By Jeremy Hritz
Over the course of the next week, I will be profiling all of the Steelers draft picks and undrafted rookie free agents. The goal is to give you a comprehensive look at all of the new players to familiarize you with what they have to offer and what they can possibly contribute in the 2022 season.
With the Steelers 4th round selection, they added wide receiver Calvin Austin to their roster, and immediately injected world-class speed, explosiveness, and excitement to the receiver room. For the last few years, the Steelers pass catches have been without field stretchers, but that is not the case after adding the likes of George Pickens and Austin. While there are hurdles for the rookie out of Memphis to clear, he has the potential to elevate the Steelers wide receiving corps into a great one.
|Height||5’8||School||University of Memphis|
|40-Yard Dash||4.32||20-Yard Shuttle||4.07|
College Receiving Statistics
Fast. Really, really, really fast. No joke. Austin ran a 4.32 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, but it looked as if he was moving way faster than what he was timed. Can easily get behind defenders with his burst and ability to sustain his speed, creating opportunities for massive plays down the field. Is agile and mobile, making defenders miss in space, and is a threat to turn a short pass into a big gain. Is not limited to vertical routes, and offers value in the return game. Demonstrated growth and improvement in his 4 years at Memphis, showing that desire to learn and grow. High-character, confident receiver willing to give up his body for the reception.
Areas for Growth
Despite the speed, agility, and heart, Austin’s challenge will always be his size. At only 5’8, 170, Austin will have to show he has the ability to play beyond his size, and not be overrun by larger, physical receivers. In some cases, this is just simple physics, and he should not be utilized in a way in which he is being asked to make combative catches, as he will always be significantly smaller than the majority, if not all, of the defenders on the field.
Where Does He Fit Into the Depth Chart?
Austin should be the #4 wide receiver heading into the regular season, and his utilization in the Matt Canada offense will be multiple. Yes, he will be called upon several times a game to run the go route, but he will also be given opportunities to create in space, in addition to being utilized in jet sweeps and other creative runs. Will have a chance to compete for a spot as both a kick and punt returner.
Projected Contribution in 2022
Austin will get, at minimum, 15-20 snaps of offense each game, and if he shows he can deliver big plays, that number will expand. His speed is all too valuable to keep on the bench, and the Steelers will give him every opportunity to utilize it to help this offense. If he can deliver, he will automatically upgrade this unit, as it will create space for Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, and Pickens. I am excited about this selection, and yes, you should be, too.
Did You Know?
Not that it should come as any surprise, but Austin was also a track and field athlete at Memphis, and in high school, he was a state champion in sprints and relays.