Today's 2013 NFL Draft prospect profile for the New York Giants will look at one of the last few players I haven't profiled that look like first-round players. Today we look at West Virginia wide receiver Tavon Austin, although he plays a position I'd be shocked to see the Giants address in the first round. General manager Jerry Reese has said countless times that the Giants draft their best available player, and with people coming out and saying things like "Austin is the most explosive offensive weapon in the class" or now mocking Austin all the way up to sixth overall to the Cleveland Browns I decided that I can't rule out the possibility the Giants will use a pick on a wide receiver in the first round. The other thing to note is that since 2007 Reese has selected a wide receiver in the first three rounds every year but 2010, and he selected three pass catchers in the first three rounds in 2009 (Hakeem Nicks, Ramses Barden, Travis Beckum).
Austin is an absolutely dynamic player who is lighting quick and fast (4.34 40-yard dash). Austin has the fluid movement skills to develop into a terrific route runner. He's versatile and can be a weapon on punts, kickoffs, out of the backfield, and as a wide receiver. He catches the ball very well and isn't going to be caught from behind. Austin is a tough player, he's a football player not just a track guy.
He lacks the size that is generally preferred in an outside wide receiver. He is a willing blocker, but not a good one. Austin has very little experience running NFL routes -- he did a lot of quick, get the ball in his hands and make a play stuff at West Virginia.
My player comparisons: Darren Sproles, and DeSean Jackson
I don't understand either the Cobb or Harvin player comparisons, perhaps those are guys that he plays like, but both of those guys are well built nearly 200 pounds specimens. Both are nearly 6-feet tall and strong. That's not what Austin is.
I'm using two player comparisons because I think Austin could play two different positions. As a running back he could be like Sproles -- a guy who is primarily used to come out of the backfield and make plays, to be a dynamic mismatch when he steps onto the field. As a wide receiver he could be a guy who plays outside like Jackson, but only if you use him right. You don't want him working the middle of the field a lot (like Harvin and Cobb both do) because he is 174 pounds soaking weight. Both Jackson and Sproles are dynamic return men, that's the type of player Austin is.
Does He Fit With The Giants?
He's an offensive weapon who could be used in any system if he's used right. I think most Giants fans would say that offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride wouldn't know what to do with a weapon like Austin, which I think is slightly unfair, but no he's not the typical Giants wide receiver.
Big Board Rankings
Big Blue View Board-21st
I don't think the Giants are taking a wide receiver in the first round, but one thing I've learned covering the draft is that you can never rule anything out. I think if the Giants were going to take a wide receiver they would be more inclined to take Corrdarrelle Patterson, who is a big, physical wide receiver in the mold of Julio Jones. But who knows? The Giants have shown that they don't have a particular prototype when it comes to wide receivers. Barden, Nicks, Steve Smith, Jerel Jernigan and Rueben Randle are all very different in terms of abilities. When you look at the defensive ends you see long and explosive, most of the cornerbacks they've drafted are 6-feet tall and run in the 4.4 range, but wide receiver they are all over the board.
If the Giants do take Austin at 19 with wide receiver not being a huge need you can be sure of one thing -- they would obviously think he is special and would definitely be the highest rated player on their board by far ... if he's even available when the Giants pick.
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