One of the most talented prospects in the 2013 NFL draft is former West Virginia wide receiver Tavon Austin, and the surefire first-round pick has become the talk of the football world as his stock continues to climb.
According to ESPN’s Brent Sobleski, the hype around Austin is through the roof and a significant number of teams in the first round will look to take the receiver if he’s there when they pick:
Brent Sobleski @brentsobleski
Source: A total of eight teams have already told WVU WR Tavon Austin they will select him if he's on the board -- including one Top 10 team4/24/2013, 2:40:58 PM
All of the following landing spots are the most likely for one of the most talented all-around athletes in the 2013 draft class.
1. New York Jets
Where They Pick: No. 9 and No. 13
The New York Jets have two very high first-round draft picks (No. 9 and No. 13 overall), and the possibility that the team would use one of those selections on a versatile offensive threat like Tavon Austin could realistically come to fruition.
New York’s offense was flat-out horrible in 2012, ranking 30th in the NFL with just 180.7 yards passing per game. Adding a game-changing wide receiver like Austin that can make plays after the catch is the kind of move that the franchise’s lack of success last year proved necessary.
Austin doesn’t have the ideal size to be the Jets No. 1 receiver, but with Santonio Holmes in New York for at least one more season, the franchise will have a chance to find the heir apparent to the outside receiver positions while Austin thrives in the slot.
While Austin’s presence doesn’t solve the issues at quarterback, he will provide whoever is under center a viable option on almost every passing play.
2. St. Louis Rams
Where They Pick: No. 16 and No. 22
One team that should absolutely be looking for wide receivers in the first round is the St. Louis Rams, and if Tavon Austin is available at No. 16, the team must take him.
Not only would Austin fill the need at wide receiver for the Rams—the team lost its top two wide receivers in Danny Amendola and Brandon Gibson via free agency—drafting a player of his caliber would give star quarterback the kind of support he needs to be a franchise quarterback.
St. Louis must take Austin if he is there at No. 16—or the best wide receiver available if the Jets or another team trades up to snag the West Virginia star—because a player this talented would be selected by the teams picking before the Rams' next chance at No. 22.
If St. Louis is lucky enough to have the opportunity to draft Austin, they can’t afford to screw it up.
3. Cincinnati Bengals
Where They Pick: No. 21
If Tavon Austin falls all the way to No. 21, not only would the Cincinnati Bengals get the perfect complement to wide receiver A.J. Green, the franchise would get the biggest steal of the draft.
Austin would be the inside receiver that allowed Green to continue being the dominant deep threat he has become since joining the NFL. Quarterback Andy Dalton would also finally have a viable No. 2 option, and the offense would be one of the most dangerous in the AFC.
It’s hard to see Austin falling this far—especially if the rumors of a top-10 team liking him are true—but at this time of year, every franchise is throwing up smokescreens to get franchises to bit on trades and anything is possible.
Don’t be surprised if a team like Cincinnati trades up on draft day to get Austin if the franchise feels like he is the right fit for the future.