Panthers Scouts Meet D-Line Prospect

While most of the news this week has been about Ron Rivera filling out his coaching staff, Carolina's scouting department has been laying the groundwork for a turnaround 2010 season. Team representatives attended East-West Shine Game practice Tuesday and met with an in-state defensive line prospect.

The Panthers met with UNC defensive tackle Marvin Austin on Tuesday, according to's Charlie Bernstein.

DT Marvin Austin
Streeter Lecka/Getty
Austin (6-foot-3, 305 pounds) is a massive run stopper with the quickness to make plays in the backfield. He was suspended for his senior season after an investigation into whether some Tarheels players received benefits from agents, but he is still talented enough to merit a high draft pick.

He finished his three-year run in Chapel Hill with 106 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss and nine sacks. He also chipped in a blocked kick and an interception in 2008, when he emerged as an elite run-stopping lineman.

Carolina's run defense could certainly use the help after finishing No. 23 in 2010.

Austin's quick first step is also an incredible asset. His ability to collapse the pocket from the inside out could make for big years for DEs Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy.

The big question is where Austin will go in the draft. He has the talent of a first-round pick, but he missed all last year due to the suspension; even before that he dealt with questions about his maturity.

There is no chance the Panthers draft Austin No. 1 overall. And since Carolina does not own a second-round pick, Austin will have to fall to the third round for Rivera & Co. to give him serious consideration.

Should the Panthers go after Marvin Austin? Talk about it in the message boards.

Michael Lombardo is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and also a long-time contributor to the network. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports. You can see more of his updates by following him on Twitter.

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