The St. Louis Rams would be smart to draft wide receiver Tavon Austin in the first round of the 2013 NFL draft.
Austin is one of the top receivers in this year's draft class, along with Cordarrelle Patterson and Keenan Allen. This trio of young, talented players will take the NFL by storm in 2013, but it remains to be seen where they'll end up.
This year's draft class is loaded with exceptional offensive and defensive linemen, many of whom will be taken early on in the proceedings. This abundance of front line players will inevitably push these skill players down the board a bit.
With this in mind, let's take a look at which teams have the best shot at landing one of these three receivers.
Tavon Austin, West Virginia
The Austin bullet train is about to hit the NFL in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1...
This young man is scary good. His lack of size (5'8" and 174 pounds) will limit him from becoming a threat on the outside, but Austin will dominate the middle of the field in the NFL.
Austin possesses elite speed (4.34-second 40), quickness and open-field skills. His ability to change direction without losing momentum is top notch, and he'll leave many an NFL defensive back in the dust on cuts inside or out.
Big plays will be his specialty, and in the right offense, he'll make Wes Welker's production look pedestrian (artistic license). Simply put, Austin is a highlight-reel machine.
Best Landing Spots
- St. Louis Rams (No. 16 or No. 22): Austin will give Sam Bradford a reliable target in the middle of the field. He'll slide into the spot vacated by Danny Amendola, who recently signed a free-agent contract with the New England Patriots.
- Pittsburgh Steelers (No. 17): Heath Miller's getting old, and the Steelers recently lost their big-play speedster, Mike Wallace. Austin would give Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers offense a big boost.
Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee
Unlike Austin, who is ready to be a main weapon in 2013, Patterson is more of a project player who will take some time to develop into a complete receiver.
Patterson's skill set is one that will ultimately make him a star, but at this time, his ability to stretch the field is what will earn him playing time this upcoming season.
Blessed with physical capabilities that rival Julio Jones, Patterson features elite speed (4.42-second 40), size (6'2" and 216 pounds) and after-the-catch skills. He is a raw route-runner, though, who won't fool many NFL defensive backs when he cuts in and out of his breaks.
Best Landing Spots
- Pittsburgh Steelers (No. 17): As was already mentioned, the Steelers lost Wallace to the Dolphins. Wallace was the team's best vertical threat, and Patterson would be able to step in and fill the same roll on the perimeter.
- Minnesota Vikings (No. 23 or No. 25): With Greg Jennings on one side of the field demanding double coverage and tight end Kyle Rudolph attracting defenders underneath, Patterson's ability to go deep would force defenses to play away from the line of scrimmage. Should the Vikings draft him, Adrian Peterson would benefit greatly.
Keenan Allen, California
Allen is a big receiver (6'2" and 206 pounds) who possesses excellent hands and who can catch difficult passes over the middle. He's a polished receiver who understands zone concepts, and he'll be able to step into an NFL starting lineup from the first day of training camp.
He is adept at leaping up to snag passes at their highest point, possesses adequate (but not elite) speed and who can play every receiver position on the field.
Unfortunately, his draft stock has slipped in the past few months due to a nagging knee injury that has caused him to miss workouts at the combine and his pro day.
Provided he checks out medically before the draft, however, Allen will be one of the first receivers selected in 2013.
Best Landing Spots
- Houston Texans (No. 27): Andre Johnson isn't getting any younger. By the time the season begins, he'll be 32, and the Texans must bring in a talented young receiver to take pressure off of him in the passing game.
- New England Patriots (No. 29): Tom Brady has been phenomenal throughout his career with mediocre receivers, but he's been unstoppable when given elite tools with which to work with. Adding a skilled receiver like Allen to New England's roster will be a huge boost to the team's passing game and make New England's offense difficult to defend against.
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