PRO 2022 Rookie Spotlight: Calvin Austin III, WR Memphis

Rookie Spotlight: Calvin Austin III, Memphis (Photo via Memphis Athletic Department)
Height: 5-8
Weight: 173
Hands: 9 1/8″
Arm: 30 5/8″
40 yard dash: 4.32
NFL Comparison: Rondale Moore, Elijah Moore, TY Hilton

College Production (Final Season)
28% team receptions
32% team receiving yards
31% team receiving TDs

Breakout Age: 21

-may be the fastest WR in the draft
-shifty with the ball in his hands
-calculated route runner
-sticky hands
-can actually block
-extremely explosive
-terrific week at the Senior Bowl

-may be too small to play a comprehensive receiver role
-Hasn’t faced much top-tier competition

Scouting Notes:
Let’s go ahead and get this part out of the way, yes, Austin weighs 162 lbs. It’s a fact that’s not lost on anyone evaluating him. That being said, there’s much to like about Austin’s game. First off, he runs like he’s been shot out of a cannon on field, full of explosion and vigor. He’s rumored to run in the low 4.3s, which would put him near the top of his class if not the fastest 40 we’ll see out of a WR in the draft this year. In addition to his speed, Austin possesses rare agility and is extremely shifty with the ball in his hands. He makes guys miss with his nimble footwork and uncanny ability to maneuver his body around. But Austin isn’t just a great athlete, he’s also a calculated route runner who can span the route tree. He’s not exclusively a deep threat, though he’s a superb example of one, and he can do a lot with short to intermediary throws as well. He may not have a massive wingspan, but Austin can snatch pretty much anything that comes into his vicinity, and he knows how to create separation to get open enough that there doesn’t need to be a wide margin for error for the QB. What might be most impressive about Austin, considering his stature, is that he is a functional blocker – He’s small but relatively powerful.

Fantasy Outlook:
Austin’s size issue is going to drop him down some draft boards immediately, And that’s understandable. There aren’t many success stories for players of his stature, and it seems like Austin — barring some sort of miracle set of workouts at the offseason events — will be a dynasty asset worth taking only later fliers on. What we’ll need to see at the Senior Bowl is a consistent production against high-level corners. If Austin can show that he can continually create separation against the guys he’ll be potentially facing in the pros, he’ll silence a lot of doubters, but that would be a truly outlier outcome. I expect him to test very well at the Combine, otherwise. If Austin can take that production to the NFL, where he’ll probably play out of the slot, he could develop into a PPR boon with some level of upside. It may take him some time to get there though, as he’ll probably start on special teams initially.

UPDATE: Calvin Austin had an amazing week of Senior Bowl practices, coming in shorter, but also a little thicker than we expected. He was impossible to guard in one-on-ones to all quadrants of the field and was one of the week’s highlights. While concerns remain about his size from our initial report, no longer see him as only a gadget and special teams-type option. He’s the real deal at WR and is likely to produce if given the opportunity in a good offense.

From the Memphis Athletic Department:

• 2021 First-Team All-AAC
• 2021 First-Team All-AAC (Phil Steele)
• 2021 Third-Team All-AAC (Returner; Phil Steele)
• 2020 First-Team All-AAC
• Tiger 3.0 Club (2021, 2019, 2017)

Track and Field
• 2019 U.S. Track and Field/Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) All-America second team (4x100m relay)
• 2019 All-American Athletic Conference (4x100m relay)
• 2018 USTFCCCA All-America honorable mention (4x400m relay)
• 2018 All-American Athletic Conference four times (Indoor 200m, 4x400m relay; Outdoor 4x100m relay, 4x400m relay)

2021 (Redshirt Senior)
• Reese’s Senior Bowl Invitee
• Burlsworth Trophy Semifinalist
• East-West Shrine Bowl Invitee
• AAC Honor Roll (Tulsa)
• AAC Special Teams Player of the Week (Mississippi State)
• The Athletic National Offensive Player of the Week (Arkansas State)
• AAC Offensive Player of the Week (Arkansas State)
• CFPA National Player of the Week, Honorable Mention (Arkansas State)
• Maxwell Award Preseason Watch List
• Biletnikoff Award Preseason Watch List
• Reese’s Senior Bowl Watch List

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