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February 24, 2013

Austin's forty nabs headlines among WVU's combine participants





West Virginia's Tavon Austin's unofficial forty-yard dash at 4.25 seconds was the fastest time since the 2010 NFL Combine when Clemson's Jacoby Ford was clocked at 4.28 seconds. Eventually docked down to 4.34 officially, Austin grabbed the attention of NFL scouts and coaches with his straight line speed.

Austin proved to NFL scouts and coaches today that he is just as fast vertically as he is laterally. Coming into today, most NFL decision makers know that Austin is talented and can make defenders miss in space, today they received first hand evidence of how fast Austin really is. With straight line speed, Austin confirms and solidifies himself as an NFL first round pick come April.

The Baltimore Native, Austin, also did better than people expected showing strength on the bench press. Austin measuring in at five-foot-eight, 174 pounds did 14 reps of 225 pounds, giving NFL teams a reason to believe that his build will allow him to take the hits during the course of a season despite being undersized.

Austin's strong performance even received praise from NFL Network Analyst, Marshall Faulk who compared Austin to "Percy Harvin and Wes Welker rolled into one."

As for Austin's college quarterback, Geno Smith, the projected top overall quarterback, proved that notion worthy by throwing today. Smith, helped himself by solidifying that projection.

Today in Indianapolis, Smith threw the ball with confidence. He executed the slant, post, corner, dig and go route with ease. Arguably, Smith threw the post corner better than any other quarterback within his throwing group. Being that Smith's bread and butter was the post corner at West Virginia, Smith dropped the ball in with accuracy making it look easy in front of NFL scouts and coaches. More importantly for Smith, he showed comfort using both the five and seven step drop. At WVU, Smith didn't have to do that a ton because he was in the shotgun. At the next level, Smith will have to take the ball from under center at some point.

In addition, Smith was also the fastest quarterback in the forty-yard dash, running it in 4.59 seconds. Typically, a traditional pocket passer, by running the forty-yard dash, NFL teams can at least see that Smith has the speed if they wanted utilize packages like the spread-option or simply get Smith outside of the pocket.

Smith's favorite target at WVU was Stedman Bailey. Today, Bailey had a solid workout in Indianapolis. Obviously not the freakish athlete that Austin is, Bailey did not wow anyone while running his forty-yard dash, he finished with a 4.52 official time. Because Bailey isn't that standout 'workout warrior' he had to do what he does best, catch the football. In the receiver showcase, the gauntlet drill, Bailey stood tall.

While the gauntlet drill shows nothing that will happen in game, it gauges how well a receiver reacts to and catches the football. Bailey was phenomenal going 14 for 14 catching every ball thrown at him during the two times he did the drill. The Miramar HS graduate, Bailey did exactly what he was supposed to. NFL teams are going to see that Bailey is one of the best pure pass catchers in the receiver class. During the gauntlet drill, Bailey was able to catch the ball away from his body proving his hands.

Finally, WVU Center Joe Madsen who worked out on Saturday, showed ability to snap the football and take a good pull step with acceleration while doing so. Granted, nothing is done in pads so take it for whatever its worth, but since Madsen showed strength in doing so, he has value to NFL teams. Snapping the ball and pulling is valued because there are very few centers that can do it at a high level. At West Virginia, there were a few plays for Madsen where he pulled from the center position.

Madsen also put up 25 reps on the bench press.

For these former West Virginia standouts, their next step in getting to the NFL is March 14th at West Virginia's NFL Pro Day.


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