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UNC's Marvin Austin Takes a Pre-Draft Visit with the Patriots

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According to Vaughn McClure of the Chicago Tribune, University of North Carolina defensive lineman Marvin Austin took a pre-draft visit with the New England Patriots yesterday.

Austin, a 6'2" 309 lbs defensive tackle, is projected by most to go sometime during the second round of this month's NFL draft. Extremely gifted athletically, Austin suffered from off the field issues while with North Carolina, eventually being kicked off the team due to "violations of NCAA agent benefits, preferential treatment and ethical conduct rules."

With Austin, you're getting a player with 1st round talent, but a player that has been inconsistent both on and off the field. He doesn't have great instincts, isn't a fit for the base 3-4... so why would the Patriots be interested in bringing him in for a pre-draft visit?

Most likely, the reason would be to evaluate his character. At 6'2", Austin is best as a 3-technique defensive tackle who is allowed to shoot the gaps between the guard and tackle. If the Patriots like their off the field evaluation, and Austin falls to their laps at say, pick 74, would the Patriots pull the trigger on a player like Austin? The Patriots play in their sub-package defense roughly half the time. If he pulled himself together, Austin could be a forced to be reckoned with as an interior rusher on passing downs.

The bottom line is this: I don't see the Patriots selecting a player like Austin with their first three picks. However, if he took a draft day slide, I could envision a scenario where he becomes a tremendous value around pick 74.