By Ryan Alfieri, Editor
West Virginia’s Tavon Austin is one of the most exciting players to enter the 2013 NFL draft. Austin is an incredible athlete with rare change-of-direction skills that make him an ideal slot receiver, especially considering his relatively short stature at 5’7.
He is also a terrific returner and also lines up in the backfield. Simply put, Austin is the most dangerous man in college football with the ball in hands in the open field and would be a great asset to the Jets offense. But how do the Jets go about drafting him?
Because of his size limitations, Austin is projected to be selected somewhere in the bottom of the first round, but I expect his stock to steadily rise as the draft process wears on.
For a Jets team that is as deficient on the offensive skill positions as they are, looking at every offensive weapon in the draft as a possible option in a no-brainer. But is Austin good enough to warrant sacrificing other picks, especially considering that Jeremy Kerley has established himself as a very good slot receiver?
First, forget the notion that Austin can only line up in the slot at the NFL level. Look at the impact players like Percy Harvin has had in Minnesota. In terms of skill-set and versatility, he is arguably the most important player to that offense, with perhaps the exception to Adrian Peterson.
An offense as stagnant as the Jets could certainly use a player like Austin, but at what cost?
Taking a slot receiver with the 10th or 15th pick is a bit early, especially when the Jets already have one. However, they could trade back up into the first round and snag him, just like the Bucs traded back up to nab Doug Martin last year.
However, depth is also a huge problem for the Jets right now. Trading up is going to cost a few valuable picks that the Jets need more than ever.
Of course, trading down is an option or even ideal, as it gives the Jets more opportunities to add depth. However, there is no guarantee that there will be a trade partner at the point in the draft. If the Jets want Austin, they will have to either take him earlier than projected to trade back up to nab him.
As a result, while Austin is a very talented player, the Jets have more needs at the outside receiver position, among other spots, before they can use a “luxury pick” on an offensive toy whose snaps will be limited with Jeremy Kerley playing as well as he has.