Marvin Austin checks out for the Bears

The Chicago Bears have done extensive work on North Carolina defensive tackle Marvin Austin and general manager Jerry Angelo said they are convinced he’s worth an investment.

The Bears are in need of an explosive interior lineman after failed attempts to revive Tommie Harris’ career. The former Pro Bowl performer was released in February. Austin fits the mold but he sat out last season because of his dealings with an agent. Some mock drafts have linked the Bears to Austin at No. 29 in the first round, but concerns about him could push him deep into the second round.

It’s a boom or bust proposition and if you buy what Angelo is saying, the Bears see the boom in Austin.

“I’m not going to get into the specifics about any player. Obviously, he has documented concerns and we’ve delved into those. Lovie (Smith) and Rod (Marinelli) went down there and spent a good amount of time with him. Mark Sadowski, our (Southeast) scout, has spent a good amount of time with him. We feel real good about how we feel about him and knowing him.

“I always say this: 'We just don’t want any surprises on draft day when we bring a player in here.' We’re not looking for halo players. We’re in a business to win football games. But we have to know what’s underneath the hood. That’s the challenge of scouting. The easy part is evaluating the tape. The hard part is knowing how the player is wired. He’s a great player, but there were concerns. We’re satisfied we know them.”

The Bears have rolled the dice with some character issues in the past. They drafted defensive tackle Tank Johnson in the second round in 2004 and by his third season those off-field concerns became serious problems for the organization leading to his hasty departure. Angelo was asked if it’s easier to gamble, so to speak, when the pick is at the very end of the first round and not higher.

“It’s very important because you have to live with him,” Angelo said. “If you are not comfortable with him irrelevant of where you get him, that doesn’t mean he’s going to be that much more attractive, or he’s going to be that much more likeable. We’re not looking for best friends or neighbors. We’re looking for guys who get it, that come in here with good attitudes, good work ethic, that are very passionate about football. If they have those things in common, I personally can get along with them, particularly if he’s got talent.”

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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

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