Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Why the Bucs Should Take a Long Look at Tavon Austin
Douglas Jones-USA TODAY Sports
As the NFL grows more and more into a passing league, the complexity and depth of the offensive and defensive schemes expand every year, each team trying its best to find new ways to exploit matchups to get a leg up on its rivals.
Once in a while, a player appears with the talent and versatility to be a matchup nightmare no matter where he lines up on offense.
Aaron Hernandez is one of those nightmares. He can play tight end, slot receiver, H-back and halfback.
Percy Harvin is another one of those nightmares. He can return the ball, catch it on the outside and in the slot and run with it.
Tavon Austin, the West Virginia wide receiver who will most likely be selected in the first round of the 2013 NFL draft, possesses the ability to be one of those nightmares as well.
And the Tampa Bay Buccaneers should be taking a close look at him.
With the 13th pick overall, the Bucs are in a great spot to either stay put and pick Austin, or take their chances, trade down and see if he's still on the board.
Tampa has bigger holes on its roster than at slot receiver (namely cornerback and defensive tackle), but the 5'8'' Mountaineer may (as in, not definitely) provide the best value out of any prospect the team could possibly add.
Take a look at some of Austin's tape from games against Maryland, Texas and Baylor.
You will see him excel in the slot, run the ball surprisingly well, catch the deep ball, catch in traffic, show off his 4.3 speed, create separation and make plays in space. The only things you won't see are Austin picking up blitzes or mauling linebackers in the run game. Those would mean someone else would have to be the ball-carrier; when you've got Austin on your football team, no one else should be touching the ball, except for the center and the quarterback.
On the Bucs' roster, Austin would push the offense through the stratosphere. No defense could possibly keep him covered in the slot, lock down Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams on the outside and account for Doug Martin catching out of the backfield.
He could even run the ball as a counterpoint to Martin. Imagine the headaches this would cause for defenses tasked with figuring out ways to deal with a run game featuring not one, but two verified play makers in Austin and Martin.
Though Tampa Bay will probably address needs on defense over adding a dynamic slot receiver like Austin, the team should still take a long look at him before making a decision.
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