Calvin Austin III - WR - Memphis
Welcome to the rookie profile for Calvin Austin III. Austin is a speed demon and creates incredible separation whilst showcasing good hands and concentration. Since 2020 he is first amongst AAC wide receivers racking up over 2,000 reception yards, hauling in 137 catches for 19 touchdowns. In the Senior Bowl, he impressed showing incredible bursts of speed and his natural ability to eat the cushion while recording the fastest GPS max speed of any offensive prospect.
Height: 5′ 8″
Weight: 170 lbs
40-yard dash: 4.32s
3-cone drill: DNP
20-yard shuttle: 4.07s
Vertical Jump: 39″
Broad Jump: 135″
Bench Press: DNP
Austin III was a versatile weapon throughout his high school career for Harding Academy, Memphis. He put up 49 touchdowns (32 on offense, 11 on special teams, and 6 on defense) however, despite having 1,513 reception yards and rushing for over 500 yards he was an unrecruited prospect in the class of 2017, receiving no Division I offers.
Austin III joined Memphis however he redshirted his freshman year whilst he acclimatized to collegiate football, only recording 2 receptions for 24 yards and a rush for 83 yards and a touchdown. Whilst he barely featured for the football team he continued to show promise as a track star as he qualified for the NCAA Outdoor Championships as part of the 4×400 relay team and helped set the relay record at the conference championships.
In the following season, once again nothing to get excited about as he hauled in 17 receptions in nine games for 315 yards and three touchdowns. He also had four rush attempts for three yards and a touchdown. He continued to flourish on the track though as he finished seventh in the 60-meter dash and finished sixth in the 200-yard sprint at the American Athletic Indoor Championships.
Finally in the shortened 2020 season, we saw a breakout year from Austin as he started all 11 games for Memphis. He hauled in 63 receptions for 1,053 yards, 11 touchdowns, and two rush attempts for 14 yards. He was also used on the special teams unit as a kick returner as he produced 20 returns for 188 yards and a touchdown. Austin scored a touchdown in the 2020 Montgomery Bowl as Memphis Tigers beat the Florida Atlantic Owls 25-10. A successful breakout season saw Austin receive First Team All-AAC honors.
As a pre-season watchlist candidate for the Maxwell Award and the Biletnikoff Award, Austin III continued to build on his breakout year as he started all 12 games for the Tigers in 2021. He hauled in a career-high 74 receptions and produced a career-high 1,149 yards whilst scoring eight touchdowns. He also had one rush attempt for 69 yards and a touchdown. Once again, he was used in the returns team and had 5 returns for 135 yards (27.0 yards per attempt) and a touchdown. For a second consecutive season, Austin III received First Team All-AAC honors.
Speed Speed Speed… Austin III has a genuine Olympic level of speed and is the fastest player in the class. In the combine, expect him to hit the 4.2s in the forty sprints and move up draft boards. Similarly, to what we’ve seen from Kansas City Chiefs superstar receiver Tyreek Hill, they both have incredible levels of speed to burn. But they are both calculated and refined route runners – for Austin III in this past season he’s improved his route running technicalities in a big way. For instance, recently at the Reese’s Senior Bowl, he showcased NFL-style slot routes, something we rarely saw from his time in Memphis, but with his quickness and change of direction, he creates instant separation.
One of Austin’s best assets is gaining yards after the catch, as he can move up another gear when he hits the open field. If he can find a Quarterback that can throw to him whilst he’s in stride, he will be lethal.
Austin has all of the skills to become one of the best offensive weapons in the NFL but there is one slight concern: his size. Standing at 5’9 and weighing just over 160lbs, unless he puts on some extra weight in the off-season this may put a dampener on any aspirations he may have on becoming an instant starter in the league. For a guy of his size, he would be a perfect slot receiver which he demonstrated recently at the Reece’s Senior Bowl. But until he puts on extra weight he will become somewhat of a liability when taking big hits.
His size and frame limit other parts of his game such as his catch radius and a lack of physicality in the contested catch. Don’t get me wrong his speed will get him out of trouble but whilst he is electric, he has short strides which gives those defenders who are more athletic with a longer stride a chance to chase him down.
Pre Draft Analysis
Expected Draft Capital- Round 3
It’s no secret that the Indianapolis Colts will be eyeing up a wide receiver in the draft. And after the recent Senior Bowl combine Austin III caught their attention with an impressive outing. T.Y. Hilton will also be on the free agency market this off-season, Austin III’s pro comparison in my opinion is T.Y. Hilton – it just makes sense for the Colts.
The Colts had a nice year from Michael Pittman Jr. but they didn’t get much from the rest of their wide receiver core. Austin III would be a great addition as their slot receiver and would more than likely be a day one starter in this role. His size may be a concern but his speed is too impressive to ignore. I give you exhibit A – Tyreek Hill, a fifth-round selection for the Kansas City Chiefs back in 2016, now he’s one of the best receivers in the NFL. Austin III is very similar in size and speed to Hill and could genuinely be the steal of the 2022 draft.
Post Draft Analysis
Pittsburgh Steelers- Round 4, Pick 138
This is one that disappointed me. I am a huge fan of Calvin Austin however this landing spot is not a good one for him whatsoever as he sits quite far down on the depth chart. It’s likely that we won’t see much of him this year apart from on special teams.
On the other hand, Calvin Austin’s insane speed and impressive catch radius for a guy of his size could see him become the Steelers version of Tyreek Hill. In rookie drafts, it’s well worth taking a punt on him late second round onwards. A great dart throw for a player who could have a chance to break out, especially if one of their receivers goes down early or their other rookie pick from the draft, George Pickens, fails to impress early on in the slot receiver position.