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2022 NFL Draft: Scouting Roundup on Steelers wide receiver Calvin Austin III

Looking at the pre-draft evaluation of the Steelers 4th round pick.

NFL: Scouting Combine Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

With the 138th pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers selected wide receiver Calvin Austin III from Memphis.

Here’s what was being said about Austin before the Steelers selected him in the third round.


Joe Marino for The Draft Network

The Good

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.

The Bad

When it comes to areas of concern, it comes back to his size. Austin is an undersized receiver that doesn’t offer much length.

The Verdict

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.


Ian Cummings for Pro Football Network

The Good

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.

The Bad

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.

The Verdict

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.


Ryland B. for Behind the Steel Curtain

The Good

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.

The Bad

Size is still a major issue

The Verdict

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.


Reality Check

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.


Summary

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.