(Editor’s Note: Heading into the upcoming NFL Draft, held April 25-27, DallasCowboys.com will take a closer look at the prospects, including some that could be potential fits with the Cowboys. Today’s featured player is West Virginia wide receiver Tavon Austin.)
Name: Tavon Austin
Position: Wide Receiver
College: West Virginia
Age: 22 (born March 15, 1991)
Honors: Austin earned first-team All-America distinction as an all-around player and was named first-team All-Big XII at wide receiver, along with teammate Stedman Bailey. Austin was also tabbed the Co-Big XII Special Teams Player of the Year in 2012. In 2011, he was a first-team All-Big East selection and the Big East Special Teams Player of the Year.
Key Stat: The undersized Mountaineer playmaker was lightning in a bottle throughout his college career, as he averaged 12 yards per reception across four seasons. Austin also averaged 10 yards per rush from the West Virginia backfield, and nearly 13 yards per return as the Mountaineers’ punt returner. His Combine numbers are what hinted he might carry that ability into the NFL. He ran a blistering 4.34, the second-best time among wide receivers.
Where He’s Headed: Austin’s small stature looks to be a basic non-factor thanks to his impressive numbers at the Combine. This blazer has been seen as a first rounder for a month or more now, and his prospects seem to be improving. He should be one of the first two receivers off the board, and he may not be an option when the Cowboys pick.
How He Helps the Cowboys: The obvious, easy comparison here is Percy Harvin. Austin isn’t as big as the new Seahawks receiver, but he brings next-level speed as well as the versatility to catch passes, take handoffs and field punts. Now, it’s fair to say the Cowboys aren’t in dire need of any of those things, but it would be fun to see what such a gifted athlete could do in an already potent offense.
Scout’s Take: Plays out of the slot. … Will lay out for the ball and is not afraid to throw his body around. … Has explosive quickness off the ball. … Is the type of receiver is that is on you now coming off the line. … Will catch in traffic. … Can turn simple passes into huge gains. … Built like a running back. … Tries to split the cornerback and safety with the ball in his hands. … Coaches like to throw him the ball to convert fourth downs, and he had two against Texas. … Catches the ball all over the field and will catch screens. … Used in the running game on the fly sweep. … Will leap to catch the ball despite his height. … Good concentration. Got held in the route and still was able to make the catch. … Is an aware player, knows his responsibilities and carries out his assignment. … Is dynamic is so many ways, and is a better player than a guy like Ted Ginn because you see him do more things for the offense, but also with the ball in his hands. Ginn was a straight-line speed guy, while Austin has moves. … Could be a wild card in the mix if the Cowboys want to trade back if he is on the board. … Teams covet these types of explosive players. Would be surprised if he made it to the 18th spot, but it would be a best player on the board situation for the Cowboys if he was there. – Bryan Broaddus