Archive for the ‘West Virginia’ Category

The 5’9” Tavon Austin is not a physical specimen on the surface, but the young man from Baltimore, Maryland is probably the most intriguing prospect in this year’s class. In his time as a Mountaineer, Austin played both running back and wide receiver, both at a pretty high level. Before I really dove into his film, I wasn’t as high on Tavon as some of the analysts seem to be; however, while I was very impressed by what I saw of him, I still have some questions regarding Austin.

Austin has that “special” factor that some scouts really look for in offensive playmakers. Tavon runs unlike anyone I have ever had to privilege of watching before in my life. He runs a sub-4.3 40-yard dash and looks even faster than that on a game field. There is not a person I can think of in the history of sports than stops and starts any better than Austin does; it is amazing some of the plays he made by stopping on a dime, changing direction, and kicking it right back in to gear again.

While at West Virginia, Tavon posted some phenomenal numbers as a receiver. In 2012, Austin had over 100 catches for well over 1000 yards and 12 touchdowns. Tavon even had a respectable season as a running back posting 643 yards; of course half of those yards came in an unbelievable performance against Oklahoma.

There are a lot of people that are in love with Tavon Austin, and they have good reason to be. There simply aren’t many human beings with the running ability and agility of Austin. Personally though, I’m not convinced that he will be able to translate his skills into the NFL.

Before I start getting too negative, I do want to add some more positive aspects of Tavon’s game. Austin has some solid hands; I am not too high on Geno Smith so it was good to see Tavon make some great catches with a quarterback that I consider far from elite. Also, from what I can tell, Austin appears to be a good teammate and a hard worker, which will certainly help him in his transition to the next level.

My biggest concern with Austin is that I’m not really sure if he is a great all-around receiver. From what I saw, Tavon didn’t seem like a great route runner; in fact I would call some of his routes downright abysmal. Now this wasn’t a problem for him at West Virginia, from what I watched even when he ran a poor route he was still able to make the catch against bad coverage. His slants weren’t very crisp and he rounded his outs far too often in the film I watched.

I am not saying that Tavon is bound to be a bust because of this, far from it. I am simply curious as to how he will respond when the coverage is tighter and the game is faster. Tavon has all sorts of potential, but if he wants to be great he has to evolve as a route runner so that he can create the separation he needs to make plays. Honestly, I am also curious as to how he will be used in an NFL offense that more often than not requires more precision in route running than Tavon has. I wonder if the team that drafts him will consider giving Austin any snaps at the running back position.

Tavon is going to open a lot of eyes this weekend at the combine in Indy. I expect him to break at least a couple of records in drills and impress a lot of NFL scouts. He will not go any later than the bottom of the first round and probably shouldn’t. I now for a fact there will be at least a dozen head coaches who will be dreaming of how to use someone like this in their offense. Tavon can make a big impact right away if he can work on refining his route running and learn to create separation at the next level.

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Geno Smith

Geno Smith rears back to throw in a game in 2012. Smith is now one of the top quarterbacks in the 2013 draft class.

When one is thinking about who the next RGIII or Russell Wilson is could be, for this draft class, pictures of West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith might pop into their heads. At least, they have for me. Smith, who was a Heisman Trophy candidate last year and threw for school-records of 11,662 yards and 98 touchdowns during his career as a Mountaineer is now one of the top quarterbacks available in this year’s draft class.

Now, I will evaluate Smith on these categories: Accuracy Short, Accuracy Deep, Accuracy Outside the Pocket, Arm Strength, Clutch, Decision-Making, Mechanics, Mobility, Pocket Pressure, Health, and Overall.

ACCURACY SHORT: 

I was very impressed with Geno Smith’s short accuracy. He throws short balls on a rope exactly where they need to be so that only his receiver can grab them. He can fit a throw into the smallest of windows and really isn’t afraid to throw any pass. His short passes are usually on target, and it’s hard to imagine that anyone in this draft class is more accurate in this regard. at 3:43 of the Baylor game, Smith throws a short fade to Stedman Bailey for a touchdown that showcases Smith’s short accuracy. He does basically fall apart when pressured, but I will get into that later. 9.0/10.0

ACCURACY DEEP: 

Geno Smith has one of the prettiest deep balls that I’ve seen out of this year’s quarterbacks. It is has a perfect launch, lands exactly where it needs to be and he throws it so that his receivers don’t have to adjust to the ball at all. It is neither in front of or behind the receiver, it just lands perfectly in the receiver’s hands. Example of this is 1:39 in the Baylor game. But, the same issue that I have with his short accuracy applies here. 9.0/10.0

ACCURACY OUTSIDE THE POCKET: 

Geno Smith basically has no accuracy when he exits the pocket. It is really disappointing to be honest. I went in thinking that Geno had some pretty good mobility, so he should be fairly accurate when he scrambles and leaves the pocket, but I was mistaken. This is one of  Smith’s biggest areas of improvement, but if he can improve on this, then he could have a great career in the NFL. But for now, 6.0/10.0

ARM STRENGTH: 

Just look at any of Geno’s deep throws and the speed that he puts on his short passes and one can see that he can make any of the throws that the NFL requires. He can make deep, short, and intermediate passes very accurately when he has the time. 9.0/10.0

CLUTCH: 

The Oklahoma game from this past season is probably the best example of Geno Smith in the clutch. In that game, West Virginia basically had to answer Oklahoma every time they had the ball and Geno, in general, answered touchdown-for-touchdown. When it came to the end of the game, the Mountaineers came up short on a hail mary. This game shows that Geno definitely can be clutch and I’m sure that a NFL team will see that and believe that he can do the same for their team. But that game, and the loss, was not to blame on Geno’s ability in the clutch, but on West Virginia’s defense, which basically failed every time that Oklahoma got the ball and gave up a touchdown. So, I would say that Geno can be clutch, but when you look at when he gets pressured, then it shows a lack of clutch. 8.5/10.0

DECISION-MAKING: 

Geno has amazing decision-making when he has the time in the pocket, but when he gets pressured, his ability to make good decisions disappears and he throws a ton of questionable passes that are in danger of getting intercepted. If Geno can improve on this, then he can be a great quarterback in the NFL, but if not, then he may be a starter for a couple of years in the NFL, but he’ll spend most of his career bouncing around different teams trying to get a shot. I could see him in a great situation if he got drafted by a team with an aging franchise QB and learning behind him as a backup for a few years, a la Aaron Rodgers. Geno just has a lot of work to do here, but if can do it then he can be something special. 8.0/10.0

MECHANICS: 

Honestly, his mechanics are pretty much perfect. He could move his feet a bit more in the pocket, and he needs to not stare he receivers down as much, but those are all things that can be fixed pretty quickly. 9.5/10.0

MOBILITY:

His trademark is his mobility, but it hurts him in the pass game. When he scrambles, if he runs, it’s amazing and that will help him a ton on Sundays, but if he tries to throw, it’s usually off the mark. I love his mobility, but he needs to learn how to use it to his advantage where he can get open and make throws. 8.0/10.0

POCKET PRESSURE: 

Geno does not deal well with pocket pressure. That’s been a recurring theme throughout this preview. Look at the Texas Tech game from last year. I honestly think that the reason West Virginia lost that game was because of how Geno dealt with the pressure that was put on him by the defensive line of the Red Raiders. A lot of that blame has to go to his offensive line, though. They need to protect Geno and allow him to have the time to make a good throw. When they do, he is an amazing QB with amazing accuracy. He’ll definitely need to work on this in the pros. 8.0/10.0

HEALTH: 

No injury concerns here. 10.0/10.0

OVERALL: 

Geno Smith gets an 8.5/10.0 from me. Overall, I think that Geno could be a good QB in the NFL, but not a great one and not a franchise QB. Now, it is true that this year’s class of quarterbacks is pretty weak. There may not be a true franchise QB in the whole group. But that doesn’t mean that teams aren’t and definitely doesn’t mean that teams shouldn’t give these guys a chance. They’re all good quarterbacks. There’s no denying that. They’ll just have some work to do. And that is definitely the case for Geno Smith. Where do I think Geno will go? I think that he’ll be a first round pick, and that teams like Kansas City, Jacksonville, Arizona, and Buffalo who really need quarterbacks will take a look at Geno and they will like what they see enough to draft him. I personally think that Arizona will take Smith with the 7th overall pick. But we’ll see if I’m right or not on April 25th!

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Let me know what you think in the comments section below and follow me on Twitter! @J_Vinton52

Tomorrow, I will be profiling Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee!