North Carolina Senior
40: 4.90 (estimated)
Has very good strength, athleticism, range, and quickness. Shows ability to drop off into coverage. Does a nice job working down the line laterally and making plays in pursuit. Has a nice swim move to get upfield. Has closing burst on the ball. Shows ability to shed the block, and fill hole to make stop at the point of attack.
Inconsistent and rarely dominant despite his physical gifts. Needs to develop more technique. Struggles to disengage from blockers. Struggles against double teams and can get engulfed vs. the run. Needs to play with more recognition and can be slow off the snap. Tends to overly rely on natural gifts. Has had past issues where his conditioning and perhaps work ethic could be questioned.
Austin has potential to be a dominant defender, but he mostly looks the part rather than actually playing up to his potential. Character concerns abound about him due to his being suspended by the NCAA for the entire year for some tweets he made about off-season parties. He was the one that opened the can of worms that got the NCAA to clamp down on UNC this past year. He's a more natural nose tackle than 3-technique because his quickness isn't always on display. He showed improvement from sophomore year to junior season, but never quite lived up to the billling. Hype started as a freshman, where he had 26 tackles, 6 for loss, and 4 sacks mostly as a reserve. But his production dipped as a sophomore starter with 38 tackles, 1.5 for loss, 1 sack, and 1 interception. Things picked back up as a junior with 42 tackles, 6 for loss, and 4 sacks.
Austin has loads of potential, and it would not be surprising if at some point in the future he is considered one of the premier defensive tackles in the league. His sort of size and athleticism reminds me of a player like Kris Jenkins. But unlike Jenkins, I don't expect Austin to come in right away and be an impact defender by his second season. Austin has the potential to fit in any defensive scheme. At this point, he would probably work best as a nose tackle in a 4-3 scheme, but also has the long-term potential to be a potent option in a 3-4 scheme, much like Jenkins has become for the Jets. The main concern with Austin is whether his lack of ideal production is really due to conditioning and/or work ethic issues. He's really a boom/bust prospect that I think could be an elite defensive tackle 5 years from now, or could be much like ex-Tarheel Ryan Sims who entered the league with a ton of expectations as well.
Austin could work in Atlanta if he is committed to getting better. He would start off as a rotational player and his talent is such that he should get immediate playing time, and probably beat out Vance Walker for the No. 4 defensive tackle position because of his upside. He has the potential to be able to play multiple techniques like the Falcons prefer. He has the upside to be a very good starter for the Falcons, the concern is whether he is going to put in the work that less talented guys like Jerry and Peters would, since no one has ever questioned their motors. If he develops, he could be a nice 5-sack guy that can create mismatches inside and free up teammates. Or he could be a guy that three years from now washes out of Atlanta much like Chad Lavalais, because the team just gets tired of his conditioning, slow development, and lack of work ethic.
Austin has first round potential and has the talent a team looks for in a Top 15 pick. But because of the character issues, he probably should go off the board in the early part of the second round where he is a much better value.
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite
Point of Attack: 3.0
Pass Rush: 2.5
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.