Here’s what was being said about Austin before the Steelers selected him in the third round.
Austin is an explosive athlete that can take the top off the defense but is also lethal with the ball in his hands. His skill set demands touches in the quick passing game, on handoffs, and in the vertical passing game.
Austin isn’t just a speedster, he is a nuanced receiver that runs great routes, has terrific hands, and has excellent ball skills. He features a diverse release package where he uses foot-fire, angles, and twitch to get off the line and into his routes.
When it comes to areas of concern, it comes back to his size. Austin is an undersized receiver that doesn’t offer much length.
He has the makings of an electric top-three option for an NFL passing game that can also contribute in gadgety ways and as a punt returner. He will make an NFL team more explosive, but there are some limitations to be mindful of because of his frame.
Austin’s athletic profile is incredibly enticing, but his refinement and calculated approach take him a step above the average speed receiver. He has always shown flashes of route-running prowess, but Austin noticeably improved his attention to detail as a technician in 2021.
As a receiver, Austin doesn’t have the size to consistently fight through contact at the stem. More physical defenders can delay and muddy his breaks. Additionally, Austin’s frame naturally limits his catch radius in situations where he has to extend. He doesn’t box out defenders well and can be draped by larger defensive backs.
Austin’s size will be a fierce mitigating factor for his upside as an NFL Draft prospect. But even taking that into account, the ceiling is high for a player like Austin.
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.
Size is still a major issue
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.
Okay, seriously, I tried. I tried to find meaningful analysis of Calvin Austin III that didn’t just state that he’s essentially a perfect receiver. . . but he’s small. But really, that’s all there is out there. Basically Calvin Austin III can be summed up by a tweet I put out jokingly right after the draft.
If you put the traits Calvin Austin III shows in a 5’10” receiver’s body, he’d be a top 5 pick. He’s a game wrecker with the ball in his hands, he’s a really good route runner, he’s not afraid to get physical.
He’s just small. Too small for the NFL. And I’m absolutely certain Mike Tomlin will be reminding him of that every practice of his Steelers career.
To be honest, at 5’7” he shouldn’t be able to make a successful career as an NFL receiver. But the Steelers aren’t betting against him, and neither am I.