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Monday, February 25, 2013
Tavon Austin's stock too high for Patriots?

By James Walker

With both slot receivers Wes Welker and Julian Edelman pending free agents, West Virginia’s Tavon Austin was a natural fit for the New England Patriots at No. 29 overall.

The miniature Austin is the type of slot receiver New England likes in its offense. He could either learn under Welker for a couple years, or join the less-expensive Edelman to make a dynamic pair in the slot if Welker doesn't re-sign.

But Austin's performance this weekend at the NFL combine may have raised his stock and made Austin too rich for New England's liking. Austin ran a lightning-fast 4.34 in the 40-yard dash, which is the second-fastest time this year. He also caught the football well in group workouts.

The combine isn't everything, but there is now more potential for teams ahead of New England to get enamored with Austin. He has strong game tape and was one of the top workout players at this year's combine. That's a strong combination.

Austin often gets comparisons as a hybrid between Welker and Percy Harvin of the Minnesota Vikings. Austin has the precision and quick first step of Welker and the deep speed and explosiveness of Harvin.

New England likes value players and Austin would certainly count as value at No. 29. But Austin’s stock most likely is on the rise after a dynamic combine, and he could be off the board by the time the Patriots pick.