 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns in the team's 70-33 blowout win over Clemson in the Orange Bowl.


Austin burst into Heisman contention during his senior season with a 572 all-purpose yards (second most in FBS history) performance against Oklahoma on national television. Austin's full repertoire was on display, as he caught 4 passes for 82 yards, rushed 21 times for 344 yards and two touchdowns, and added 146 kick return yards. His dominating play saw him finish eighth in Heisman voting, win the Paul Hornung Award (most versatile player), and garner a first-team All-America as an All-Purpose player.

Analysis

Strengths

Slot receiver possessing elite acceleration with the ball, takes advantage of available lanes to explode for big gains. Shows excellent vision both as a runner out of the backfield, as a returner, and as a receiver. Not a frail receiver; plays tough, has some upper-body thickness, and bounces up quickly from hits. Varies the speed of his route, lulls defenders to sleep and takes off to create space on out routes or over the middle. Tough to grab after the catch in zone coverage. Flashes the hands to adjust to wide or high passes, as well as tracking balls over his shoulder. Also goes down to grab low throws. Displays excellent balance to tightrope the sideline. Often used on fly sweeps, using his elite quickness and acceleration to cut inside or get the corner for big plays. Can make the first man miss on punt returns and has the vision to slalom between players to the sideline or up the middle. Very difficult to track down from behind. Wins at every level of the field despite his size, and has been somewhat underutilized deep. Improved as a blocker, and will body up on bigger players.

Weaknesses

Limited to the slot on most plays; lacks the size and strength most scouts prefer outside, or even as a kick returner. Hands are good, but not exceptional; will let some hot passes through his small hands and into his chest. Gets a lot of his yardage on shallow crosses, quick throws outside, and the fly sweep/"touch pass." Might not have the chance to get the sideline as often at the next level, forcing him to lower the shoulder and get what's available to him inside. Must prove he can hang onto the ball after taking big hits from NFL defenders. Will hesitate on punt and kick returns at times instead of immediately accelerating or trusting his blocking, and can get tripped up easily on contact. Incredible balance and stop/start ability.

NFL Comparison

Randall Cobb

Bottom Line

Don't blink when Austin has the ball, as his elite acceleration helped him finish second in the country in all-purpose yards as a senior and lead the FBS as a junior. Has the sills to be a huge playmaker on offense and special teams in the NFL despite the slight build that scared scouts away from other WVU offensive stars in the past.
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Grade Title Draft (Round) Description
96-100 Future Hall of Famer Top Pick A once-in-a-generation type prospect who could change how his position is played
85-95 Immediate Starter 1st An impact player with the ability/intangibles to become a Pro Bowl player. Expect to start immediately except in a unique situation (i.e. behind a veteran starter).
70-84 Eventual Starter 2nd-3rd A quality player who will contribute to the team early on and is expected to develop into a starter. A reliable player who brings value to the position.
50-69 Draftable Player 4th-7th A prospect with the ability to make team as a backup/role player. Needs to be a special teams contributor at applicable positions. Players in the high range of this category might have long-term potential.
20-49 Free Agent UDFA A player with solid measurables, intangibles, college achievements, or a developing skill that warrants an opportunity in an NFL camp. In the right situation, he could earn a place on a 53-man roster, but most likely will be a practice squad player or a camp body.

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