Evaluating players is a long process. It doesn’t end when an analyst watches a few games of a prospect. I want you to keep this in mind as you read this take or any take that I provide of a player before his college career has ended. My methodology of evaluation is as detailed as any and I often find that the third, fourth, or fifth game I’ve watched of a player only validates what I saw in the first performance. Even so, there are times that my fundamental opinion of a player will change with additional viewings of games.
Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall comes to mind. I had initial concerns about his acceleration that eventually diminished after additional viewings of his performances. The more I watched him, the more I liked him. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the more I watched quarterback Matt Leinart the less confident I felt that he had the on-field makeup to become anything more than system player with fringe starter potential.
I share this because West Virginia receiver and return specialist Tavon Austin is one of those players where after my initial studies I have more questions than answers. Several draft analysts list Austin as one of the five best receiver prospects of the 2013 N.F.L. Draft class – including NFL Draft Scout and my buddy Josh Norris over at Rotoworld. I agree that the 5-9, 176-pound slot receiver and kick return specialist from West Virginia is among the most productive performers at his position in college football, but what I have seen of Austin continues to raise one question: Is there a slot receiver in pro football with the kind of marquee game that in hindsight would have deserved a first-day pick in April?
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