Calvin Austin III is severely undersized for the NFL level, and every time he takes a crushing hit you cringe. But, he’s an explosive playmaker and Tutu Atwell is smaller than Austin is and he was drafted too. He’s progressed tremendously from 2020 to 2021, almost a different player. Austin also performed in track and field as a sprinter in the 2018 and 2019 seasons before focusing completely on football.

Austin best projects as a slot receiver who is used in a “scatback” style role, mostly schemed into space to utilize his quickness and open-field agility. Because of his size, he’s going to have to get into a system that will play him to his strengths and allow him to use his speed. While we have him as a slot receiver, it’s certainly plausible to think that he can play out wide because he is such a savvy route runner. Most likely, though, Austin won’t see a real impact on the team until year two or even three as he works his way through the depth chart, potentially contributing on special teams in the meantime.

The Measurables

Calvin Austin III

Slot WR – #4 Memphis

HT: 5085
WT: 162
DOB: 3/24/1999

Year: Redshirt Senior
High School: Harding Academy (Memphis, TN)
HS Rating: 3 star (0.8333)
Phil Steele: N/A

Calvin Austin III Scouting Report

Potentially game-changing speed. Absolute burner. Looks like he will run in the 4.33/4.38 range, if not faster. Very shifty. Austin has excellent control of his body. Excellent acceleration. Austin is an extremely explosive athlete, perhaps the top of the class.

Strong route runner. Very smooth throughout his break going from speed to change of direction and back to speed. Works back well to the quarterback. Ran an advanced route tree at Memphis. Extremely nuanced and very knowledgeable. Good, shifty release. Works well to get free and unimpeded into his route with his pure shifty quickness. Has a variety of ways to get off of press coverage, including ducking the coverage.

Good hands. Made some real circus catches. Very fluid throughout the play, can reach and scrap for catches. Excellent catch radius. Catches well through contact. Deep threat ability with the combination of his speed and route-running savvy. Excellent field vision, see’s space well and get’s to it. Manipulates defenders with his movement. Surprisingly effective as a run blocker on the perimeter despite his lack of size. Stayed healthy most of his career, but you have to wonder how well he will hold up at the next level. Defenders tried to key into his size in college and hurt him at times.

What we want to see from Calvin Austin III in Mobile

  • There’s not too much of a list. Consistency will be the first thing, not because Austin had drop issues in college but because the level of competition isn’t as great at Memphis as it is at a power-five school. This should be a step up for him. We want to see him continue to dominate.
  • How quickly can Austin build chemistry with the quarterbacks in attendence? Oftentimes, it’s hard for a quarterback to dial into the pure speed of a prospect.
  • Overall, Austin needs to just confirm what’s been seen on tape.

Pre-Senior Bowl projection

Slot receivers have been a valuable position in the draft over the last couple of years. However, speaking with multiple former personnel directors around the league, it’s not a trend that’s expected to continue. That means that the data for a prospect like Austin is flawed, because we can’t rely on the past trends to set the precedent for what to expect.

We project Austin as a third/fourth-round grade. The Senior Bowl should confirm what we have seen on tape, and if it does it should lock him into that range. He’s a phenomenal talent who could have a solid career in the NFL.

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By John Vogel

NFL Draft Analyst. Dad.

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