Wide receiver has some true playmakers at the top of this year’s draft class, but analysts are split on just how deep the pool is at wideout. For a team like the St. Louis Rams that has two first round picks, this isn’t really a huge concern. What it could do, however, is force other teams around them in the draft order to trade up in pursuit of one of these elite pass catchers. If the Rams are really serious about improving on offense in Jeff Fisher’s second year at the helm, here is a player that could do the trick.
Tavon Austin, Wide Receiver
Versatility is clearly the buzzword with this kid. Austin lined up at receiver and in the backfield for the Mountaineers during his senior season. The most common comparison is Percy Harvin now of the Seattle Seahawks as he is small in stature with an incredible burst and ridiculous lateral agility. Opposing defenses will have sleepless nights thinking about how to stop this kid at the next level. On top of his obvious physical prowess, Austin also has elite vision to sense tacklers and anticipate their next move. He is a huge threat after the catch and will have a major impact in the NFL.
Obviously this list starts with the size factor. A player of this build doesn’t generally hold up well against the behemoths in the NFL, but guys like Harvin and Darren Sproles have proven this to be a misconception in recent years. Because of his size (or lack thereof), Austin won’t really be a red zone threat. He will be dynamic in the open field, but when things get condensed, his value is diminished. His ability to catch the ball with his hands is in question as he likes to use his body far too often. Also a lack of complex routes at the college level may hinder his immediate development.
WHY DOES HE FIT?
Considering the fact that the team has Austin scheduled for a visit and only one team ahead of the them in the draft order (Cleveland Browns) can make the same claim, it seems like Austin is actually a plausible fit with the team. Clearly he fits because of Danny Amendola’s departure earlier in the offseason via free agency to the New England Patriots. Quarterback Sam Bradford loved Amendola’s ability to get open on short routes and turn a seemingly short yardage pick up into a big gain. Austin would bring that element back to the Rams’ offense and give their offense yet another young weapon to work with.
While Brian Quick and Chris Givens will just be entering their second seasons, adding Austin into the mix would give the team quite a trio of weapons. Add in the free agent signing of tight end Jared Cook and this offense gets quite respectable in a hurry.