Is Tavon Austin Going Too Soon?
Everybody knows about Rams rookie WR Tavon Austin. When you weigh 174 pounds and get taken with the eighth selection at the NFL Draft, people rightfully take notice and get excited. And, when you scout him, that excitement does not ebb. There is a whole lot to like about Tavon Austin. Once you get past his lack of size and the potential risk to injury, it’s really all positive.
In today’s NFL, smaller players are making an impact, and, with the new rules making it harder to physically punish receivers, the trend may continue. When you look at players like T.Y. Hilton and Wes Welker to name a few, you have to have high hopes for Austin, who, apart from his size, is the total package.
- He’s got speed and acceleration to burn.
- His cuts are simply out of this galaxy.
- He plays the receiver position with passion.
- He’s explosive with his routes.
- He’s makes the catches he needs to make and then some.
- He’s versatile, and can play as a tailback, giving his team nice pre-snap flexibility.
- As far as 2013 goes, it’s hard to envision Austin as anything other than a central cog in the Rams’ machine. Today we’re hearing about a balanced attack from Rams’ COO Kevin Demoff, who has made a wave or two with this comment.
“One of the most exciting things during OTA's and the offseason was to watch the offense open up and use all of the weapons, and Brian really presents some matchup problems outside with his height and speed. The goal this year is for Sam to be able to throw to the "open" player, and I expect that we will get meaningful contributions from all 5 WR's, the 2 TE's and the running backs. I think you could see this offense resemble an offense like the Saints where you have 4 or 5 players catch 40-50 balls but nobody who catches 70 or 80. I'm not saying that we are the Saints offense, we need to improve to become that, but more that style where anybody can be a threat on any play. I think that is where we are evolving, letting the down, distance, scheme and coverage dictate who becomes the targeted player.”
It’s exactly what the Rams should be doing--what we project them to be doing. Does this negatively impact the value of Austin? Not one iota. Austin cannot be a high volume player if he is to survive in the NFL. Ten touches per week is more than enough for this kid to be a huge fantasy factor. Sure, the Rams offense will be as tendency-free as they can make it. OC Brian Schottenheimer has always had a very opponent-specific approach to weekly preparation and play-calling. The Rams will absolutely go after the path of least resistance and find the open man.
Now think about that for a second.
Who is most likely going to be the open man? We’re betting on the team’s fastest, quickest and most talented player.
The Rams are too dangerous across the formation to try and double team the slot with any consistency and don’t forget that they can and will sprinkle Austin in at tailback. They didn’t take this kid at eight overall to use him as a decoy, folks.
So, back to the original question. Is he being taken too soon as they are saying over at rotoworld?
That sort of depends on the outlet you use for your ADP. I’ve seen Austin as high as the 27th receiver taken and I’ve seen him as low as 43. Fantasy Football Calculator has him closest to our ranking. They list him at 32. That is only one above our current ranking for Austin.
So yeah, it appears that he’s being taken early sometimes due to hype and that’s worth understanding in redraft formats. You don’t want to chase Austin up the board. I’m more inclined to be patient and try to nab Austin if he slips a bit. He’s definitely a player to target because his upside is really, really high. Then again, if he’s still on the board at 43 as they say he often is at Mock Draft Central, he is a freaking steal for his upside alone.
In 12-team redrafts, I like the idea of adding Austin in the 7th or 8th round as long as better options aren’t still around. Consult our rankings for what those better options are.
Here's some footage of Austin ripping up the Sooners last season....