FRISCO, Texas –He isn't technically part of this draft class, but Tavon Austin grabbed a good bit of the spotlight on draft weekend this year.
The Cowboys made an unexpected trade to acquire Austin on Day 3 of this year's draft, sending a sixth-round pick to the Los Angeles Rams to secure his services. Originally a top 10 draft pick by the Rams, Austin struggled at times to live up to that status – but he has proven himself a dynamic return man and a dangerous ball carrier over the course of a five-year career. That helps explain why, mere hours after acquiring Austin, the Cowboys shipped Ryan Switzer to Oakland in exchange for defensive line help in Jihad Ward.
Cowboys officials have stated their intention to use Austin as more than just a receiver. He has valuable return abilities, as has been noted, and the Cowboys are confident they can use him as both a receiver and runner – similar to the roles Lance Dunbar and Lucky Whitehead filled for this team in prior years.
With that in mind, Bryan Broaddus sat down to grade the tape on Austin's time with the Rams, to get a better idea of how the Cowboys might use their newest weapon.
Name: Tavon Austin
Draft:1st round in 2013, selected 8th overall by the St. Louis Rams
- As you might expect, given his draft status, this is a player with tremendous quickness and balance. Shifty with the footwork.
- Shows the ability to make something out of nothing. Can run himself out of trouble. Will keep bouncing until he finds a spot.
- Much like a running back, Austin has the vision to see the lanes and make the cuts.
- Only needs a little bit of space to make something happen. Explosive with the ball in his hands.
- He does very little down the field as a receiver. Jet sweeps from the slot, one back sweeps and screens.
- As the Cowboys front office has said, Austin is used often as a running back. He is not afraid to run between the tackles, but his best success is when he can take the ball wide.
- He runs with some strength near the goal line, but he is not going to break many tackles.
- Austin sees the sticks and accelerate to get the first down. Had three or four designed plays where the Rams used him to gain a first.
- Can run through angles. He is a problem to deal with in space. You can see the defender panic when faced with a one-on-one opportunity.
- Can adjust to the ball in the flat on the swings and screens.
- Lines up as the primary punt returner. He's steady in the way he caught the ball. Did not see him on kickoff return.