North Carolina defensive tackle Marvin Austin certainly cannot be called a sleeper, even after missing the 2010 season because he, like teammates Robert Quinn and Greg Little, accepted improper benefits from an agent while still in school.
And he’s certainly not a secret to the Bears, especially after Lovie Smith and defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli attended North Carolina’s Pro Day on Thursday. Marinelli actually ran the drills in which Austin and Quinn both looked superb.
But character concerns may cause all three players to be downgraded by some teams. Quinn is still expected to be a top-20 pick. He’s a 6-foot-4, 265-pound edge rusher, maybe the most gifted in the entire draft, and he runs the 40 in under 4.6.
Austin isn’t quite the prospect that Quinn is, but he could wind up being the better pro player, and he will probably not be a first-round pick. Because of his shady background – he was dismissed by the school even before the NCAA sanctions came down – the 6-foot-1 ½-inch, 309-pound Austin is being projected as a second- or third-round pick.
If the Bears can get him at the end of Round 2, even if they have to trade up to do so, he’s well worth the gamble. He’s got a lot of the same qualities that made Tommie Harris the Bears’ first-round pick in 2004, and he could be the replacement the Bears need since Harris was cut.
According to Pro Football Weekly’s draft analyst Nolan Nawrocki, Austin is a “naturally gifted interior presence with dominant athletic ability to play either tackle position in a 4-3 but is a high-risk, high-reward prospect.”