If you don’t yet know this name in the 2023 NFL Draft, it’s time to get to know it. Oregon State CB Alex Austin is one of the biggest sleepers in the 2023 CB group, and he has the tools to exceed his draft billing and become a major contributor at the next level.
Alex Austin NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Cornerback
- School: Oregon State
- Current Year: Redshirt Junior
- Height/Weight: 6’1″, 192 pounds
- Length: TBD
- Wingspan: TBD
- Hand: TBD
Whenever a prospect declares early, they need a compelling case to earn draftable consideration. It gets lost just how many players enter the draft pool each year. Less than 300 are selected, and over twice that amount fall into the UDFA pool.
Declaring early isn’t a decision to take lightly. And while he hasn’t received a ton of buzz to this point, it says something that Austin declared early and received an invite to the NFL Combine.
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Austin has come a long way since arriving at Oregon State as a three-star recruit in the 2019 cycle. After redshirting in 2019, he started five of seven games in 2020 and then became a full-time starter in 2021.
For two straight seasons, Austin earned All-Pac-12 honorable mention recognition, first recording two picks and seven deflections in 2021, and then adding two more picks and 10 additional pass breakups in 2022.
He’s young. He has the production. But after watching the tape, how does Austin project?
Alex Austin Scouting Report
- Streamlined cornerback with great length and weight distribution at 6’1″, 192 pounds.
- Hyper-fluid mover at his size, who can instantly swivel and recover to match receivers.
- Has elite short-area twitch and foot speed for his size, freely throttling up and down.
- Seamlessly explodes upfield after unhinging and has the long speed to avoid stacks.
- Carries an overwhelming blend of short-area freedom and reaction to stimulus in man.
- Snappy, energized athlete who can abruptly align hips and ramp up feet with little delay.
- Has shown he can use disciplined technique and employ inch resets to tempo upfield.
- Tight and efficient on his backpedal, with great balance and wicked-quick feet.
- Flashes good blind-spot awareness in zone, flipping around to avoid losing leverage.
- Physical competitor who flashes excellent body control and ball skills at the catch.
Areas for Improvement
- Explosive capacity downhill, while very good, is not quite elite.
- Doesn’t quite have elite recovery speed when closing gaps on comeback routes.
- At times, can be a bit late to react and trigger on route breaks in zone.
- Can be baited into opening his hips and halting his feet by double-moves.
- Sometimes tugs at stems to compensate for late hip transitions.
- At times, can be a bit too tall and segmented tracking downfield in zone.
- Sometimes lacks control with his feet in run support and easily drifts upfield.
- Not naturally disruptive in run support and can be too passive with positioning.
Oregon State CB Alex Austin Current Draft Projection
Austin isn’t a household name in the stacked 2023 NFL Draft CB class, but he’s a top-75 prospect on my board, and one of the many cornerbacks worthy of Day 2 consideration. While both he and Rejzohn Wright are strong prospects, Austin has a higher grade and a higher ceiling at the NFL level.
At 6’1″, 192 pounds, Austin has great size and length, without the drawbacks that often come at that size. In spite of his streamlined frame, he’s extremely flexible and freely moving as an athlete, with a phenomenal combination of foot speed, hip fluidity, and snappy corrective athleticism.
With his enticing brand of mobility, Austin naturally uses his feet first, to mirror and smother receivers in press-man and off-man. After matching releases, he has the length and physicality to squeeze opponents against the sideline. When the ball comes his way, he has the body control and disruption radius to make a play.
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Along with his mobility, Austin brings very exciting technical quirks. He’s shown to tempo his footwork and use an inch reset to gather receivers as they head upfield. He’s patient and disciplined, but also very quick to react.
In zone, Austin’s reaction quickness is a bit more inconsistent, and his tendency to drift too far upright can, at times, cause delays with hip transitions. Thus, in the immediate timeline, he may be better in more man-dominant schemes. However, Austin’s size and explosiveness translate well in zone, and he’s shown he can pass off and carry receivers.
Ultimately, Austin is a high-upside CB prospect with all the necessary tools — length, fluidity, short-area athleticism, rare malleability, burst, and physicality — to be a sticky cover man at the next level and an impact starter for a defense.