With the 13th pick in Pride Of Detroit's 2013 NFL mock draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select West Virginia wide receiver Tavon Austin. Twincities88 is serving as the Buccaneers' general manager, and his reasoning for the pick is below.
Despite rumors that this pick will be traded to the New York Jets, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers still find themselves with a first-round pick and many holes to fill. Tavon Austin would provide a big boost to Josh Freeman and add to the potential of Tampa Bay having one of the most explosive offenses in the conference. The team's wide receiver corps currently includes Tiquan Underwood, Kevin Ogletree and Steve Smith, some of whom may not make it out of camp. With all those receivers, Tampa Bay still lacks a true slot receiver inside of Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams.
Concerns over Austin's weight and small frame are quickly countered by his speed, athleticism and explosive big-play potential. Austin's 4.34 40 time was further evidence of the elite acceleration he showed with the ball in his hand. At West Virginia, he posted impressive stats, including 112 receptions for 1,280 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2012 and 73 carries for 652 yards and 3 touchdowns. Tampa Bay also did not record one single touchdown on punt and kick returns last year, a statistic that Austin can bring up next season. You cannot help but compare his potential to the likes of Reggie Bush and Darren Sproles.
There are several other positions and players I looked at as potential picks for the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay has a huge need at cornerback, but with Dee Milliner and Xavier Rhodes off the board, I thought that Desmond Trufant was a reach at this spot. If Star Lotulelei falls to No. 13, I could also very much see the Buccaneers take him. Tight end Tyler Eifert and defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson are two players I left on the board, and I believe the team will take a long look at them.
However, in this mock draft scenario, Austin, in my opinion, is the best player available and can add a level of dynamic gameplay that Tampa Bay has lacked in recent years. Austin will take some of the defensive pressure away from Doug Martin while not taking much of a hit from his workload. If the Buccaneers want Freeman to take the next step, they need to surround him with dynamic, elite talent.
Check out the 2013 Pride Of Detroit Community Mock Draft tracker for a look at all of the picks.