If you followed along with my pre-draft articles, you would know that I liked Alex Austin as a late-round prospect and that I thought he would be a good fit for the Buffalo Bills. The Oregon State product has a tough path to making the final roster, but I believe he has a better shot at making it than most people think. Let’s take a look at what he has to offer.
Alex Austin’s college career
Alex Austin redshirted his first year at Oregon State and then started five games in 2020. He then became a full-time starter in 2021 and 2022 where he earned All-Pac 12 honorable mention in both seasons. In his career with the Beavers, Austin tallied 140 total tackles, two tackles for loss, one sack, three fumble recoveries, 24 passes defended, four interceptions, and one interception return for a touchdown.
2023 NFL Scouting Combine
Austin measured in at 6’1”, which is a nice height for an NFL CB. He also weighed 195 pounds, with 31 7/8” arms, and 8 1/2” hands. Here are Austin’s combine test results:
- 40-yard dash = 4.55s
- 10-yard split = 1.54s
- Vertical jump = 33”
- Broad jump = 10’2”
- 20-yard shuttle = 4.33s
CB Alex Austin from @BeaverFootball is as smooth as they come. Exceptional footwork. His 40-yard dash time might push him down #NFLDraft boards, but I think he has great instincts and a high football IQ. Overlooked late-round prospect. pic.twitter.com/y6NYlgplCb— B.J. Monacelli (@bjmonacelli) March 12, 2023
Film Analysis of Alex Austin
Austin looked to be using outside leverage in zone coverage. He sunk with the post route initially but then came off of it when he saw the wheel route coming behind it. He did an excellent job of transitioning forward to make a play on the ball — and taking it to the house for the pick-six.
Alex Austin blitzing
Austin isn’t afraid to mix it up in the blitz game either. What I like most about this play is how he disguised the blitz and timed it perfectly.
Alex Austin is a willing tackler
Austin offers some support as a willing tackler. Here he showed a quick transition to come up and attack this swing pass to make a solid tackle for no gain.
The above two clips of Austin are from the NFL Combine. I thought he was the smoothest DB regarding footwork and transitions at this year’s combine. He never seems to be “trying.” He’s always in control and has minimal missteps.
Pros & Cons
- As smooth as they come — great footwork and transitions
- Adequate size and length
- Solid production in college
- Football IQ shows up in coverage — excellent understanding of zone schemes
- Has the foot quickness to compete in man-to-man situations
- Is a willing tackler/competitor
- Average top-end speed
- Loses a step in vertical routes against speedy WRs
- Slender build — he can get pushed around a bit by more physical WRs
- Man-to-man coverage can be “handsy”
- Even though he is a willing tackler, his tackling mechanics need some work
I wouldn’t underestimate general manager Brandon Beane and head coach Sean McDermott’s propensity to identify quality players in the late rounds of the NFL Draft and through undrafted free agency. I think the Bills will value Austin more than people think and my hot take is that he will make the final 53-man roster. It will likely come down to Austin’s ability to contribute on special teams, but his value as a depth corner who can develop into a quality player is enough for Buffalo to seriously consider keeping him on the final roster. If the Bills end up putting him on the practice squad I wouldn’t be surprised if Austin gets snagged by another team at some point in the year. Take a look below at some of Brandon Beane’s best late-round defensive backs he’s snagged in his time with the Bills.
I think rookie Alex Austin from @BeaverFootball will make the team and be added to an impressive list late round/UDFA DBs that Beane/McDermott have identified & developed into solid players. #BillsMafia https://t.co/JN5KPves8g— B.J. Monacelli (@bjmonacelli) May 2, 2023
Here is the list:— B.J. Monacelli (@bjmonacelli) May 2, 2023
Levi Wallace - UDFA
Jackson - 7th round
Benford - 6th round
Johnson - 4th round
Hamlin - 6th round
Lewis - UDFA
Neal - 5th round
Nick McCloud - UDFA (started 8 games for Giants in 2022)
Include Poyer/Hyde as under-the-radar FA signings if you want it.