Player comparisons don’t often mean much, but for football fans who don’t quite recognize Calvin Austin III’s name, think of him as – hopefully – the next Tyler Lockett.
After being the Pittsburgh Steelers’ fourth round pick Saturday, Austin spoke with media members on a conference call, and compared his game to Seattle’s Lockett.
“There’s a lot of guys I watch,” Austin said via a transcript provided by the team. “I would say one in particular is Tyler Lockett. He’s a guy that I watched a lot just because he can do things from the slot. He tracks the ball well.
Like Austin, Lockett was an electric player coming out of Kansas State in 2015. Lockett had a bigger profile, but only slightly so, and was considered small for the NFL at 5’9″, 182 pounds. Austin weighed in at just under 5’8”, 170 pounds during the pre-draft process. Both men were big-play capable and worked in the return game, though Lockett had more experience and bigger numbers than Austin. Lockett has enjoyed a consistent and successful career and come on strong over the past thee seasons, surpassing the 1,000-yard mark in each of those years.
Austin primarily played as an outside receiver in college, but is more likely to find a home in the slot in the NFL. Still, his versatility is a calling card and he should align all over the Steelers’ offense.
“I was primarily outside at Memphis, so about I would say 80% of my snaps came from outside. That’s what I think makes me very versatile because with my size, you would think I’m just a slot receiver. But that’s something I can go in and do both. I can do outside and inside because I have the experience.”
Austin said he watches several players beyond Lockett, too.
“Tyreek Hill, of course. Cole Beasley just because of how he works in the slot. Davante Adams, his release game. I watch a lot of guys and just take things from their game to add to mine and continue getting better.”
Adams has one of the best release packages in the league. Obviously, their body types are much different, but for a smaller guy like Austin, getting off the line and beating press is critical, so watching a guy like Adams is a good place to start.
Austin becomes the latest weapon added to the Steelers’ offense, a running theme over the team’s last two drafts. With their top two 2021 picks, they selected RB Najee Harris and TE Pat Freiermuth. With three of their four selections in 2022, they’ve taken QB Kenny Pickett and WRs George Pickens and Austin. It’s a youth movement on that side of the ball, and Austin adds an infusion of speed that’s been missing.