In this Thursday's draft the Jets will have two of the first fifteen picks. With such an unpredictable draft and so many needs who the Jets pick is only guesswork, but if Tavon Austin, despite Wide Receiver not being a desperate need, is available at one of our picks we should not hesitate to pick him.
The chief complaint against Austin is his size. At 5'8" Austin would be the shortest player on the team, along with DB Ellis Lankster, and stands no taller than Actress Jennifer Lawrence, but could Austin survive the physicality of the Hunger Games? Despite Austin's small stature, he has no major injury history, and according to him, hasn't missed a game in eight years.
Many believe that with so many greater needs the Jets should pass on a receiver in the first round, but receiver is a much greater need than many people think. People place Receiver as a minor need because of the return of Holmes and the expected progression of Hill.
The problem, I see, with this thinking is that Holmes will be here for the next upcoming season but is expected to become a cap casualty during the next offseason, leaving our WR corps thin with just Kerley and Hill.
In addition, Holmes proved that he can't produce as the sole focus of opposing defenses; Although, Kerley has proven to be a great receiver he is not the deep threat Holmes needs across from him to succeed, and while Hill's speed is nothing to scoff at, his route running ability and hands don't have opposing defenders quaking in the their cleats. Austin might not be a big-bodied deep threat but he will draw some of the focus off of Holmes.
Also, I think it is irresponsible to pass on a player due to the expectation, ultimately hope, that a current player will make the large leaps in their development that Hill needs to make to be a good receiver. Hill shows lots of promise but doesn't have the current skill set to force us to be perfectly content at the position.
When I see Austin, I see Darrelle Revis.
I'm not saying Austin will turn out to be arguably the greatest to ever play his position; I'm saying that what Revis was to the defense, Austin could be to the offense.
Besides his skill, what made Revis so special was the ability for Rex to design an entire defense around him. Revis would handle the coverage of one receiver so well that double teams were unnecessary, opening up a free player to do as Rex pleased (By the way I hate having to write this in the past-tense) and either double a second receiver or blitz the QB. Rex was able to get away with exotic blitzes because of the way Revis allowed creativity on the defense. Austin could allow new offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, who has shown the propensity to design offenses around his personnel, to create his own equivalent to Rex's blitzes.
Adding Austin would give the Jets four competent receivers, which along with a lack of a starting caliber TE, could tempt Marty to use more Four-Wide sets and use a spread system which has grown popular among NFL teams. Spreading out the defense would help more than just Austin. If the Jets grab Chris Ivory to go along with Mike Goodson a spread might be the smarter route.
Typically to counter a spread, a team uses either a nickel or dime package, replacing the big linebackers with smaller defensive backs. The smaller defenders would bode well for Ivory's physical running style, and the spread out defense would play towards Goodson's quick and speedy style.
Austin also has the versatility, like Revis had, to be shuffled around the field. While Revis could follow a receiver around the field, into the slot and to the outside, Austin can be used both outside and in the slot while also taking snaps at running back, in fact, this past season Austin ran for 344 yards on 21 carries against Oklahoma.
Adding Austin would also help roster flexibility. Austin's jack-of-all-trades ability includes returning kicks, making Joe McKnight expendable. While I'm a huge McKnight fan, it seems, according to a twitter rant by Steve Bateman (@SteveBee99) earlier in the year, that McKnight's lack of playing time is less representative of his skill and more so on his inability to learn an entire NFL playbook. If true, McKnight will never be more than a kick return specialist and his roster spot could be more valuably filled. Instead of trading McKnight to the defense the Jets could just sign an actual DB.
If they draft Austin the Jets lives would be made significantly easier.