What do the “The Legend of Kiko” and E.J. Manuel have in common? The answer: Tavon Austin. Back in 2013, The (then) St. Louis Rams traded up with the Buffalo Bills to select Tavon eighth overall. The return for the Bills included E.J. Manuel and Kiko Alonso. Unfortunately, all three have had less than favorable careers. However, look who just showed up in Buffalo at the ripe age of 32. Tavon Austin is advertised as a harmonic blend of Isaiah McKenzie and James Cook. However, how athletic is he? Especially after an injury plagued career.
Tavon Austin was electric in college. The two time All-American out of West Virginia scored 17 TDs his senior year. These were through the air (12 receiving), the ground (three rushing), and two in the return game (one punt and one kick). However, his athletic profile was very reliant on speed.
Austin’s Injury History
Entering this stage of his career, it can be assumed that he has lost his fast ball. Unfortunately, this is likely compounded by his lengthy injury history. After a very clean college career, Tavon missed games in his first and second seasons due to ankle and knee injuries. He was able to follow that up with two of his best seasons in 2015 and 2016, during which he suffered no notable injuries, other than one missed game due to a chest injury. However, his last five seasons have produced replacement-level play and coincides with a myriad of injuries.
2017 was when Tavon started to struggle. He had wrist surgery in the offseason. Then, a hamstring injury kept him out of the entire preseason. His tumultuous season also included a concussion in the first month of play. This was the last season he would play for the Rams.
After being traded to the Cowboys in 2018, Tavon suffered a severe groin/core injury which caused him to miss nine games. In 2019, he had another concussion which required him to miss two games.
The following year (2020), Austin landed with the 49ers. However, he had a mysterious knee injury in camp, which put him on the IR and he was eventually cut. Nevertheless, he was able to return late in the year with the Packers for four games.
This past season, Tavon was with the Jaguars. He missed the first three games of the 2021 season with a quad strain. Thigh injuries are hard to overcome, but he was able to finish the season with 24 catches for 213 yards.
What can the Buffalo Bills expect from him?
At this point in his career, Tavon has likely slowed down. He is not a player poised for a breakout with us this year. Still, his character and versatility has kept him around the NFL for nine seasons. Tavon likely won’t make the 53-man roster, but having him in camp does bring value. At camp, he can get acquainted with the Bills’ philosophies and playbook. If needed during the season, he may be available as a street free agent singing or practice squad call-up. In this scenario, his ramp up time to play will be cut significantly.