Tavon Austin could fill a lot of roles for the Detroit Lions

Posted Feb 22, 2013

Tavon Austin's abilities running, catching and returning could make him an attractive prospect for the Detroit Lions

INDIANAPOLIS-- The Detroit Lions' needs heading into free agency and the draft have been well documented.

There’s no quicker way to fill some of those needs than finding players who can fill a multitude of roles. NFL general managers are always on the lookout for that kind of talent.

That’s where West Virginia’s Tavon Austin fits into the grand scheme of the NFL Draft. The 5-foot-8, 174-pound Austin just might be the most explosive player coming out.

Did anyone catch the game Austin had against Oklahoma this past season?

He went for 572 all-purpose yards, 344 of which were rushing, and scored twice. He showed unbelievable quickness and vision and the unique ability to stop and start on a dime. Those are the same skills that make him the best return man in the draft, too.

“I think I am the all-around best player in the draft,” Austin told reporters Friday down at the NFL Scouting Combine. “A lot of teams are looking for the type of player who can do multiple things and I think I’m that guy.”

In his senior season at West Virginia last year, Austin caught 114 passes for 1,289 yards and 12 touchdowns, ran the ball 72 times for 643 yards and three touchdowns, returned 15 punts for 165 yards and one touchdown, and returned 33 kickoffs for 813 yards and a score.

The Lions could use more of all of the above.

Tavon Austin“I can’t say I can line up (as a running back) every play, but hopefully I get in there on third down and get a screen play or a couple plays up the middle. I think I can get it done,” he said.

Austin also said his return skills should make him more attractive to teams, too.

“I think it can help me a lot,” he said. “It’s one of my specialties. I take pride in punt return and kick return.

“There’s two things I want to show the scouts (down here at the Combine) – that I’m strong and (I want to) clock a good time in the 40-yard dash.”

Austin said a good 40-yard time for him would be anything under 4.4 seconds. He said the fastest he’s ever been clocked is 4.29.

He was also hoping to bench press 225 pounds 15 times, proving he’s stronger than some would think at 174 pounds.

When it comes to the Lions' needs, Austin seems to be a fit.

--The Lions are looking for a speed element out of their backfield with the uncertain future of Jahvid Best.

--They’ve expressed an interest in a receiver who can stretch the field opposite Calvin Johnson.

--They could also use both a punt and kickoff returner with Stefan Logan headed for free agency.

Austin, who’s considered a late-first-round to early-second-round pick at this early stage of the process, looks like a player who can fill a lot of those hats in Detroit.