The Times West Virginian

April 6, 2013

HERTZEL COLUMN: Kiper: Little doubt Tavon is taken high

By Bob Hertzel
Times West Virginian

MORGANTOWN — It is almost amazing how Tavon Austin has risen up the draft ladder, now seemingly for certain a first-round pick despite his diminutive size.

One of his biggest boosters, by the way, is the person who changed the entire “show biz” presentation of the draft, Mel Kiper Jr., who recently spoke glowingly about Austin during a national press conference.

“Well, he’s a phenomenal player,” Kiper said when asked his evaluation of him. “I saw him in high school here at Dunbar in Baltimore, and he was outstanding. He was a man among boys. He’s just tremendously electrifying, great quickness. He doesn’t break tackles; he’s only 5-8½, 5-9, and yet try to get a handle on him to tackle him, so the first thing you have to do is corral him.

“He’s great kid, very businesslike in his approach, serious about his business. You know, you think about the slot receivers, guys like (Wes) Welker and (Danny) Amendola and Davone Bess, they all went undrafted. This kid is going to be drafted in the top 16. I think the furthest I could see him getting down to, well, the furthest I could see him is 23 to Minnesota; 16 to St. Louis is where I have him going.”

Kiper believes what makes Austin so valuable is his fit with the direction the NFL is taking.

“I think Tavon is going to have a heck of a career. I think he’s just an electrifying, dynamic player. You could say he’s overdrafted because this draft doesn’t have elite guys in the top 10, but in this NFL, in the era we’re in in the NFL, his skill set transitions and translates tremendously well.

“Now, 20 years ago it might have been a different ballgame, and the three guys that are dominating obviously are putting up big numbers at the slot receiver position went undrafted, but that certainly doesn’t affect Tavon Austin. He’s a guaranteed first-round draft choice and probably no later than pick 16.”

So how does Kiper come down on the Geno Smith controversy?

“You have a first-round quarterback in Geno Smith. I’ve said all along I think he’s 20 to 32, and everybody is kind of saying the same thing. I said it three months ago, I thought he was a 20 to 32 guy. I kept asking teams, is he going to go in the first, is he going to go — ‘Yeah, he’s going to go in the Top 10.’ Well, he’s not going to go in the Top 10, but everybody thinks he’s 20 to 32, so it’s been an interesting dynamic trying to evaluate where he’ll project,” he admitted.

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Former WVU nose tackle Chris Neild is battling his way back from a knee injury and hoping to be able to claim his old spot, especially now that he’s going to have quarterback Pat White as a Washington Redskins’ teammate.

“It’s good to have a familiar face nearby,” he told “I’m glad (White) pursued his passion for what he wanted to do. He’s way too talented to not get another chance, and I’m happy the ’Skins gave it to him.”

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That’s nice stuff. Idiotic stuff as Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban sounding off about drafting Brittney Griner as the first woman NBA player, give me a break.

There are hundreds of 6-8 men who played big time in college who didn’t make in the NBA.

Kevin Jones, who should have been Big East Player of the Year his senior year, has been only a fringe player with the Cleveland Cavaliers, going on and off the developmental squad.

If he can’t make it big time, Brittney Griner can’t make it at all.

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It appears that former WVU cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones has done a good job of rehabilitating himself, staying out of the headlines like his most famous “make it rain” moment in Las Vegas, which resulted in the shooting of Tommy Urbanski.

Well now Urbanski, who was shot four times and paralyzed, has filed suit to try and recover some of the $23.4 million judgment he received against Jones last year.

Jones has not paid any of the money.

The suit was filed in Ohio and is seeking 25 percent of Jones earnings with the Bengals. He is due to earn $750,000 this year, $1.2 million in 2012 and $1.35 million in 2015, but it appears Urbanski is going to have get in line for there are other creditors, including the IRS, also looking for payment from Jones.

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And this reply to a Tweet sent to Bruce Irvin, the one-time Mountaineer who was a first-round pick last year with Seattle and turned in a strong rookie season.

“Me too! RT @1seahawks fan: I’m looking at a big year for Bruce Irvin in his second season.”

Email Bob Hertzel at Follow on Twitter @bhertzel.