West Virgina WR Tavon Austin is undoubtedly one of the most intriguing prospects in this upcoming draft. He's lit up the combine with the top 40 time of 4.34, which only affirms the blazing speed you see from him on tape. His college production is off the charts.
Last season he caught 114 passes for 1,289 yards and 12 TDs. If that was all he did, it would be a great season, but he also carried the ball 72 times for 643 yards and 3 TDs. If that wasn't enough, he also added a 100 yard kickoff return and a 76 yard punt return for TDs.
"You want to talk about one of the most electric players I've ever seen in college football," said NFL Network's Mike Mayock. "He put a performance on against the University of Oklahoma that was one of the most amazing I've ever seen. Over 500 yards of offense -- he played mostly tailback."
"In the NFL, it's all about matchups, and this young man is a matchup nightmare. What I love about (Austin), he's got good hands. We already know he can run, we know how quick he is. I know he's tough. And he's a game-changer."
So why isn't he far and away the top rated WR in this class? Well, that comes down to measurements. Austin officially checked in at 5-8, 174 pounds. To put that in perspective, he's 2 inches shorter than DeSean Jackson. So clearly, there are durability concerns at the NFL level.
That said, Austin hasn't had a problem staying healthy in college, he's played in every game over his Mountaineers career. Part of that is that he's smart about being a little guy, but also despite his small stature... he's just built well. That was certainly evidenced by the fact that he managed 14 reps on the bench press, which is as much or more than every WR that could conceivably be taken before him, with the possible exception of DeAndre Hopkins, who did 15 reps.
He's often described as a Percy Harvin type player that can line up as both a tailback and wideout with regularity while also being a major threat in the return game. He's already thrived in a spread option offense in college and it's exciting to think how Chip Kelly could utilize a guy like him at this level. We've already seen Chip have success with players of this ilk, like DeAnthony Thomas and Kenjon Barner.
"A lot of teams are looking for a guy who can do multiple things on the football field," Austin said. "I think I'm that guy."
Not only has Austin nailed the workouts, Todd McShay says that teams have told him that Tavon's confidence level has impressed them as well.
"Austin came into the week with a bit of a chip in his shoulder and was not afraid to talk about his own skill set," said McShay. "That confidence served him well, and scouts we've talked to liked what they saw and heard from Austin during interview sessions. Overall, he continues to nail the predraft process and could very well have locked down a spot late in the first round with his showing at the combine."
So could the Eagles even get him and would they want him? His stock certainly seems to be on the rise and there's a decent chance one team that's already good grabs him in the late first to add another lethal element to their offense. However, there's certainly a chance that he could be there when the Eagles pick at the top of the 2nd round.
Even if he is, would he be a need? The Eagles already have a pair of backs that figure to get a lot of work in Chip Kelly's system and they've already got DeSean Jackson, who just may be able to fill a similar role. In his first conversation with Chip Kelly, Jackson said the plan is to use him much like the Oregon Ducks used DeAnthony Thomas. That would certainly be the role for Austin were he here.
All that said, can you ever have too many home run hitters on your offense? With the kind of tempo and speed Chip Kelly is going to want to play with, guys will have to rotate in and out and if you can throw LeSean McCoy, Bryce Brown, DeSean Jackson & Tavon Austin at teams in various different roles throughout a game... That could be really scary.
Finally, Austin's game against Oklahoma that Mike Mayock talked about? It looks as impressive as it sounds.