Is Tavon Austin a possibility for Browns?

April, 24, 2013
4/24/13
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After Tavon Austin was selected 13th overall by the New York Jets in Tuesday's blogger mock draft, ESPN's Matt Williamson predicted that the West Virginia wide receiver wouldn't last this long in the first round Thursday night.

Williamson then added: "Austin to Browns?"

Could the Cleveland Browns really take Austin at No. 6? Or would they consider him if they traded back to No. 11 (San Diego) or No. 12 (Miami)?

[+] EnlargeTavon Austin
Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY SportsTavon Austin could be the dynamic playmaker the Browns lack on offense.
After the mock draft, I asked Williamson how strongly he felt about Austin ending up in Cleveland.

"I don't love the fit honestly, but I think just about every team could use Austin and should consider him," Williamson said. "The Browns new coaching staff has historically liked very big wide receivers, but it is tough to argue against that this offense could use one more dynamic weapon. Also, the Browns are in a bit of draft no-man's land where they sit right now. I think Austin ends up with the Jets in the end."

Williamson is right about the Browns' offense needing a spark. New coach Rob Chudzinski and offensive coordinator Norv Turner are taking over a group that has produced these rankings in scoring offense over the past five seasons: 30th (2008), 29th (2009), 31st (2010), 30th (2011) and 24th (2012). The Browns have two starting wide receivers in Josh Gordon and Greg Little. What this offense lacks is a dynamic element like Austin, who made a pre-draft visit to Cleveland earlier this month.

I don't think the Browns will take Austin, but I won't rule out the possibility completely. Austin is considered one of the top offensive playmakers of this draft with his explosive speed. Last season, Austin caught 112 passes for 1,289 yards and 12 touchdowns. He rushed for 643 yards and three touchdowns. The biggest concern is his durability at 5-foot-8 and 174 pounds.

Some would argue that the Browns already have a fast but undersized receiver-returner in Travis Benjamin, a fourth-round pick from a year ago. But no one would put Benjamin in Austin's class in terms of potential and game-changing ability.

"He's a phenomenal player,” ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said of Austin. “I think Tavon is going to have a heck of a career. He is a touchdown-maker, he is a scoreboard-changer. You can get him the ball in terms of a running game, you can get him the ball on reverses, the wide receiver screens to get him in space, the return game. He’s dynamic.”

Austin is perhaps the biggest wild card in this draft, next to West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith. There's a chance Austin could go as high as No. 4 to the Philadelphia Eagles or as low as No. 16 to the St. Louis Rams. Or maybe somewhere in the middle to the Browns.

Jamison Hensley

ESPN Ravens reporter

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