Calvin Austin lll, WR, Memphis: 2022 NFL Draft Scouting Report

Memphis Tigers receiver Calvin Austin III breaks into the endzone on a 25-yard catch against Mississippi State Bulldogs at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021.Jrca5451
Memphis Tigers receiver Calvin Austin III breaks into the endzone on a 25-yard catch against Mississippi State Bulldogs at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021.Jrca5451 /

Memphis WR Calvin Austin III is one of the most electric players in the 2022 NFL Draft. Let’s look at his scouting report.


Name: Calvin Austin lll

School: Memphis

Position: Offensive Weapon

DOB: March 24, 1999 (22 years old)

Height: 5’7”

Weight: 173 pounds

Wingspan: 73 1/4”

Arm: 30 5/8”

Hand: 9 1/8”


Calvin Austin lll attended Harding Academy in Memphis, Tennessee. He was a three-year starter as an offensive and defensive weapon for the football team. Austin was deployed in a number of different ways and this is evident when looking at his variety of touchdowns across his career. He scored 49 total touchdowns in high school, including: 24 receiving, eight rushing, six punt returns, five kick returns, four pick-six interceptions, and two scoop and scores.

Austin was not only a star on the football field, he was also a standout track star, specializing in sprints and relays. He helped set five school records in his time at Harding, leading to nine state championship titles on his resume.

Following his illustrious high school career, Austin was not rewarded with much fanfare or recruiting interest. In fact, he chose to walk-on to the Memphis football team with his main focus being on track and field.

He redshirted as a true freshman for football but this did not stop him from being a member of the relay team that set three school records in the 4×100 and 4×400. He continued his track career in 2018 and 2019, claiming yet another school record at the 2019 AAC Championships by posting a pristine 39.19 in the 4×100.

Back tracking just a bit here, Austin’s football career finally took off a bit in 2018. His second touch at the collegiate level went for an 83 yard touchdown via a sweep versus Mercer, making it the longest rush by a Memphis Tiger since Deangelo Williams in 2002.

The following season, Austin played in all but one game and finished with 17 catches and 315 yards. He also found the end zone on three separate occasions and showed enough flashes that the coaching staff awarded him with a full ride scholarship for the upcoming 2020 football season.

Austin took full advantage of his newfound comfort, knowing that the staff saw potential in him. He proved their belief in him was wise by putting up an impressive 63 catches, resulting in 1053 yards and 11 touchdowns during his redshirt junior campaign. As the final cherry on top, he added a punt return touchdown too.

Calvin followed a First-Team All-AAC selection in 2020 with another in 2021. In 12 games he set career highs across the board, including: catches (74), receiving yards (1149), and touchdowns (8). He was not only a threat through the air, as he made a house call on a very nice 69 yard rushing play during their mid-October win versus Navy.

The highlight of his final season at Memphis came in a game at Arkansas State. In this game, Austin exploded for 239 yards on only six catches. This is an AVERAGE of 40 yards per catch. It is hard for the brain to even compute that. He scored on half of those catches, resulting in his only career game with three receiving touchdowns.

Austin parlayed this success into an invite to the Senior Bowl, a huge step in the 2022 NFL Draft process. He caught the eye of many scouts with his better-than-expected “twitchiness”. He used it to consistently get open on one-on-one drills, showing an incredible release off the line of scrimmage.

Now that Austin is garnering much-deserved attention, let’s look at what makes him the most intriguing offensive chess piece on the board in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Best Traits

Playmaker – Austin is a home run hitter in every sense of the term. He uses his uber athleticism and elite top speed to blow by defenders with ease. Austin was used primarily out of the slot, which is where he will make his money on Sundays. Savvy offensive coordinators will be able to scheme Austin open and design quick-hitters to help get the ball in his hands and allow him to create yards after the catch.

Speed – I touched on this earlier but Austin is one of the fastest players in the 2022 NFL Draft, if not the fastest. He was a record-breaking track star not only in high school but also at a top college in the nation. He jumps off the screen when he is able to get out in the open and hits an extra gear that few others possess. I’d venture to say that he has been the fastest player on any football field he’s ever stepped onto, including his time at the Senior Bowl. It is so fun seeing Austin reach his top speed because he makes it look as though the defenders are moving in slow motion.

Agility – Calvin Austin III is best described as twitchy. He has an uncanny ability to contort his body in ways that most can’t. He has incredibly fluid hips and uses that smoothness to shake would-be tacklers, making them touch grass. Both with the ball in his hands and while coming out of routes, Austin manipulates defensive backs into believing he will break one way and then immediately goes the other way on a dime. This effortless ability to start and stop will help him continue to get open against more polished slot defenders.

Work Ethic – Many of the negatives to Austin’s game are things out of his control. Arguably his best trait, however, is one that he has full control over. One does not luck into a scholarship after starting his career as a walk-on. To get to the point he is now at, it took blood, sweat, and tears. Many long days of staying after practice to refine his skills led to the player you see today. He had to fight for his football life when first arriving at the University of Memphis and that grants him a perspective that a lot of the top prospects in this draft class could never have. He’s worked himself into a versatile option for any offense.

Release – Prior to him flexing obvious improvement in this department at the Senior Bowl, this actually would have fallen under the “Needs Improvement” label. Austin exhibited a newfound consistency with his release off the snap. He used his quick feet and solid hand fighting technique to routinely get the upper hand in coverage during drills. As was alluded to before, Calvin does well utilizing head fakes. He always had the traits to succeed in this aspect of the game, so it is especially promising to see the technical side catch up to the talent.

Needs Improvement

Size – This will come as no surprise. Austin has been counted out due to his slight frame his entire life. Always being told he was too small and that he would have no chance at playing at the highest level. He has done well to prove all the doubters wrong so far, but Sundays are a whole different story. Lining up across from fully grown men each play presents a challenge that Austin has not faced much of. He will likely never be a true number one option for an offense and there is significant worry that he could be vulnerable to press coverage.

Concentration – Austin hasn’t shown a willingness to routinely make plays over the middle of the field. There is a fear that comes with being so small and exposing yourself to big hits between the seams. This is understandable due to his slight frame not allowing him to play with reckless abandon, but is still a detriment to his overall projection as a slot receiver. His lack of concentration shows up in other facets too, mainly in the blocking phase. He is shown giving effort as a blocker but — more or less — takes most run plays off. Austin’s size will always limit his ceiling as a blocker, but one thing coaches won’t allow is a lack of buying into each play.

Route Tree – Austin is technically sound as a route runner but his overall lack of size really hampers his ability to get open at times. This can be alleviated by putting Austin in motion, as was frequently done during his time at Memphis. You will not always be able to scheme him open though, so it is vital that Austin diversifies his route tree as much as possible. He already shows proficiency as a route runner in the short passing game, habitually creating space for quick slants, out routes, and the like. If Austin can add some more intermediate routes to his arsenal, it will make him a more well rounded threat in the 2022 NFL Draft by leaps and bounds.

Final Thoughts

Calvin Austin lll showed up to Mobile with a lot to prove and passed that test with flying colors. Austin was not on the radar much in terms of most top 100 big boards. His production at Memphis didn’t completely go unnoticed, but it was something that needed to be stamped at the Senior Bowl. He was uncoverable on a majority of the snaps he took against other draft hopefuls, helping further his case for being worthy of a day two pick in the upcoming 2022 NFL Draft.