Austin says he is most versatile player in draft
INDIANAPOLIS — There is no unmistakable top-of-the-board player in the NFL Draft.
West Virginia wide receiver Tavon Austin thinks there should be one.
“I think I'm the best all-around player in this draft,” Austin said.
Geno Smith is at the top among the available quarterbacks, a place that often guarantees a high draft slot and a high salary. He doesn't disagree he belongs there, even if Matt Barkley of Southern Cal ends up being drafted ahead of him.
“I'm athletic. I'm a very smart guy,” Smith said. “I understand defense. I have a good knowledge of the game. I also put the work in necessary to be good.”
It's obvious neither of West Virginia's two anticipated first-round draft picks lack a quality that NFL coaches are seeking as they throw questions, a plethora of tests and a series of speed, agility and strength drills at 333 college players during the most-watched pre-job evaluation in the country: the NFL Scouting Combine.
The weekend offers an opportunity for players to move up in the April draft — as Austin hopes to do — or, perhaps, to move down, something Smith wants to avoid.
There are questions about various qualities of Smith's game, including his ability to adjust if a targeted receiver is covered, but he said he welcomes the opportunity to readjust some thinking.
“I don't feel any pressure,” Smith said. “I'm totally confident in my abilities. I'm not cocky or trying to say I'm this all-around player right now, because I have my areas where I need to grow. But I do feel like I have a great, tremendous skill set, and I have the opportunity to showcase that.”
Smith met with a few teams Friday and will start the testing phase of the combine Saturday.
Austin might be the most dynamic wide receiver-kick returner available but, at 5-foot-8, there are questions about his size and durability. He is projected to go in the first round, but he first must convince teams they aren't taking a risk by drafting an undersized player who could be one hard hit away from a lengthy layoff.
“I'm a little guy, but I play big,” he said.
He also runs fast, returns kicks and accumulates yardage in a big way.
“If we all lined up and ran, I think I'd come up out on top,” he said. “But I'm not really a 40-(yard dash) type of guy. I'm a game type of guy.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Rossi: Wild Wednesday proves Steelers rule
- Steelers submit application to play host to Super Bowl in 2023
- Australians rule punting competition for chance to play for Steelers
- Offseason training helping to accelerate adjustment to NFL life
- Rossi: Moats looks to make a splash with Steelers
- Steelers to honor Bettis with ring ceremony in October
- Steelers notebook: Line coach wants strong run defense
- Steelers CB Allen working to regain form, make an impact