Hello Giants fans! Here I am writing another player profile, this time on the massive, quick moving Marvin Austin out of UNC. The complete opposite of my last profile player Jerrel Jernigan, Austin sizes up to be 6'2 in height and tips the scales at about 300 pounds. That's a lot of human being right there. While he's been out of football for two years, he was an amazing prospect coming out of college and has a chance to contribute to one of the best Defensive Lines in the NFL.
And I thought Herzlich was a scary looking guy! As you guys can see Marvin Austin is a big, bad looking hombre. But can he contribute to the Giants defense this year? There is reason to believe that he can. While he may have been out of football for two years (one due to injury, the other due to scandal), there is no doubting the fact that Marvin Austin has all of the physical tools to be a successful competitor with the New York Giants.Stats
Before his suspension at UNC, Marvin Austin was putting up amazing production for the Tarheels. In his Freshman year he was able to work himself into the defensive rotation and recorded 26 tackles, six of those were for losses and four were sacks. He had an even better sophomore year, starting in 11 of the 13 games UNC had, and racking up 38 tackles. Along with those tackles he had one sack, one interception (returned for a touchdown, by the way) and one blocked kick. In his Junior season Austin once again showed improvement, recording 42 tackles, 4 sacks, 3 pass break ups and a forced fumble. He also was selected for the All ACC Second Team his Junior year. If you look at Austin's stats at UNC, it's easy to see that he consistently got better every year. There was no regression during his college career, which for the UNC defense is actually rather rare. He probably would have progressed his Senior season as well, further solidifying his Top 10 draft pick status, which many draft experts were touting him as after his Junior campaign. Alas, his Senior season was not to be.
The UNC Scandal
Before he could even step onto the field his Senior season, Austin was suspended indefinitely. The statement that former UNC Head Coach Butch Davis released was this
"This decision is not a result of the ongoing NCAA review, Marvin has violated team rules and has neglected his responsibilities to the team."
Now while the suspension of Marvin Austin was clear, the wording and timing of it was rather hazy. When Austin was entering his Senior year, the UNC football team was being investigated by the NCAA for giving their players extra benefits and perks that were in violation of league rules and also providing their players with contact to NFL agents. Former UNC assistant coach John Blake was caught being partnered with a certified agent of the NFL Players Association. Apparently Blake was being paid to influence UNC players to hire this specific agent. Also many fees and parking violations that the players accrued were covered up and paid for by the team. The punishment for this UNC scandal was handed down by the NCAA this year. The UNC football team received three years of academic probation, lost their 2012 postseason eligibility, were forced to pay $50,000 in fines, lost 15 athletic scholarships, and had to vacate a number of wins. Butch Davis, John Blake, and a number of others were fired by UNC, and their Athletic Director Dick Baddour stepped down. While this was a big, messy story that stained the reputation of UNC, apparently it was not the reason that Marvin Austin was suspended.
The team claimed that Austin received perks and payments that were in violation of team rules during an away game in Miami. They also claimed that it had nothing to do with the scandal that was currently being investigated and released multiple statements saying the team had nothing to do with the payments and gifts given to Austin. But doesn't it sound odd that a team under review for handing out "gifts" and paying off parking violations for their players would claim that Austin was dabbling in the same type of things, but it wasn't school related? Seems rather convenient to me, but then again it's not for me to judge. Like I said, the whole situation was messy and Marvin Austin, a top 10 prospect according to many, lost his senior season of football. Still eligible for the 2011 NFL Draft though, Austin entered and hoped that he wouldn't fall too far.
Marvin Austin is a physical specimen even for NFL standards. He's not the tallest, but that helps him to play lower and gives him a lower center of gravity. So even if he plays high and stands up a bit (which he sometimes does) he still isn't exactly easy to get inside his pads and push him around. He put up some very nice numbers at the NFL Combine, running a 4.9 40 yard dash, put up an impressive 38 reps on the bench press, ran a 4.4 20 yard shuttle, and a 7.33 three cone drill. While most Defensive Tackles are known for being strong, not many are as quick as Austin. The 4.9 was very impressive for a man slightly over 300 pounds. He also ran a quick shuttle, which means he can change direction and move down the line of scrimmage rather quickly.
Here's a link to his NFL Combine workout: Combine
As you can see, he's a very impressive athlete. This seems to fit the mold of player that Jerry Reese seems to like. With his draft stock injured due to the suspension and scandal previously mentioned, Reese was able to snatch up a Top 10 prospect that has extreme athletic ability.
Marvin Austin tore his left pectoral muscle in a pre-season game against the Chicago Bears, ending his rookie season before it even began. Now as you guys remember, this was just one of many injuries that the Giants suffered last year, so we were pretty sick of injuries even before Austin tore his pectoral. Now while a torn pectoral is bad, as far as football goes it's not the worst thing that can happen to you. This injury will probably take away from his upper body strength, meaning that it'll be slightly harder for Austin to lock out his arms and keep an Offensive Lineman out of his pads. Still, it doesn't affect the insane quickness and speed that Austin possesses. What worries me more is the two years of off-field rust that may have accumulated during his suspension and injury. But then again that's why we have training camp.
Why He Can Make an Impact
Austin very well could be the biggest question mark on our Defensive Line. Is he at 100% as far as healthy goes? If so, will Coughlin or Fewell put him on the field and give him reps? And if they do, will he be able to produce? Well those are a lot of question marks, but I don't think you can question the tools that Austin possesses.
As we have just found out, Chris Canty's knee situation seems to be a bit more serious than what we thought. This will probably give Austin more chances in training camp to step up and take some meaningful reps. There is no reason he can't take advantage of these reps either. I think the Giants would really like to find a DT that can penetrate on pass plays and cause pressure from up the middle. While Linval can cause a whole heck of a lot of disruption and is rather fast for a man of his size, I think that the best option for the Giants would be to utilize Austin's speed and put him in the 3 tech on passing downs. Linval took many snaps in the 3 tech spot last year, but because of his size I think he could be the ideal, run stuffing 1 tech. Letting Austin penetrate and pressure from the middle will have Quarterbacks scrambling out of the pocket and into the arms of JPP, Tuck, and Osi.
Despite two years of being out of the game, the Defensive Line is the most fluid position on the Giants and it's likely that Austin will get at least a few reps. It'd be preferable if those reps came on passing downs because that's where Austin is most likely to be effective. On third and longs, it'd be great to see a pass rush package consisting of Osi, Austin, Tuck, and JPP. That's a lot of defensive speed on the field, meaning the QB is going to be looking to get rid of the ball very quickly, unless he wants to end up eating some turf.
This first video is of Austin's most recent game played. He was allowed to play in the 2011 East-West game despite his suspension. At times he ha problems disengaging from blockers, but his burst and speed off the line is apparent. He scores a Touchdown off a fumble in the endzone, and he showed hustle to jump on top of the ball. While it's not his best game, he was also going up against a collection of some of the best lineman in the league. (This is totally unrelated but there are a few nice plays by Justin Trattou as well)
This next video is of Austin in 2010. Now two quick notes, if you have trouble finding him he's the only guy on the UNC D-Line with dreadlocks. Also I don't know what is up with the Russian commentary, but I find it kind of cool. Austin sees a few double teams in this video, and that's the only time he really gets stonewalled. Other than he has a good job of pushing back blockers and getting involved in the backfield. Sometimes he guesses where the play is going and doesn't stay in his gap on running plays. That's something he will need to fix. I'd also like to mention he does a good job of not getting his legs cut out from underneath him on the goal line, allowing him to help push the runner back.
Now this final video is of Austin in Giants blue. It's of the first preseason game against the Carolina Panthers last year. Now without any sort of training camp and being that it was his first exposure to the NFL, I don't think he did bad at all. Now I realize that it was mostly against the 2nd/3rd team guys of Carolina, but still not bad. He seemed to penetrate the line pretty well on passing plays and managed to maintain his gaps on the running plays. Sometimes he got stuffed but once he's coached to really keep his pad level down those incidents should disappear. Also looks pretty fast when he stunts to the left.
I really like Marvin Austin as a player, and I think he has a bright future with the Giants. Now if he sees the field a lot this year is the question. Austin should see some reps no matter what, but I think that if he can make use of his pre-season reps the coaches will like what they see. He offers penetration up the middle and a true pass rushing threat at the Defensive Tackle position. While I don't think anyone is expecting him to be a star this year, it'd be great to see him get his feet wet and become poised for a breakout season next year.