WV wideout Tavon Austin: 'If Welker can do it, I can do it'

WV wideout Tavon Austin: 'If Welker can do it, I can do it'
February 22, 2013, 2:00 pm
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INDIANAPOLIS, IN -- As Wes Welker enters yet another free agency period clouded by uncertainty, names of potential replacements are floating around New England. Tavon Austin, a wide receiver out of West Virginia, is one of them.

Austin is okay with that.

"Wes Welker is the No. 1 guy," he said Friday at the NFL scouting combine. "I see how Wes do it. I've watched a lot of tape on him. I think I'm a little bit quicker and faster than Wes, so I know if he can do it, I can do it too."

He's not kidding. Where Welker, who went undrafted, has called the combine "a waste of time," Austin is only too happy to show off.

"There's two things I want to show the scouts. I want to show the scouts that I'm strong and [I want to run] the 40."

Austin says his fastest dash clocked in at 4.29 seconds. That time is just .05 seconds shy of the fastest in combine history.

His speed has been hyped. It might be overhyped. But at 5-8, he can only ride that wave.

Austin said quickness is essential to beating bigger defensive backs -- something he's asked about constantly. He also addresses size concerns by promising strength. He believes his 174-pounds pack a punch and help him stay upright after contact.

"I just take it and put it on my back. I'm a little guy but I play big. I'd like to be two inches taller," he smiled, "but it just ain't gonna happen."

He made it work well enough at the college level. Austin had 114 receptions for 1,289 yards and 12 touchdowns his senior season at WVU. He earned the 'versatility' tag by returning kicks and punts.

Ah, yes, special teams -- a skill New England covets.

Though Austin expressed the proper love for the game's third phase, it doesn't necessarily set him apart. And what could he add something to the Patriots offense that Shane Vereen, Danny Woodhead, and Jeff Demps can't? It might not be much, not enough to spend a first round pick.

But who knows. For now, Austin was absolutely right: Welker is the No. 1 guy.