Lombardi: Austin has top-10 talent

Marvin Austin, who was dismissed from the North Carolina program last season for impermissible communication with an agent, is a prospect whose draft stock is on rise after his performances at the East-West Shrine Game, the NFL Scouting Combine and his pro-day workout.

NFL Network’s Michael Lombardi sees the defensive tackle as “one of the most talented players in the draft” and a top-10 talent.

“This is a big man with great athleticism,” Lombardi said during an NFL Network conference call with reporters Wednesday. “(He has) the ability to play on all three downs and impact the game. I think if you can get comfortable with the off-the-field issues, which I think a lot of teams have, I think he has top-10 talent based on his production and his skill level. He’s a lot closer to Marcell Dareus than most people might suspect.”

Dareus is the consensus top defensive lineman available and is in the conversation as the top overall pick. Lombardi has Austin rated behind Dareus but ahead of Auburn’s Nick Fairley.

The increased comfort level of team’s with Austin and his off-field past could potentially propel him into the middle of the first round. NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock, who at one point pegged Austin as a third-round pick, has moved him to No. 24 overall on his big board and believes he won’t fall out of the first round.

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