Notre Dame WR Kevin Austin Jr. was one of the biggest 2022 NFL Draft risers after the Scouting Combine, but how does his scouting report compare to his testing numbers? Austin is an intriguing talent, but it’s a challenging exercise to figure out where he fits in a stacked WR class.
Kevin Austin Jr. NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Wide Receiver
- School: Notre Dame
- Current Year: Redshirt Junior
- Height: 6’2 3/8″
- Weight: 200 pounds
- Wingspan: 79 1/4″
- Length: 32 7/8″
- Hand: 9″
Kevin Austin Jr. Scouting Report
Notre Dame’s passing offense hasn’t been a WR-friendly unit for a few years now. Nevertheless, talent remains present every year. This past season, Austin was the team’s premier receiving threat. Although tight end Michael Mayer had far more receptions, Austin led the team in receiving yards.
Austin was a playmaker at the collegiate level, but how does his skill set translate to the NFL? Will insertion into an NFL offense help give him more quality targets and magnify his production? Or will he struggle to translate against NFL defenders? That’s what we’re here to figure out.
Austin’s athletic profile
Austin is a supreme athletic talent, and his NFL Combine showing confirmed that. At 6’2 3/8″, 200 pounds, with long 33-inch arms, Austin ran a 4.43 40-yard dash. He also had elite explosiveness numbers with a 39-inch vertical and a 132-inch broad jump, and he capped it off with a searing 6.71 three-cone time. Austin earned a Relative Athletic Score (RAS) of 9.89, and his elite athletic upside is visible on tape.
Austin is an explosive athlete with great burst off the line of scrimmage. He’s an easy accelerator in the open field. With his quick acceleration, Austin can surge through open lanes and rack up yards after the catch. He’s also a deep threat, as he has the speed and explosiveness to stack DBs downfield. With his burst, he can separate quickly on slants, and he has the speed to maintain separation after breaks.
In addition to his speed and explosiveness, Austin flashes decent hip sink for his size, especially on lighter breaks. He can load up and explode out of route breaks. Moreover, Austin is twitchy and energetic at the line. He can use quick jab steps to make DBs lurch. And in the open field, the Notre Dame WR — even with a long, strong frame — can levy devastatingly quick cuts to elude defenders.
Execution beyond the physical traits
Athletically, Austin checks plenty of boxes. And operationally, he shows promise in quite a few areas. Austin’s physicality is what stands out most. The Notre Dame WR has the physicality to beat press and compound separation at his stems. He uses fast, violent hands to combat jams at the line, and he’s also a physical blocker who proactively uses his length to drive into defenders.
As a route runner, Austin has some measured ability. He flashes the ability to plant and drive at his stems, and he can also use quick head fakes to freeze DBs. At times, he shows glimpses of good quickness on hitch routes. While he can be more consistent overall, he’s proven he can chop his feet on transitions. Moreover, the Notre Dame WR can use his twitch to execute crisp double-moves down the field.
Going further, Austin has good awareness. He’s shown he can press upfield just enough to deceive DBs, then manipulate blind spots. He can also sneak into blind spots with his speed and explode into open zones. At the catch point, Austin flashes the ability to track the ball downfield and corral it in stride, even when crowded. He also has a wide catch radius, and he’s shown he can guide the ball in with his hands.
Lastly, Austin is fairly versatile. The Notre Dame WR can be used as a big slot or on the boundary.
Areas for improvement
A lot of Austin’s issues derive from consistency. Especially as a route runner and at the catch point, there’s still work to do. Austin can be a little stiff as a route runner with his high-cut frame. While his hip sink is decent, it’s not elite. He sometimes needs space to gather himself and gear down, and he can’t always sustain explosiveness out of direction changes.
Moving onward, Austin can more consistently plant and drive on transitions. When he doesn’t do this, he’s less sudden and efficient. He doesn’t always play to his full capacity as a route runner, and he sometimes relies too much on his physicality to separate. The Notre Dame WR can be reckless and uncontrolled, and he could draw push-off calls at the next level.
Overall, Austin can expand his route tree. He can run go-routes, slants, posts, and outs, as well as hitches. But these routes sometimes lack precision and sharpness. Additionally, he needs work at the catch point. He flashes instincts, but the Notre Dame WR’s hands can be stronger. He isn’t always authoritative through contact, and he sometimes allows the ball to be jarred out at the end of the catch process.
Austin’s coordination is streaky, and for a player with his length, he resorts to body catching too often. He doesn’t have elite contact balance, and he sometimes fails to sustain blocks on running reps, sacrificing leverage with over-aggression.
Austin’s 2022 NFL Draft scouting report overview
Austin is a fun player. It’s exciting to think about what he can become in the right system. At Notre Dame, he didn’t always run a full route tree. He didn’t always see quality targets come his way. And he wasn’t used to his full potential as a run-after-catch threat. There’s a great deal of upside with Austin, as his Combine numbers show.
Austin is an explosive, twitchy player for his 6’2 3/8″, 200-pound frame. He also offers great length with near-33-inch arms, and he has a wide catch radius that helps him downfield. With his speed and explosiveness, he’s a venerable deep threat, and he has the length, body control, and ball-tracking ability to be a mismatch for defensive backs. Meanwhile, in the short range, Austin’s combination of burst and agility can be just as dangerous.
There are some qualms with Austin. His hip sink, while decent, isn’t elite. He’s a little stiff as a route runner. He also struggles with hand coordination at the catch point. He’s not elite at fighting through contact, and the ball can be wrenched from his grasp relatively easily. Austin will have to find more consistency with his hands and separation at the next level.
Nevertheless, Austin has tools worth investing in. With his speed and explosiveness alone, he can be a dangerous big slot in the middle of the field. He has a functional route tree, even if it’s not expansive. And he can get RAC yards. Austin has the unteachable traits in spades, and he’s worth a mid-round pick as an immediate rotational spark-plug with starting upside.
Austin’s Player Profile
Notre Dame has long been a magnet for high-level high school talent. Austin found himself drawn to the Fighting Irish for that reason. A product of North Broward Prep in Coconut Creek, Florida, Austin caught 76 passes for 1,782 yards and 23 touchdowns in his final two years. His stellar production earned him a four-star recruit billing in the 2018 class.
Ranked as the 86th overall player in the entire class, Austin had offers from schools like Clemson, Michigan, Ohio State, and Florida, among others. He was recruited as early as 2015 but didn’t commit until August of 2017. By then, he’d made his decision: He’d be heading to South Bend to team up with Notre Dame.
Austin’s career at Notre Dame
If it feels like Austin came out of nowhere in 2021, it’s because he did. The Notre Dame WR only caught 5 passes for 90 yards in his freshman season. He was due for an increased role in 2019. However, a suspension for a violation of team rules would take him out for the entire 2019 campaign. In good standing academically, Austin remained enrolled at Notre Dame and came back in 2020 to rejoin the offense.
Unfortunately for Austin, 2020 was another year of few opportunities — for different reasons. He injured his foot late in the summer and missed the first two games. He came back in early October but re-injured his foot and missed the remainder of the season. All this came after Austin caught just a single pass for 18 yards.
Austin came into 2021 with just 6 career catches to his name. But an opportunity finally arose for Austin, and he took advantage of it. The Notre Dame WR hauled in 48 catches for 888 yards and 7 touchdowns, averaging 18.5 yards per catch. In a callback to his high school days, Austin thrived as a dynamic deep threat and became a crucial part of Notre Dame’s offense.
Austin’s NFL Draft ascension
Austin’s breakout came late, but it did wonders for his draft stock when he finally came. There’s a good chance Austin remains a Day 3 pick, even after his NFL Combine performance. But the upside is there, in large enough quantities for interest to be plentiful. Austin’s explosive ability downfield is his calling card, but he offers potential in other phases as well.
Austin’s size is unique, and it’ll be a deciding factor for certain teams. At 6’2 3/8″, with a dense 200-pound frame and 33-inch arms, Austin has the compact build and length to be a handful for defensive backs. And his tenacious physicality only adds to that. If Austin can work on sinking his hips more and improving his coordination and consistency at the catch point, he could go on to be a stellar offensive catalyst.