The wide receiver position may not seem like a conventional draft need for the Dallas Cowboys in 2013. We've put a lot of focus on the defensive side of the football and the offensive line, but there hasn't been a lot of coverage on the wide receivers on the 2013 NFL Draft. As the draft is right around the corner, every player should be put into consideration for the 18th overall selection.
Here is my take on the most explosive player in the 2013 NFL Draft, West Virgina wide receiver Tavon Austin.
When evaluating Austin, the first thing that stands out about him is his speed. Austin ran a blazing 4.34 40 yard dash at the NFL Combine and he also displays that speed and quickness on the football field. While he is really fast in a straight line, Austin also has the ability to accelerate and turn the jets on from anywhere on the football field. With the NFL game moving towards a up-tempo pace, Austin has the speed and quickness to become a unique weapon on the next level.
Austin has the speed to become a matchup problem for any cornerback, safety or linebacker. The speed puts him into a category of his own, but his versatility is also another quality that will make him valuable in the NFL. The only other player coming out of the draft in the past few years that I've seen similar to Percy Harvin was Randall Cobb, but Austin has the same type of ability to lineup in the backfield, in the slot or out wide.
Then there is the added ability of being a factor on special teams. Austin was one of the most dangerous kick and punt returners in college football. He can be a dual-threat and multidimensional threat on offense and special teams. Austin will give the team that drafts him a lot of production in a variety of ways and that type of production is very unique.
Speed and quickness are one thing, but Austin also possesses excellent vision. He's a smart football player who knows the game and can use his vision to make cutbacks and avoid hits. Austin is one of the most dangerous players I have ever seen in Barry Sanders.field. His ability to make people miss and accelerate past them is just incredible to watch and is somewhat reminiscent of
Austin is an extremely good route runner that runs crisp and precise routes. He's smooth and quick in-and-out of his breaks. One of the most impressive aspects of his game is that he can vary and alter the speed of his routes. When a receiver can do that, he can set the defensive back up and trick him throughout the game. Austin is going to be a nightmare for cornerbacks and safeties who lack recovery speed because if he gets a step on them then he is gone.
Even though Austin is a smaller wide receiver (5'9", 174), he's actually strong for his size and has improved his blocking during his career at West Virginia. Because of his size, his durability and longevity have been put into question, but Austin is a durable player that never missed a game in his college career. Todd McShay also reported that Austin never missed a practice at West Virginia. That also shows that he has a passion for the game and is willing to work hard.
Overall Austin is my favorite player in the entire draft class. I've followed him closely over the years and instantly I became a fan of his game. If we have to point out some negatives, then let's start with his size. There aren't many players who have had successful NFL careers with Austin's size and weight. Receivers under 6'0" typically are limited to the slot and won't be able to produce on the outside. Austin doesn't have the best ball skills to go up and track the football and will probably never be as dangerous on the outside as he will be in the slot.
While Austin does have decent hands, they aren't the best and from time to time he can drop passes that he shouldn't. Sometimes he also allows the ball to come into his body instead of catching it with his hands. His hands aren't that much of a weakness, but it's something that should be listed in the negative column.
The only way to stop him is with press coverage and a safety over the top. Large cornerbacks who are physical and bump him at the line are going to throw off his timing and disrupt him. This is the area Austin needs to work on the most. Even though Austin has the quickness to beat press, if he doesn't get around the defender early in the route he can get jammed at the line. He's going to be a nightmare for defensive coordinators, but if he doesn't learn how to beat physical press coverage then Austin could be limited in what he can do in the NFL.
It's doubtful that a player like Austin will last until the 18th overall pick. There are plenty of teams picking ahead of the Cowboys who really need a playmaker on offense. In my opinion, the New York Jets and St. Louis Rams look like the best bets to draft this dynamic talent.
If he did fall to us at 18, then Dallas would have the opportunity to add even more firepower to their offense and also add another weapon to their special teams unit. The Cowboys don't have a player who can stretch the field deep and open up routes for Dez Bryant, Miles Austin and Jason Witten. Even though the Cowboys typically don't put small receivers like Austin high on their priority list, they can't deny the wrinkles he would bring to their offense.
Grade: High first-round grade (8th overall)
NFL Comparison: Percy Harvin