Austin is one of several prospects being mentioned in connection with the Jets, who suddenly have two picks in the top 13 selections after trading cornerback Darrelle Revis. On his pre-draft visit with the Jets, the notoriously defensive-minded Rex Ryan told the multi-purpose wideout he wants to find other ways to use Austin.
“He made a little joke, ‘We might throw you on the defensive side for a couple plays,’ ”Austin said Wednesday at the NFL’s “Play 60” event at Chelsea Waterside Park. “(Rex) said he had a plan for me.”
Instead, the 5-foot-9 Austin would be an instant upgrade for the Jets’ offense and a shiny new toy for coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, who spent the last few season torturing NFL defenses with big-play weapons Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson.
“I play running back, slot receiver and special-teams player,” Austin said when asked about how he can immediately impact an NFL team as a rookie. “I think I can bring a big impact to the team; just my big-play ability, making people miss and everything like that. I think I’ll have a big impact.”
Austin’s highlight films, jaw-dropping athleticism and blazing speed have him rocketing up draft boards, which isn’t lost on the former Mountaineer.
“Nobody was expecting me to be in the first round right now,” Austin said. “That’s how it’ll always be. I’m just glad that at the right time my name’s moving up.”
How far he moves up remains to be seen. Austin’s name has been mentioned as high as Buffalo’s No. 8 overall choice and with both of the Jets’ first-round picks at nine and 13. However, the days leading up to the draft are ripe with disinformation and it bears noting that the Jets have made no secret of their affection for Austin.
Various parts of the Jets coaching staff and front office have seen Austin at the combine, his pro day and on a visit to their Florham Park facility. In comparison, likely first-round selections and possible Jet targets Jonathan Cooper, Chance Warmack and Barkevious Mingo made it a point to say they’ve had minimal contact with the Jets during the draft process, with only Warmack admitting a visit to the Jets’ facilities.
So will Mornhinweg get his new play toy or is this all just one of those patented draft smokescreens?
“At the end of the it’s about the GMs and the coaches,” Austin said. “A lot of these analysts will say where I will go at but a lot of the time they don’t have a clue. I just gotta wait to tomorrow and see who’s gonna pick my name.”