Tavon Austin Scouting Report

Courtesy www.sfexaminer.com

Courtesy www.sfexaminer.com

By PFC Draft Writer David Willemssen (@DavidWillemssen)

Tavon Austin was highly recruited by WVU as he was a two time player of the year in his home state of Maryland. Austin would see playing time in 13 games as a freshmen and was noticed by the Big East coaches in 2010 by being named to the 2nd team all conference as a return man. His junior year the ball would come his way often. Having 114 receptions for 1186 yards and 8 tds. His final year at WVU he’d see the ball and more yards than ever before 112 receptions 1289 yards 12 tds, 72 rushes for an outstanding 643 yards and 3 tds, as well as 978 return yards and 2 tds. Tavon shows to be a very special player who needs the ball in his hands as much as possible.

Strengths:

If big play making ability was an attribute on Madden, Austin would easily be a 99. At any point Austin can take the ball to the house if he has space to play with. If space is not given he can quickly make it happen if he has the ball or not. With the ball he can stop on a dime or jump laterally quickly and hit the outside. Without the ball he uses a cut to create separation from the defender with ease. With and without the ball Tavon has great vision to find space between the defenders.

Weaknesses:

With his size there are areas where Austin will never be able to over come. Austin needs separation to be able to make the catch, he is not going to be coming up with receptions while draped by the defender. That said he does get separation easily. He did not receive many chances to demonstrate body control going up for the ball due to running shorter, give him the ball fast, routes and Geno Smith’s accuracy.

Tools and Build:

What Tavon lacks in size 5’8 174 lbs he makes up for in speed. 4.34 40 and a 4.01 20 yard shuttle. For 5’8 Tavon has long arms at 30″ and large hands at 9 1/8″. He also has a great deal of strength benching 14 reps at the combine.

Release:

One of the biggest problems receivers have going from college to the pros is beating the press. Tavon did not face much press coverage, because he was usually moving around presnap. Austin would use his quick burst to beat the press. He has the quickness to set defenders up to fail while trying to get a hand on him.

Routes:

Route running is where Austin made his plays possible. If he was unable to get space between the defender he would not be the player he is due to the inability to make contested catches. His NFL future will be determined on beating faster corners by his route running. At WVU he ran a lot of routes that get him the ball quickly. He is very good at setting up defenders with fakes and quick cutting. On his deeper routes like posts he needs to make them more crisp and develop the ability to step off defenders with planting. The word from his pro day is that he did show precision in his deep routes.

Another aspect that Tavon was very good at was his ability to find holes in zones and sit in them. Tavon’s experience in playing football had him always coming back to his QB to bail him out. He also was always aware of the sticks if it was 1st down or 3rd down. He is a chain mover. He also does very good at getting depth behind linebackers.

Hands and Control:

There were very few balls that were dropped or even double caught during his career as a Mountaineer. He is a sure handed receiver who always comes down with the ball. There are times where he lets the ball gets into his body. Body control was not demonstrated often and while in the air it is hard to see Tavon being able to adjust quickly. Also did not have to reach out after a lot of balls. Body control will have to develop as well.

Run after the Catch:

While route running is where Tavon made the play possible, his ability to take it to the house or to the chains is where he makes the play. Tavon has an unbelievable ability to stop on a dime and change direction. The best way to tackle Austin is to not hesitate for a second and take proper angles. That said few people did not hesitate when coming close to Austin because he is amazing at going either way. His vision in traffic is why he was able to run for 600 plus yards and almost have 1000 return yards. He can find holes between defenses and squeeze through small holes.

Just like in route running Tavon needs space to work in and is good at making that happen. However, when he is touched with a proper technique, or even a straight on tackle,  he is not going to break anything off. There were times where he would only be tackled by one arm and his body just flies to the ground.

Blocking:

Another area where Austin was not asked to perform much, mainly because he always had the ball. It was not showcased often, but knowing the heart and football mentality he has he would never shy away from engaging and making a big block.

Scheme and Draft Projection:

Tavon Austin is a special type of player who is going to succeed on his ability to stop on a dime, or fail on his inability to make contested catches. It is up to him to make it so he does not have to make those kind of catches.  Tavon Austin could be the next special slot player and will be a 1st round pick. Many have pegged him to the Jets at #9 and will not make it to the 20’s. Tavon’s game reminds me a lot of Dexter McCluster who went in the second round. Oddly enough McCluster was a mainly a running back in college and a receiver in the pros. Austin is a better route runner than McCluster, but both are shifty jig route guys that need separation to make plays.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xdxtZn9Z-Jc