The Seattle Seahawks are continuing their musical chairs in the secondary, this time adding former Jets starting cornerback Blessuan Austin. The Seahawks have agreed to terms with Austin, per Fox Q13 Seattle.
“According to Dave Wyman on @Seahawks Saturday Night on @Q13FOX just now, the team is signing CB Blessuan Austin, who started 16 total games for the Jets the last two seasons, including ten games last year,” Q13 Fox’s Aaron Levine tweeted. “Third-year player from Rutgers, former 6th round pick.”
The move comes days after the Seahawks traded Ahkello Witherspoon to the Steelers for a future draft pick. Seattle’s three starting cornerbacks (including nickel sets) are projected to be some combination of D.J. Reed, Tre Flowers, rookie Tre Brown and newly acquired Sidney Jones. Austin played in 11 contests (including 10 starts) for the Jets last season at right cornerback notching four pass deflections, 63 tackles and three tackles for loss.
Austin Earned a Dismal 51.1 Grade From Pro Football Focus in 2020
Austin struggled last season receiving a 51.1 grade from Pro Football Focus. The corner fared much better against the run notching 70.9 but earned just a 47.4 grade for his coverage. The former Jets corner had a higher score during preseason action with a 61.4, including a 60.5 grade in pass coverage.
Heading into the 2020 season, Pro Football Focus’ Michael Renner labeled Austin a breakout candidate. Although his season did not go as planned, the Seahawks are hoping they can help jump-start the third-year corner’s career.
“Austin fell to the sixth round last year for obvious reasons,” Renner detailed on September 8, 2020. “After tearing his ACL just 182 snaps into his junior campaign, Austin re-tore it only 14 snaps into his final year at Rutgers. Even though he allowed only six completions on 14 targets for 98 yards with two picks over that span, no team was going to take a chance on him early with his injury history.
“When he did finally recover to see the field for the Jets in Week 10 last year, Austin quickly proved he was far more talented than your average sixth-rounder. He broke up passes in each of his first three games and finished with a 69.9 coverage grade on the season.”
Austin Had Multiple ACL Surgeries
The Jets selected Austin in the sixth round of the 2019 NFL Draft with the No. 196 overall pick. Austin’s draft stock took a hit given the corner dealt with multiple ACL injuries during his college career at Rutgers.
“A four-year starter at Rutgers, Austin was the starting right cornerback in the Scarlett Knights’ scheme, but played in only five games the past two seasons due to injuries,” The Athletic’s Dane Brugler detailed in his 2019 draft guide. “NFL teams must go back to his 2016 film for a full evaluation, and there will be concerns about what type of player he will be after his ACL surgeries. Although he doesn’t play sudden, Austin is deceptively fast and puts himself in position to compete for the football when it arrives.
“He tends to come unglued vs. skilled route runners (Dante Pettis ran circles around him in the 2017 season opener) and he needs to become more consistent in the run game. Overall, Austin has the size and speed to open, run and stay in phase vertically from press, but he is an inconsistent zone player and his multiple ACL surgeries are a red flag.”