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Tavon Austin a combine star but not a fit at No. 12

Me and some of my followers on twitter [Yeah, terrible grammar] got into a bit of a spat Sunday afternoon because I believe NFL teams are best served drafting football players and they apparently are enthralled with the idea of drafting 40-yard dash times.

And so we have a minor disagreement on Tavon Austin, the West Virginia speedster.

Austin is a sprite. He ran a 4.34 official time at the combine Sunday and, I admit, he was a fine playmaker at West Virginia last year.

Austin also came to the combine with his confidence at full throat as he told the media in a press conference "“Pound for pound I am the best all-around player in the NFL Draft."

Well, I don't see the best pound for pound player in the draft as a value as a Top 10 pick, as some fans are suggesting and not even a No. 12 pick where the Dolphins will select in the first round of next April's draft.

Yes, Austin has the stats. (I love guys with the production). Yes, he has the speed. (I love speed). But he's tiny at 5-9 and 178 pounds. (I don't love guys that size at No. 12).

Yes, I would love Austin on my team. Yes, I would take him in the second round.

But in the first? At No. 12?

No thanks.

I don't take guys shorter than some girls I once dated at No. 12. 

Again, I really love Austin as a player but I simply don't see the value in him that high.

Why?

Well, when you measure a player's critical factors one thing you must measure is durability. And I'm not sure a player that smallish who will be asked to go into the teeth of a defense as a slot player will be durable enough to answer the call every Sunday.

And you hence must add that worry to the usual ones about whether he can adjust to your system, and whether he's got the instincts, and can deal with the speed of the game and can handle his business off the field.

Again, that doesn't mean I don't respect Austin's talents. He can be electric on the field. What he did to Oklahoma last year was jaw-dropping.

But there have been other grand talents come into the NFL in small packages and struggle because of their size -- Bob Sanders comes to mind. He was amazing for a couple of years and then the fact he was crashing into men who were bigger and outweighed him by 40 to 100 pounds caught up with him.

You have to find a great balance with talents such as Austin's to make a thoughtful decision on where he should be drafted. Maybe he's going to be a fine player like Darren Sproles. Well, Sproles was drafted in the fourth round.

Maybe he's going to a "matchup nightmare," as NFL Network's Mike Mayock said, playing the slot receiver position. Maybe he's going to be like Wes Welker. Well, Welker went undrafted.

Maybe he'll play forever like another smallish but freakishly fast player -- cornerback Darrell Green -- did for the Washington Redskins years ago. Well, maybe, but Green was drafted at the bottom of the first round, not near the top.

Do you see the point?

If the Dolphins fall in love with Austin I would expect them to show that love after a major trade-down from No. 12. Or maybe with a second round pick.

But even this comes with a warning:

Miami GM Jeff Ireland comes from the general manager school of prototypical players. He was taught by his mentor Bill Parcells to pick prototype players that have the height, weight and look the part of bigtime NFL players. That school of thought leaves little room for dumplings like Austin.

For Ireland to consider Austin in any round would be a departure from what he's been taught.

And even if the Miami GM can loose himself from the bonds of his mentor, in my humble opinion, for Ireland to consider Austin at No. 12 would be a mistake.

 

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