Entering the 2022 NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers had a number of draft needs they needed to address. Unlike in 2021, where the decreased salary cap caused the team to lean on their rookies early, the Steelers possessed a full allotment of draft picks without any glaring needs on their roster.
With seven total picks, the following positions could be viewed as a priority entering the selection process: quarterback, safety, offensive tackle, pass rusher, wide receiver and even inside linebacker. Those positions, and more, were positions of need to help the black-and-gold get to the next level in 2022. There have been numerous thoughts and debates regarding what the team will do in Round 1 of the NFL Draft.
Friday night the Steelers selected Kenny Pickett with the 20th overall pick out of the University of Pittsburgh, so the need at quarterback was off the board. With their first pick on Day 2, the Steelers took George Pickens, wide receiver from Georgia, which took the pass catcher off the team need list.
On Day 2, Round 3, when the dust settled, the Steelers selected Texas A&M defender DeMarvin Leal, with their third pick in the draft.
Heading into Day 3, the Steelers still had needs to meet and their 4th round pick of Memphis wide receiver Calvin Austin helped answer some of those questions at the slot wide receiver position.
Breaking: #Steelers picking Memphis WR Calvin Austin, per source.— Jordan Schultz (@Schultz_Report) April 30, 2022
Austin is a player who isn’t big, but extremely versatile. He can both run with the football, as well as catch the ball and use his sub 4.4 40-yard dash speed to make plays happen.
For those who want to know more about Austin, here is what the BTSC Big Board had on the former Memphis receiver:
Ryland B.: Austin has literal track speed, and it translates into explosive plays on the football field. Austin is a smooth athlete, lighting-fast accelerator, and a great route-runner. He has quickness to make defensive backs look silly and the speed to run past a secondary. Despite his diminutive size, he has a great release with urgent footwork and violent hands. But size is still a major issue. Austin’s 5’9” frame just doesn’t have an elite catch radius despite his good hands, and at 162 pounds he doesn’t pack much physicality after the catch although he plays with good effort. Austin’s 4.3 speed makes him an intriguing NFL prospect, but his size may result in him only finding a gadget role in an NFL offense.
For a scouting report on Austin, here is an in-depth analysis per NFL.com:
Productive playmaker with below-average size but above-average heart. Austin is below the acceptable size standards many teams have at wide receiver, but he is fearless, versatile and fast. He has proven he can handle the catch-and-run duties necessary in Memphis’ quick game. He has the rapid-fire foot quickness and loose hips to take on a more complex route tree as an NFL slot target. His lack of size shows up in contested catch battles so he will need to fine-tune the route-running to improve his catch windows. Austin’s ability to work all three levels of the field and handle punt-return duties increases his odds of becoming a Day 3 pick.
- Posted back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons.
- Quick stem and release versus press.
- Feet are fluid and fast throughout the route.
- Gliding speed surprises the coverage.
- Impressive break-and-open to shake coverage on deep comebacks.
- Loose hips to elude coverage on short-area routes.
- Reads the defense in scramble situations and finds open grass.
- Does not play with fear despite his size.
- Speed to eliminate tackle angles after the catch.
- Jitter-and-go punt return talent.
- Diminutive target.
- Can be knocked off route path by physical coverage.
- Badly beaten when competing for 50-50 throws.
- Needs to create a cleaner catch window as a pro.
- Inconsistent selling his vertical push off the snap.
- Quickly tackled with modest effort by defenders.
- Bad habit of fielding punts inside the 5-yard line.
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