Calvin Austin III Draft Profile
One of the most overused terms when describing fast football players is saying that they have “track-speed”; however, Memphis wide receiver, Calvin Austin, actually does. He chose to go to Memphis because of their track team and ran sprints for the team freshman through junior year. Austin was brought in as a preferred walk-on and is now the next great Memphis player to enter the draft. Every year there is at least one Memphis skill player to come into the league: Kenny Gainwell, Antonio Gibson, Anthony Miller, Tony Pollard, Darrell Henderson— to name a few. Austin is looking to be the next great Tiger to enter the NFL. In the pre-draft process, Austin has been mesmerizing teams all over the NFL. He had one of the biggest performances at the senior bowl and impressed that entire week. At the combine, Austin ran a 4.32-second 40-yard dash and looked like the smoothest player in the draft. He’s been impressing during the interview process and teams have been falling in love with him; he’s been arguably the fastest riser in this year’s draft class!
When watching Calvin Austin play, the first thing you notice is his speed— he is a burner. Teams are going to find creative ways to move him all around the field and get the ball in his hands. I am pretty confident he has run a 40-yard dash faster than the 4.32 he did at the combine. Coming off the line, Austin uses his speed with speed releases and three-step jab releases. Defenses will have to put their fastest defensive backs on Austin or they stand no chance. I’m not comparing him to Tyreek Hill because whenever someone compares a player to Tyreek Hill that player usually ends up a bust. With that being said, he had that Tyreek Hill effect on defenses where they would go out of their way to make sure there was a safety over Austin at all times. While Austin is only 5’8, he still can win jump balls. He made catching the ball while defenders were draped over him a habit. His ability to make contested catches despite his shorter stature was impressive. One attribute that teams covet is receivers that can also play on special teams. Austin is one hell of a punt-returner and has tremendous special teams IQ. Against Mississippi State, he had one of the craziest punt returns in the 4th quarter to seal the win. Mississippi State thought they “downed the football”, but it was still a live ball; Austin picked up the football and ran in a 93-yard touchdown. Austin has also shown tremendous YAC-ability and he wears his heart on his sleeve once the ball is in is hands. Austin’s speed makes him the most intimidating 5’8 dude in the draft, defensive coordinators will be staying up all night trying to slow him down.
When watching college prospects, I try to let the player stick out for himself rather than intentionally look for him. The problem with Austin is that there were quite a few games where he disappeared. Against SMU and UCF, Austin was limited and barely stood out. For top two-round picks, I shouldn’t have a hard time finding them on tape. At the top of his routes, I’d like to see him have better control over his speed. He comes up high instead of staying low when he is making his cuts. When the football is in the air, I’d like to see him show his hands later. He puts his hands out too early when tracking the football which results in the defensive back getting a read on the ball. Austin’s height may prevent him from being a true number one receiver in the NFL, but I still believe a creative offensive coordinator can find a way to make Austin THAT DUDE.
At Memphis, Austin was primarily an outside X receiver that played on the line of scrimmage; I see his role changing once he gets into the NFL. If I was an offensive coordinator, I would move Austin around a lot on pre-snap motion and I’d put him in the backfield. His primary role will be in the slot and a punt returner; it is hard not to get excited about what Calvin Austin will bring to an NFL team’s offense. I don’t want to compare him to Tyreek Hill, so I’ll compare him to Rondale Moore. In a similar way to Moore, I can see Austin having a difficult time finding his footing once he first gets into the league. Once Austin does get settled, I believe he can be a featured weapon for an NFL team. I have a late second to early third-round grade on him, but I could see him going earlier than I expected. The Chiefs could be looking to find a replacement for Tyreek Hill in the second round and Austin could be that guy. The Texans and Titans need players with speed and the Eagles need a true separator. Austin’s potential is enticing, teams can get really creative with him; I think he’ll be very exciting to watch.
Ability to Separate: 8.75/10
Release/Top of Routes: 7/8
Route Running: 6.25/8
Contested Catch: 6.5/8
Hands + Catch Radius: 6.25/8
Speed + Control: 6.75/7
Natural Talent: 4/5
Final Rating: 84
Pro Comparison: Rondale Moore
Team Fits: Texans, Eagles, Titans, Chiefs
Draft Grade: Late Second Round - Early Third Round
Draft Projection: Mid - Late Second Round