Posts Tagged ‘tavon’

Winners

  • Knile Davis of Arkansas opened some eyes with his combine performance

    Knile Davis of Arkansas opened some eyes with his combine performance

    Knile Davis, RB, Arkansas – Davis has had a rough last two years, after missing all of the 2011 season with an ankle injury, he followed it up with a poor showing in 2012. Teams should realize though that Davis was sensational in 2010 before his injury and a lot of his problems in 2012 were not his fault but the fault of the entire Razorbacks team, a team that had hopes of winning the SEC before giving up after about 3 weeks. Davis had a phenomenal combine performance and showed scouts that they should probably dust off that tape from 2010.

  • Tyrann Mathieu, DB, LSU – Mathieu started off his combine well with a great press conference with the media. He followed that up by having a pitiful performance in the bench press with just 4 reps, calling his work ethic into question. But when he got on the field he showed why he was the best defensive player in the nation in 2011.
  • Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia – Austin’s stock was already on the rise prior to the combine but he really showed some elite skill in Indy. He had one of the fastest 40 times of the 4 days at any position, and showed some great pass catching ability. He even showed improvement with his route running, which for me, makes him a first round pick and a potential game-changer.

Losers

  • Manti Te'o of Notre Dame did little to help his draft stock in Indy

    Manti Te’o of Notre Dame did little to help his draft stock in Indy

    Manti Te’o, LB, Notre Dame – Personally, I think Te’o is going to be a fine player in the NFL. People are going to harp on him because of his slow 40 time but I don’t think it is that big of a deal. Players even at his position have run times slower than him and gone on to have good careers (Brandon Spikes comes to mind who ran a 5.0). Te’o also showed in his press conference that maturity really shouldn’t be a concern with him. When it comes down to it though, I just get the feeling NFL teams are not going to like what they saw out of him on the field and he may slip into the second round because of it.

  • Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah – Obviously this doesn’t have to do with any kind of performance issue since he was unable to work out at the combine. However, the issue that arose as of a result of a combine examination could spell bad news for Lotulelei’s draft stock. On the other hand it could be great news for a team who would never have had the chance to draft him, as he could slip to the middle of the first because of this heart problem. Lotulelei is a special player and it is going to be a shame to see him fall out of the top-10 where he rightfully belongs. (I could also put Sharrif Floyd into the “winners” category because of this)

West Virginia’s Tavon Austin during a drill at the NFL Combine

Coming in to day 2 of the NFL combine in Indianapolis, the biggest storyline was probably how Tavon Austin was going to perform on the field. Austin has been getting a lot of press over the past few weeks and it was going to be critical for him to live up to the hype. Austin may not have been the fastest wide receiver today, but he was certainly impressive in drills.

After Austin and Texas wide receiver Marquise Goodwin ran their 40-yard dash, they both had an unofficial time of 4.25 seconds. Later, when the official times were squared away, Goodwin came away the decisive victor with a time of 4.27. Whoever timed Austin must have had a heavy trigger finger and his official time came in at 4.34. Along with Austin and Goodwin, Texas A&M’s Ryan Swope, Oklahoma’s Kenny Stills, and TCU’s Josh Boyce all ran under 4.4 seconds in the wide receiver group.

Austin was technically not a top performer in any other drill today, other than the 3-cone drill, but when you consider his height of just about 5’8” in cleats, Austin had a very good day. Austin had a 32-inch vertical jump and 120-inch broad jump, both more than solid marks considering his stature. He also looked very good catching the football this morning. Austin was probably already a lock to be a first round pick, but he certainly helped his draft stock even more with his performance in Indy.

Before moving on, I should mention Michigan QB Denard Robinson worked with the wide receivers today and looked pretty good doing it. He ran a good 40 time of 4.43 seconds and looked decent in drills. It will be very interesting to see if NFL teams think he has the ability to make the transition to wide receiver at the next level.

After the receivers, the quarterbacks took to the field at Lucas Oil Stadium for their on-field drills. The number one QB on most boards is Geno Smith from West Virginia, and he did nothing to hurt himself today, which is all you can ask from him. He ran a great 40 at 4.59 seconds (best in the group) and had a very good broad jump at 10’4” (also best in the group). Smith also had a 33.5” vertical jump, just a half inch behind Florida State QB EJ Manuel who recorded a 34” vertical. Smith also looked pretty good throwing the ball so he should certainly still be the top guy in this mediocre group of QBs.

As I’m writing this, the running backs are just finishing up their drills for the day and the story of in that group, again, was the speedsters. The winner of the day was Auburn running back Onterio McCalebb who had an unofficial time of 4.21 seconds in his second attempt of the 40-yard dash. If that mark would have stood, it would have broken the record set by Chris Johnson in 2008. However, that time was just a tad off as the official time came in at 4.34, which was still the best time of the day. McCalebb obviously has some world-class speed, but he is an extremely small guy with a sprinter’s frame. McCalebb could find a spot on a team as a return specialist but unless he bulks up (a lot) he will be destroyed in the NFL as a running back.

Onterio McCalebb from Auburn wowed the scouts in Lucas Oil with his blazing speed

Other running backs that opened my eyes were Arkansas back Knile Davis and Johnathan Franklin from UCLA. Davis held the lead in the 40 for a long time with an official time of 4.37 before McCalebb’s second attempt. What you have to realize about Davis is that he had a phenomenal season in 2010 with over 1000 yards and 13 touchdowns. Davis then missed the entire 2011 season. What you shouldn’t do is blame him for having a poor 2012 for the razorbacks, that team gave up after week 3. After the day he had today, scouts are going to have to take another look at him, and he might just shoot up a lot of draft boards.

On the other hand, Johnathan Franklin might be the most interesting prospect at the running back position. UCLA head coach Jim Mora had some very high praise for Franklin today and Franklin showed some good ability today in drills. After today’s performance, I know that I’m going to go and take another, closer look at Franklin on film.

The day that quarterbacks, wide receivers, and running backs take the field is always a marquee day at the combine. There were plenty of storylines in Indy today and some great performances with some world-class speed and agility being showcased at all positions. There were some players that helped their draft stock immensely, and a lot that probably stayed at the status quo.

Check us out tomorrow as defensive lineman and linebackers take the field at Lucas Oil Stadium.

 

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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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