Drafted: 1st round, 8th overall
40 receptions for 418 yards and 4 TD
9 rushes for 151 yards and 1 TD
- Ranked 11th among rookies in receptions
- Ranked 16th among rookies in receiving yards
- Ranked 16th among rookies in rushing yards
- Ranked 7th among rookies in receiving TD
Prior to the season we published an article entitled “Over Draft Checking: Why Tavon Austin Is Likely Being Draft Too Highly” (click here to view) and at that point we mentioned that he was going to need time to adjust and could have some big weeks mixed in with some awful weeks. Unfortunately “some” big weeks proved to be a gross overstatement.
Austin’s 4 receiving TD came in just two games. Only once did he have over 47 yards and, after the first two weeks of the season (when he posted 41 and 47 yards), he was over 39 just once. Granted, he had a few big runs late in the season, which helps, but the Rams need to show that they are committed to getting him the ball in open space.
Injuries definitely played at least a small role in his disappointing season. The loss of Sam Bradford had a clear impact on his production. Over the first seven weeks with Bradford at QB Austin was targeted at least 5 times in six games. In the six games he played without Bradford he was targeted at least 5 times just twice (and never more than 7 times).
Austin himself obviously missed time as well, dealing with an ankle injury, which also helped contribute to his less than stellar numbers. As it is, he actually led the Rams receivers in receptions, though you could argue that it speaks more to the troubles the team has there.
A return to health for Sam Bradford will help, as will the development of Zac Stacy. That said, Austin needs to do a better job of making big plays. That’s what was expected of him and he generally just failed to do so in his rookie season (10.5 yards/reception, 280 punt return yards on 33 attempts).
He has the potential to be dynamic out of the slot, but chances are he will be more of an inconsistent, “boom or bust” threat. There will be big weeks, but they will likely be sandwiched around poor ones.
That type of inconsistency will make Austin a major risk to be drafted as one of your top three wide receivers. That said, the upside is enough that he’s well worth the roll of the dice as a reserve option in case he and the team figures it out.
Sources – ESPN, NFL.com