Giants Gamble On UNC's Austin

Giants Gamble On UNC's Austin

Marvin Austin had better talent than the 52nd pick in the draft, but a 2010 suspension at UNC cost him dearly. Now he's a Giant, with expectations that he'll provide inside pressure.

Open doors in the NFL didn't last long enough for the Giants to get first-round cornerback Prince Amukamara a playbook. But that didn't stop them from trying to beef up their defensive interior in the second round Friday.

Picking 20th in the round (52nd overall), the Giants picked up 310-pound defensive tackle Marvin Austin, a slider who would have gone much higher had he not lost the 2010 season at North Carolina to suspension for accepting improper benefits that included rent, jewlery, and travel.

"It was an extremely humbling experience to going from being one of the top players in the country to being a guy nobody wants to talk about and stuff like that," Austin said. "I just learned that hard work will pay off. This is what I want to do, and when I get to the facility I'm going to bust my tail."

Austin is looked upon as a potential replacement for Barry Cofield, a restricted free agent under 2010 rules, but who could flee as a UFA under a new collective bargaining agreement.

Ironically, the biggest on-field knock on Austin is his lack of a pass-rush repertoire, something Cofield possesses. He only had nine sacks his first three years, despite displaying the speed to get into the backfield consistently. He often failed to finish, however.

He is a space-eater, however, and became one of the ACC's most feared run stoppers.

The Giants apparently won't yet be seeing if the sting of a lost season is enough to motivate Austin to greater heights. Just hours before the second and third rounds began, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals granted the NFL a temporary stay pending their appeal of Judge Susan Nelson's lockout injunction of last week.

Although the league has yet to define how it will proceed, one can assuredly surmise that the lockout rules which closed down the league since March 11 will again take full effect until the appellate court rules on Nelson's injunction. And that means that all the talk Thursday of starting offseason programs, rookie minicamps, supervised rehab, and dispersal of playbooks and other materials are moot.

For instance, Amukamara visted the Giants' training facility Friday, but had to leave after the media session sans playbook.

With the possibility of losing Cofield whenever free agency does begin, at least the Giants landed a potential future replacement. It's a big if, though, considering at least three teams took him off their value boards because of character issues. Still, Giants GM Jerry Reese called him "nasty." And Tom Coughlin indicated there will be "borders" in place for Austin, which is his way of saying the 6-2 tackle will be on a short leash.

"I spent quite a few minutes on the phone with him prior to telling him we'd be drafting him, and that there were some very, very high expectations for him if he was to come here and be a New York Giant," Coughlin said. "I think he understood that, so we will get off on the right foot.

"He's a talented football player who certainly has an opportunity now to show the world what he can do and to hopefully package all the energy and the disappointment and motivation based on the fact he did not play this past year. Hopefully, we'll wrap all of that up and come be the football player we think he can be."

Those aren't necessarily bad things, however. Running back Ahmad Bradshaw also came with personal issues when the Giants took him with a compensatory seventh-round pick in 2007, but he has yet to cause the coach any off-field headaches.

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