The NFC West is shaping up to be a very tough division in 2013. The division appears to be full of talented young quarterbacks and stingy defenses, but this article is about the dynamic playmakers that reside in the division. The San Francisco 49ers have their own dynamic playmaker in Michael Crabtree, but he definitely leans more towards the “traditional wideout” role than the NFC West’s newest playmakers. The Seattle Seahawks made one of the biggest moves of the offseason by trading for the Minnesota Vikings star wide receiver Percy Harvin. The Seahawks gave up a significant amount of draft capital in the trade, as well as signing Harvin to a contact extension averaging around $11 million per year. The St. Louis Rams waited to get their dynamic playmaker in the NFL Draft. The Rams also gave up a significant amount of draft capital in the trade with the Buffalo Bills to move up from the 16th to the 8th spot to snag West Virginia star Tavon Austin. So which team made the best offseason move? Well until these players actually play a season or two for their new teams its way too early to tell, but hey snap judgements is what todays society is all about so let’s get to it. Let’s start by taking a look at the draft profiles for each player, so that we are at least attempting to compare apples to apples.
|Height||5′ 11 1/8”||5′ 8 1/2”|
|Weight||192 lbs||174 lbs|
|Overall Football Traits|
|Wide Receiver Specific Traits|
|Big Play Ability||1||1|
|Scouts Scale: 1= Exceptional 2=Above Average 3=Average 4=Below Average 5=Marginal|
Looking at the draft profiles and it seems that Tavon Austin rates as the more explosive player. Austin has the better 40 yard dash time, as well as scoring equal to or above Harvin in every category. One surprise is that the Scouts rated Austin a 2 on durability, even though it is said that he has never even missed a single practice let alone a game due to injury. His size is a concern related to durability in the NFL, but the way the NFL protects wide receivers today it should be less of a concern than it would have been 20 years ago. If you watch Austin’s highlight reels you will notice he has incredible vision and awareness, and I have yet to see a defender lay a solid hit on him. Austin appears to be an NFL ready receiver, that is to say that he is a very polished route runner with the ability to gain separation against man coverage, as well as find the soft spots in zone coverages. If Austin can pickup the Rams playbook he could have a huge impact from day one. Even if Austin has a limited grasp of the playbook he will be a dynamic player once he gets the ball in his hands, and the Rams will find ways to get the ball to him on special teams as well as on offense.
The Seahawks picked up Harvin, who prior to going on injured reserve, was in the MVP conversation as he was having an outstanding season as the Vikings only offensive weapon not named Adrian Peterson. Harvin has proven that he is one of the most exciting playmakers in the NFL during his four seasons in the league. Unfortunately Harvin also missed 10 out of the 64 regular season games that the Vikings have played since they drafted him, with 7 of those games being missed during the 2012 season. In four seasons in the NFL Harvin has scored 29 total touchdowns (4 more touchdowns than Stedman Bailey scored at West Virginia last season), via rushing, receiving and special teams. The draft profile for Percy Harvin definitely had some questions regarding his durability, as well as the intangibles such as leadership and maturity.
So who got the better deal in the NFC West? Well if you are the Seahawks you have to be very excited about getting a dynamic playmaker for your offense, but Harvin definitely didn’t come cheap. If you are the Rams you have to be very excited about snatching up the most dynamic playmaker in the NFL draft, but until Austin proves that he can be effective in the NFL it does carry some risk. Both teams invested high amounts of draft capital to get their guy, but the Rams will end up paying Austin considerably less than the $11 million a year that the Seahawks owe Harvin. If Harvin can manage to play the entire season for the Seahawks and put up similar numbers to what he was doing last year, the Seahawks will be very happy with their decision. If Austin can provide the type of playmaking ability that most draft analysts predict, the Rams will also be very happy with their decision. It is too early to tell just who come out as the winner here, the Seahawks appear to have a higher level of risk associated with their decision given Harvin’s injury history and huge contract. If both players can stay healthy and live up to expectations though I would say that both teams and their fans would feel like winners. Thanks for reading and as always Go Rams!!!