Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
As Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch pointed out following the draft, it's irresponsible for analysts to automatically assume the 5'8", 174-pound Tavon Austin is an injury risk because of his size, as there have been numerous undersized players in the past who went on to have long, productive careers.
I agree with Miklasz's logic, and there don't seem to be any blemishes from Austin's college career indicating an injury problem. However, having seen Austin on the field in person, it's absolutely breathtaking how small he is compared to the other players.
It's hard to believe that a crushing hit from a linebacker wouldn't have a devastating effect on his body.
Austin is a dynamic weapon on offense and special teams, so an injury would be a difficult obstacle for the team to overcome. His speed and big-play ability cannot be replaced.
I realize an injury to Austin is not something Rams fans want to think about, but surely I'm not the only one curious to see how Austin holds up after 16 games' worth of punishment.
And if Austin goes down, it won't be the offense alone that feels the sting, because the scouting department will take heat as well. Fans will suddenly begin to question the logic that led to using a top-10 pick on a 5'8" receiver.
I'm in no way against the Austin pick, and I'm as excited as anyone to see him play on Sundays, but I'm simply pointing out that if Austin fails, the backlash will be more severe than it would be if he were a 6'4" prototype receiver.
Not only does the offense depend on Austin's health and productivity, but the general manager's reputation highly depends on it as well.
However, a productive rookie year will put our collective concerns to rest.