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April 29, 2011Marvin Austin's entire situation as a promising interior defensive line prospect with a sketchy series of incidents in his recent past hanging over him like a storm cloud is undoubtedly one of the more intriguing storylines of the 2011 NFL Draft from North Carolina's perspective.
Anyone that has spent any time around Austin knows that he has a big, commanding personality to go along with a million-dollar smile, and that's why it's fitting that he's heading to the media capital of the world as one of the newest members of the New York Giants.
The Giants selected Austin with its second round selection Friday night (No. 52 overall).
Austin was a second-team All-ACC selection in 2010. He played in all 13 games and made 12 starts, finishing with 42 tackles, 6.0 tackles for losses, four sacks, three pass breakups, six quarterback pressures, one forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
In New York, Austin will be teamed with former Tar Heels Hakeem Nicks and Madison Hedgecock.
"It was a little tough watching the names go by ahead of me, but I got excited when it was the Giants pick, because they met with me three times at the combine and I knew they were interested," said Austin.
"I'm just thankful for this opportunity, to go to a place where they want me and I can flourish. I know Coach Coughlin is a no-nonsense type of coach and he believes I'm a good guy who can help their football team. I'm so proud to be a New York Giant."
"I spent quite a few minutes on the phone with him (Austin) prior to telling him we would be drafting him in the second round and that there were some very, very high expectations for him if he was to come here and be a New York Giant," said New York head coach Tom Coughlin.
"He has an opportunity now to show the world what he can do and hopefully package all the energy and disappointment and motivation based on the fact that he did not play this last year."
"Hopefully, he'll wrap all that up and come here and be the football player we think he can be," Coughlin added.
"Here's another slider---one of those North Carolina players that had to sit out the whole year (in 2010)," said ESPN commentator Chris Berman moments after Austin's selection.
"There's no book on him last year, but the Giants, they keep trying to get pass rushers, don't they?" Berman added.
"It's hard to find bodies like Marvin Austin," said Jon Gruden.
"I realize there's some clouds hanging around this kid---he hasn't done it and sustained it---but this guy can play. And (Giants head coach) Tom Coughlin and his coaching staff have done a good job with that defensive line over the years."
"He (Austin) will fit in good with the New York Giants," Gruden added.
Austin joined former Tar Heel teammates Bruce Carter and Greg Little, who were also taken during Friday's second round.
The ESPN Draft analysts were quick to point out that there were multiple issues that certain pro franchises had with Austin's recent past and the circumstances of his NCAA-mandated loss of eligibility that crept him down the list a little.
"No question about it there were teams that had a lot of questions about Marvin Austin," said Adam Schefter.
"In fact, just this week alone I found three teams that had taken Marvin Austin off their board due to concerns about his character. Their team was not going to take Marvin Austin at any point in this Draft."
"I think they had concerns about the way that he handled himself, the way he handled himself at North Carolina last year, how he reacted on visits to certain teams, his lack of accountability, his lack of discipline while playing defense."
"There were a lot of teams that had a lot of reasons to be concerned about Marvin Austin, which is one reason why he slipped all the way down to the Giants in the second round," Schefter concluded.
"I think the fact that he's there in the mid-to-late second round area tells you all that you need to know," said NFL Draft expert Mel Kiper.
"The thing is with this kid, he needed to play this year, and unfortunately he didn't have that opportunity," Kiper added.
"I say, 'Why did he need it?' He didn't finish. He didn't get those impact plays."
"Marvin Austin needed to be a guy that could collapse it (the opposing offensive team's pocket) and get in there and be a guy who put up the numbers. He only had nine sacks over the last three years at North Carolina. He did get back on the field for the East-West Shrine game."
"Here's a kid you look at that's 6-1 ?, 310 pounds, heavily recruited out of the prep ranks, 4.84 40 time, explosive, 38 reps (on the bench press), powerful upper body, very good athletic talent," Kiper continued, explaining some reasons why the Giants were so high on him.
"The concern with him moving forward is he going to take that chip that he has knowing he dropped into the second round (and) wasn't able to play with that suspension?" said Kiper.
For the Giants, who are always looking for capable defensive linemen to play in their 3-4 scheme, Austin is the type of player that can hold his own without another large defensive tackle right beside him every single play, as is the case in a 4-3 scheme.
"I'm sure Tom Coughlin did his due diligence (prior to drafting Austin)," said Berman.
He's going to have a chance during this coming summer's training camp to use that chip on his shoulder and compete for immediate opportunities in the two-deep rotation if not a starting job for an aging Giants defensive line that just got a lot younger and more explosive.
"I think you look at Marvin Austin and you say, 'Talented kid, chip on his shoulder coming in.' Will he take that motivation and help the New York Giants address this position?" Kiper said.
"I think it's a gamble well worth taking, because this kid is motivated, and you know he will be. It seems all indications were he would come in with a lot to prove."
"(It's a) good opportunity for a kid who didn't play at all for North Carolina this year," Kiper added.
NOTE: UNC Athletic Communications provided the quotes from Austin and Giants head coach Tom Coughlin for this feature.