PROS: Is quick off the snap, showing pop as a run blocker and able to get position. Has a nice mean streak, finishes his blocks, and will take a defender to the ground. Shows ability to lock on. Has decent mobility and hits his assignments usually when asked to pull. Has effective lateral footwork.
CONS: Lacks strength and won't be able to push pile as a drive blocker. Overextends trying to deliver punch at times. Needs to improve his balance. Has trouble matching up with and can get beat by quicker interior defenders. Needs to improve his hand placement. Not the quickest or smoothest athlete when operating in space.
OVERVIEW: He's an effective run blocker that needs to improve in pass protection. Undersized for the guard position, may be a better fit at center in the pros. Played left guard exclusively as a senior, although split time between there and center as a junior, and center and right guard as a sophomore. Had 15 starters at center, with 19 at left guard, and 4 at right guard.
NFL FORECAST: Austin can play guard, but doesn't have the strength and ability to really impact there. He can and should get stronger, but will never be a pile mover there. His best hope at sticking as a potential starter is at center, although he has limited experience there. Because of that limited experience, it'll probably take him a year or two to get in stride at that position. The main problem with him at guard is not his run blocking, but his struggles in pass protection. He would just be overmatched too often as he doesn't have the footwork, strength, or quickness to match up with NFL starting-caliber defensive tackles. That would be less an issue at center where he won't be stuck on an island nearly as much. The key with him is whether or not he can develop the intelligence that comes along with being a good NFL starter at center. I don't know, but at the very least he should be a versatile reserve in the mold of a Brett Romberg.
ATL FORECAST: Austin has potential to develop into a nice center prospect for the Falcons. He does compare favorably with Brett Romberg, although he's probably at least a year from having the sort of ability where he could pass Romberg on the depth chart and replace him. He probably could be a capable starter by his third year in Atlanta at center, all the while providing some decent depth at guard. But his potential doesn't wow you, and he'd be a nice fit in Atlanta because you like his mean streak and ability to get position in the running game. But he isn't a guy that is going to be a significant upgrade over McClure down the road, even if he does develop. You're looking at what essentially amounts to an average starter.
VALUE: Austin is a nice late round prospect for a team looking for a developmental center. His versatility makes him a nice seventh round pick.
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.