Mock Draft Spotlight: UNC DT Marvin Austin

Austin may have been a top-5 pick in 2010 if it weren’t for NCAA infractions.

Posted by Mike Duffy on Thursday, April 14th, 2011 at 11:13 am | Categories: 2011 NFL Draft, Mike Duffy, Mock Draft Spotlight

If defensive tackle Marvin Austin had entered the NFL Draft after his junior season, he likely would have been a top-five pick.

But, when Austin opted to return to the University of North Carolina as a senior, Chapel Hill rejoiced.  Not too long afterwards, however, the town groaned.

As the Tar Heels neared their opener, Austin, who was at the head of an NCAA investigation regarding illegal player-agent contact, was dismissed from the team and didn’t play a single snap.

The absence from football and subsequent character concerns all but dropped Austin from the first round, costing him millions of dollars and the game he claims to love.

“I went from being one of the top players and prospects in the nation to being a guy that is not even talked about,” Austin said at the NFL Scouting Combine.  “And it was a tough situation having to sit back and watch all the other defensive linemen go out and play and perform and not be able to do anything.

“It made you put things in perspective a lot more.”

Several other of Austin’s teammates also missed games because of the investigation, but only Austin was held out the entire year. 

Austin’s transgressions included accepting two trips to Florida and two to California from agents.

“A lot of guys missed a lot of time playing football so it hurt a lot, having to sit the whole season out,” Austin admitted.   “It was just something that made you sit back and think about the opportunity and makes you realize that you have to take every day as if it may be your last, because it possibly could be.”

Austin failed to capitalize on a 2009 season that saw him log 42 tackles, six tackles for loss and four sacks while anchoring Carolina’s defense.

Now, the gregarious 6-foot-2, 309-pounder has once again solidified a first-round status, according to NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock.  He bench pressed 225 pounds 38 times at the combine, which was second among all defensive linemen, and has been patiently explaining his suspension to each team he visits.

NFL.com’s Pat Kirwan has Austin going to the Ravens with the 26th-overall selection.

“All I can do is go and work hard and perform and show them what I can do as a player and who I am as a person,” said Austin. 

Could the Ravens target Austin, even after drafting Alabama defensive tackle Terrence Cody one year ago?

A front wall featuring two-time Pro Bowler Haloti Ngata, the 350-pound “Mount” Cody and Austin could be immovable well into the future, especially with stalwart Kelly Gregg entering his 12th season.

Austin is just hoping he is back in one club’s good graces.

“I try to stay away from all the blogs and stuff like that, because the draft is not an exact science,” Austin said. “All you have to do is be impressive to one team.”

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