Fans are interested to see what Pittsburgh has in their fastest player. Here’s how WR Calvin Austin showed a glimpse of his speed in his first Steelers training camp practice.
It didn’t take long for some of the young players to show off their skillset at Steelers training camp. During the very first practice at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA, second-round rookie WR George Pickens nearly came down with a few acrobatic catches as he clearly flashed his potential.
However, Pickens wasn’t the only rookie turning heads. The Steelers drafted another wide receiver in the fourth round of the 2022 NFL Draft who they believe can make an impact on this team.
Calvin Austin III had a remarkably productive college career at Memphis, but he slipped all the way to pick 138 in the NFL Draft due to his size. At 5’7 3/4” and 170 pounds, Austin’s size is in the first percentile compared to NFL wide receivers, according to Mockdraftable, and he shares a similar size and athletic profile to former Steeler, Dri Archer.
But don’t call Austin a gadget. Despite his twitch and speed, he’s got some natural football traits, and he’s out to prove it. While this will come in time, Austin’s speed was very noticeable from the gate. During his first Steelers training camp practice, Austin caught a screen and exploded down the field. A fan caught in on tape:
It’s important to take this into context. The Steelers don’t have their first full padded practice until August first. Because they aren’t allowed to tackle anyone, Austin very well may have been tagged up for a gain of just 5 or so. However, it’s easy to see how his speed will be an asset for Pittsburgh.
Following practice, Mark Kaboly of The Athletic caught up with Austin, who claimed he had another gear and chose not to put on the after-burners:
Steelers could get a treat with Calvin Austin
I’m not going to lose my mind over one play from practice that may have been halted if the defense was allowed to tackle, but I was extremely high on Calvin Austin III coming out of college this year.
Austin is not your typical undersized gadget like Dri Archer or Chris Rainey. He’s a natural wide receiver who can run routes and pluck the ball out of the air effortlessly. Knowing the Steelers are getting a natural player combined with an elite athlete is always intriguing.
The biggest test is going to be how well he can compensate for his severe lack of size. Austin instantly becomes one of the smallest receivers in the league and his catch radius is going to be tiny as a result.
The hope is that he can be far more than just a punt returner who comes in on offense to keep defenses honest. If all goes well, Austin may be able to develop into an electric weapon from the slot (his size is likely going to limit him from playing on the outside).
Austin’s first Steelers training camp practice was a great start. If he can continue to build on this and gain the trust of his coaching staff, the talented rookie receiver could be climbing up the depth chart in no time.