Needing to add speed and some run after catch abilities to the wide receiver room at some point this offseason, the Pittsburgh Steelers landed the ideal offensive package with the 138th overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft Saturday, selecting Memphis wide receiver Calvin Austin III.
Austin clocked a 4.32 40-yard dash at the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine, added a 39-inch vertical and a 135-inch broad jump, turning in one of the best days of any player this season, or in recent years.
Calvin Austin was a 0-star recruit out of high school. Walked onto Memphis and earned his spot. Became a star and now, a Pittsburgh Steeler.
Love those dudes with a chip on their shoulder. Guys who've been proving people wrong. #Steelers
— Alex Kozora (@Alex_Kozora) April 30, 2022
On tape, Austin is a true home-run threat every single time he touches the football, which is something new Steelers’ wide receivers coach Frisman Jackson is looking forward to as the Steelers added a new dimension to the room, breaking from the big, physical height/weight/speed freaks like Chase Claypool, George Pickens and Miles Boykin, adding a dynamic athlete overall.
“Great pick-up for us,” Jackson said to reporters Saturday following the selection of Austin, according to video via the Steelers’ official YouTube page. “Liked what we saw on tape and we watched him on tape. He made some plays in the slot and outside as a perimeter wide out. Did some really good things with the ball in his hands, and so we’re excited to have him on board.
Very good short-area explosion, beats press cleanly. Speed for days after the catch. Easily pulls away. Austin is a ton of fun. pic.twitter.com/TKjIsFTITn
— Josh Carney (@ByJoshCarney) April 30, 2022
“Think he adds a different dimension to our offense with his perimeter ability and his ability to play in the slot to be able to make some plays for us,” Jackson added. “Can’t wait to get him here, get to coaching him and see what we can do.”
After years of going with the physical slot receiver option in JuJu Smith-Schuster, the Steelers very clearly valued with Austin the speed and the ability to turn a short catch into an explosive play ending in six points. Looking back at some of Matt Canada’s best years as offensive coordinator, he always had that dynamic slot option that could score from anywhere on the field, like Quadree Henderson at Pitt in 2016.
That’s the type of role Austin will play, though he’s a much more developed receiver than Henderson was. We’ll see how quickly he can transition to the NFL at the receiver position coming from Memphis, and how much of an impact he’ll make offensively, though his skillset was a missing dimension the last few years.
Outside of Christian Watson, Calvin Austin III was probably the 2nd most impressive WR at the #SeniorBowl.
— Tyler Wise (@TriggeredWise) April 30, 2022