The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2022 NFL Draft has concluded, and with the seven new players on the roster fans are getting to know these new members of the black and gold. First round pick Kenny Pickett certainly is garnering a lot attention, but he isn’t the only player drafted who is considered to be a tremendous pick with upside.
In fact, ESPN recently ran an article where they asked Power 5 coaches and coordinators several questions about the recent draft, and one of those questions was who they would consider to be a “sleeper” pick. In case you don’t know, a “sleeper” pick is someone who might not have received a lot of attention prior to the draft, but garners a massive amount of value when they were selected.
A player who was mentioned and was drafted by Pittsburgh was none other than Calvin Austin III in the 4th Round. Here is what ESPN had to say about the selection:
Austin had consecutive seasons with at least 1,000 receiving yards and one punt return touchdown.
“He’s little but he is so dynamic,” an AAC defensive coordinator said of the 5-foot-9, 162-pound Austin. “His catch radius is really good for his size. He can do so many things, and he’s legit, legit fast. Since Tyreek Hill and those guys have been doing some damage, a guy like him might.”
5’9” might be generous for the smaller receiver out of Memphis, but his overall potential within Matt Canada’s offense is tough to ignore. Austin’s sub-4.4 speed in the 40-yard dash is one thing, but when you see him on the field his speed is undeniable.
Haven’t seen it for yourself yet? Check the video below:
The thing about Austin’s game is he isn’t just a one-trick pony, as Mike Tomlin famously called Mike Wallace as a rookie out of Ole Miss. He is an accomplished route runner, can carry the ball out of the backfield, run jet sweeps and even has returner capabilities.
If the Steelers, and Matt Canada, are smart, they will scheme ways to get Austin the football in space and let him use his speed to make defenses pay. Unlike when the team drafted the likes of Chris Rainey and/or Dri Archer, there are plenty of examples in the NFL of smaller players doing damage. Look no further than now Miami Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill and what he used to do with the Kansas City Chiefs.
I’m not about to suggest Austin is the next Hill, especially as a rookie, but the Chiefs’ ability to get Hill open in space was what made him so tough to stop. The same can be said about Austin as he begins his journey as a professional.
What do you think about the Steelers’ pick of Austin? Do you see him as a diamond in the rough, or Dri Archer 2.0? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the rest of the offseason.