Tank Carder: 6 Biggest Strengths and Weaknesses of the NFL Prospect's Game

Sean MerrimanCorrespondent IApril 18, 2012

Tank Carder: 6 Biggest Strengths and Weaknesses of the NFL Prospect's Game

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    It would be hard to find a more competitive player in all of college football during the past four seasons than TCU linebacker Tank Carder.

    This former Horned Frog standout brought new meaning to the word "intense," playing with a high motor at all times and always looking to make a big play on the football field.

    While Carder has all of the ideal intangibles coaches love, he isn't the most athletic linebacker in the draft, which could hurt his stock. But does this guy have any other weaknesses?

    Let's take a look at the six biggest strengths and weaknesses in Tank Carder's game.

STRENGTH: Non-Stop Motor

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    Tank Carder simply loves the game of football, and it shows by the way he plays out on the field.

    Whether its chasing down a quarterback or dropping back in coverage, this guy seems to be willing and able to do it all. His competitive nature and toughness should allow him to find a role in the NFL, whether it's as a starter, backup or as a special teams standout.

    Carder was honored as the Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year after his junior and senior seasons, which goes to show what type of commitment and experience this guy is going to bring to the NFL level.

WEAKNESS: Athleticism

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    If playing with toughness was everything, then Tank Carder would be a first-round draft selection—no questions asked.

    But, having the necessary athleticism to be successful in the NFL is a big part of where one is drafted, and Carder simply isn't the most athletic of the bunch.

    The former TCU standout ran a 4.69 second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine, which isn't bad by any means for his position, but it's just not outstanding. Same can be said for his 34.5-inch vertical jump and 121-inch broad jump.

    Remember, athleticism isn't everything, but it certainly does matter.

STRENGTH: Big Hitter

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    Tank Carder doesn't have the athleticism Ray Lewis had when he came into the league, but just like Lewis, Carder is a feared hitter and plays like a man on a mission on the football field.

    Carder loves contact and is able to rely on his instincts to diagnose plays and hit the open gaps with authority. Once he sees a play developing, he is quick to get there and makes it a point to add a little extra pop when he hits the opposing player.

    Carder has descent size for an NFL linebacker, at 6'2" and 236 pounds, and he has exceptional strength, which he displays with his play out on the football field.

    This photo here should tell you all you need to know about Carders' style of play.

WEAKNESS: Coverage Skills

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    Due to Carder's lack of speed, he often has problems when asked to drop back into coverage.

    The positive is that Carder is exceptional in diagnosing passing plays when they happen, but he can be exposed at times when he drops back into coverage and is asked to stick with a much faster running back or wide receiver. He also struggles at times keeping up with crossing routes.

    While Carder does get beat in coverage at times, he makes the most of it when he reads the routes correctly. He returned two interceptions for touchdowns last season and actually holds the TCU record for the most interception returns in the history of the program.

    That's quite an impressive stat for a guy who certainly doesn't specialize in that given area.

STRENGTH: Experience

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    Tank Carder may not have received the most national exposure playing for TCU, but he certainly received plenty of experience, which is invaluable when it comes to making the transition into the NFL.

    Carder was a three-year starter at TCU, but he received valuable playing time in his freshman season as well.

    During his time wearing that Horned Frog uniform, Carder totaled 60 or more tackles in three straight seasons and 228 total throughout his career. He was a two-time conference player of the year and three-time All-Mountain West Conference selection.

    Experience is big when making that jump, and make no mistake about it, Carder has plenty of it.

WEAKNESS: Lack of Competition

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    TCU is one of those programs that seems to play their best against top-notch competition, but they only get to play that top-notch competition once or twice per season.

    Carder's TCU team played in the Mountain West Conference, where outside of the once-a-year matchup with Boise State, there really wasn't much competition.

    The Horned Frogs opened last season against Baylor and closed the season before that with a win over Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl, but those two schools are far and away the top two programs that TCU has faced outside of their conference.

    Going up against the offensive line of the New York Giants or New England Patriots is much different than going up against Portland State or Wyoming.

    That is something that Carder will have to adjust to when making the transition from college football to the NFL.