Bears have researched Marvin Austin

We've spent plenty of time discussing the possible combination of offensive linemen the Chicago Bears could be considering with the No. 29 overall pick of next week's draft. But what about the defensive line, where the Bears could use depth across the board and need at least one new starter to replace defensive tackle Tommie Harris?

For that reason, I thought it was interesting Thursday when Bears general manager Jerry Angelo revealed the team has done extensive background work on North Carolina defensive tackle Marvin Austin, a classic "three-technique" tackle who could give the Bears a significant interior playmaker.

As you might know, Austin was dismissed from the team last season because he was a central figure an NCAA investigation into improper contact with agents. Speaking Thursday at a pre-draft news conference, Angelo said Austin has "documented concerns" but that the Bears "have delved into those."

In fact, Angelo said, the two most important figures in the life of any Bears defensive lineman -- coach Lovie Smith and defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli -- visited Austin and "spent a goodly amount of time with him." So did area scout Mark Sadowski.

"We feel real good about how we feel about him and knowing him," Angelo said.

NFL teams don't typically hold NCAA violations against potential draft picks unless they learn about more significant issues in the course of background checks. Angelo seemingly doesn't have any concerns about Austin, but in this period of strategic misinformation, he might simply be trying to convince a team who is genuinely interested to initiate trade talks for the No. 29 pick.

In an Insider piece earlier this week, Kevin Weidl of Scouts Inc. notes that Austin seems to be gaining some traction as a late-first round pick -- mostly because of a "steep talent dropoff" after the top 25 or so players. Weidl cautioned against elevating a player like Austin, but it will be interesting to see if the Bears see him as a true value there or a potential trade chip as the first round closes.