Dec 11, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Rams wide receiver Tavon Austin (11) during warmups before the game between the St. Louis Rams and the Arizona Cardinals at the Edward Jones Dome. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
We talked a lot on Stripe Hype a couple of weeks ago that trading for Tavon Austin would make some sense, especially after the loss of Bengals fourth wide receiver, James Wright. On paper, it looked like a smart more with a lot of upside. Little did we take the time to look at a player right in front our faces to answer that exact question. Well thanks to one of our great twitter followers, we now take a look at what the Bengals may have right in front of them that could make a difference right away.
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Mario Alford and Tavon Austin both came from West Virginia University, both are 5 foot 9 inches, right around the 175 lb range. They both rely on speed and elusiveness to drive their success. Austin did have the better numbers coming out of college but Austin also played three of his four years in the Big East and the Big 12 was unknown to West Virginia, just as much as it was unknown to the Big 12. Austin also had NFL caliber and top NCAA quarterback, Geno Smith throwing to him in college, which improved his numbers.
Alford led the Mountaineers in receiving touchdowns with 11 during the 2014 season and second behind the Bears first round draft pick Kevin White in 2015. He led the Mountaineers kickoff return with two touchdowns and 743 yards on 26 attempts. Alford only spent his final two years with WVU and spent his first two with Georgia Military College, which is a junior college southeast of Atlanta. Austin spent all four years with WVU and started evey game in both his junior and senior year.
Austin’s numbers in his final year at WVU looked solid with 114 catches for 1289 yards and 12 touchdowns. His return game was nearly identical to Alfrod’s with 1 touchdown on 33 attempts for 813 yards including a long of 100. As I stated before, Austin’s advantage came in a big was that he had Geno Smith throwing to him and it made up for his smaller height at WVU. He also didn’t have the talent in front of him to take the bulk of receptions, like White did for Alford.
They are both skilled and there is no denying that Tavon Austin could do some good in Cincinnati. The undeniable fact though is the Bengals do not have to look far for an impact speed receiver and return man. They certainly do not need to give up starting quality talent or give away future players in the form of draft picks. As long as Mario Alford performs and makes this team, his upsides remind me a lot of a former Steelers return man and receiver, Stefan Logan. If the Bengals work with him, he could also make a strong argument as a slot receiver, which could make his value sky rocket, close to that of Austin.
Keep an eye on this one Bengals fans, his explosiveness will be fun to watch. Expect him to make the return man decision a very hard decision and possibly a number 4 or 5 receiving position as well