Second Round, 40th Pick
How high can a player who tore his ACL in November go in the NFL draft? Florida State defensive end Cornellius "Tank" Carradine is about to answer that question. He wasn't even a starter for the Seminoles when the season started, but he'll be a longtime starter in the NFL if he plays the way he did in 2012. Find out what makes overlooking Carradine's injury easy when it comes time to draft him.
Carradine is the most natural pass-rusher in this draft class. He bends and turns the corner like he was born to do it, and he's strong enough to stagger an offensive tackle with his punch. "Tank" has a killer instinct when he is close to the quarterback and uncoils to seal the deal with sure results when he is in range. His whole game is aggressive, and offensive tackles are always on their heels when they are trying to block Carradine.
He plays low with his knees bent like a linebacker when he is in the open field and he can change direction and close like a linebacker too. His combination of size, speed, strength, explosion and fluid movement is very rare indeed.
If you're looking for the 2013 draft prospect with the quickest get-off at the snap, Carradine isn't it. He's sometimes hesitant and almost never the first defensive lineman out of his stance. Carradine can also have trouble anchoring against the run and reading the play. He doesn't have a wide variety of pass-rush strategies and can have trouble passing up the clash to disengage from a blocker.
You would never think Carradine is 6'4" and 276 pounds watching him move around the field. With 34.75" arms, he's something out of a quarterback's nightmare. He lifted 225 pounds 28 times at the combine, which matches his strength on film.
Carradine has outstanding flexibility for a big edge-rusher, which helps him turn the corner and defeat his opponent regularly. He also has the change of direction and explosiveness to mirror and close in on running backs and option or scrambling quarterbacks in the open field.
Carradine has won team awards for his qualities off of the field and is considered a good character player. He seems to be ahead of schedule in his rehab from an ACL tear, which speaks to a good work ethic.
Carradine lined up with his hand in the dirt as a defensive end in Florida State's 4-3 defense. He would occasionally stand up and move to a different spot on the defensive line before the snap on passing downs.
An offensive tackle doesn't have much time to think when they are assigned the job of blocking Carradine. He isn't lightning-quick out of his stance, but he has a sprinter's burst upfield and usually lands the first blow in the clash. Carradine will jolt the tackle with a punch or slap his outside shoulder pad to get some room to turn the corner, and his hips can lock and drive on an unsuspecting quarterback in an instant.
Carradine is a natural finisher who rarely lets a quarterback get away. He can change direction quickly when a quarterback tries to elude him and he'll instinctively launch himself at the passer like a striking viper when the opening presents itself. There's also a lot of fight in his pass rush, and Carradine has even been known to split a double-team to put pressure on the passer. Guards look powerless to stop his speed/strength/length combination when they are trying to block him one-on-one.
Against the Run
Carradine's strength to jolt a blocker back on contact is most evident when he's defending the run. He could still evolve in play awareness and doesn't do a great job of setting the edge or anchoring against the run at times. Carradine can break down in the open field like a linebacker and is very hard to elude at the edge. He can change direction and run fast enough to track down a reverse when he takes a false step.
Long arms help Carradine wrap up and he drives through his target, again, like a linebacker (notice a theme?). He stays low when he is in the open field, so he usually has leverage and wins collisions. Carradine hits with a thud and will have no trouble bringing down the bigger quarterbacks of the NFL. He will stun most quarterbacks and certainly force his share of fumbles.
Use of Hands
While Carradine doesn't show textbook examples of every hand-fighting technique and pass-rush move, he is aggressive with his punch and has mastered the outside shoulder pad slap to get the corner on the offensive tackle. He also gets his long arms extended to keep the offensive tackle from landing a punch on him and create room to operate.
Scheme Versatility/Future Role
Carradine is the rare edge-rushing prospect with the size and strength to play defensive end in a 4-3 and the agility and explosiveness to play outside linebacker in a 3-4. He could even line up inside as a pass-rusher in nickel defenses. He should appeal to teams no matter the kind of defense they run.