NFL Combine Records: Tavon Austin Ups Stock After Sniffing Chris Johnson's Mark

Ryan RudnanskySenior Writer IFebruary 25, 2013

MORGANTOWN, WV - NOVEMBER 03:  Tavon Austin #1 of the West Virginia Mountaineers carries the ball against the TCU Horned Frogs during the game on November 3, 2012 at Mountaineer Field in Morgantown, West Virginia.  TCU defeated WVU in two overtimes 39-38.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The Wes Welker comparisons are mounting after West Virginia receiver Tavon Austin ran the 40-yard dash in 4.34 seconds at the NFL combine on Sunday.

Whether you agree with the comparisons or not, one thing's for sure: It's hard to imagine Austin not being a first-round pick in the 2013 NFL draft.

Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson holds the record for the fastest 40-yard dash at the combine since 2006, posting a mark of 4.24 seconds. Austin's blazing time on Sunday was just another reminder that the 5'8", 174-pound wideout cannot be ignored.

Austin is certainly not being viewed as a perfect receiver headed into the draft. His lack of size probably relegates him to the slot as a receiver.

But Austin's speed—combined with his elusiveness, vision, toughness and balance—could make him a very dangerous player in the NFL. To say he has home-run potential would be an understatement. This kid can flat-out fly and he can be a dynamic weapon on fly sweeps, quick screens and go routes.

Welker—who went undrafted out of Texas Tech in 2004—has proven that you don't have to be tall to be an excellent receiver in the pros. His five Pro Bowl selections exemplify that.

Percy Harvin—another player Austin is drawing comparisons to—has also strengthened the case for smaller receivers. 

Numerous players have been dinged on their lack of size throughout the years in the NFL only to emerge as formidable assets in specialized roles. The days of judging a player solely due to his size appear to be coming to an end. As more and more players defy the odds by playing bigger than their size, more and more teams are taking notice.

Austin was already widely regarded as a fringe first-round prospect before Sunday's scintillating performance. Now that he's posted an eye-opening time in the 40-yard dash (as well as registering a strong mark in the 20-yard shuttle), it's hard to imagine him being available in the second round of the draft this year.


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