While Bruce Carter is no stranger to draftniks and North Carolina Tarheel fanatics, the casual Cowboys fan may not be very familiar with this years 2nd round draft pick. We all are very much aware with first round pick offensive tackle Tyron Smith from USC and his arrival into town. But many may not be very familiar with Carter’s strengths, weaknesses and the attributes that he can bring to a team like the Dallas Cowboys.
This pick left many Dallas fans scratching their heads and wondering just how Carter would fit into the defensive scheme of Rob Ryan. Senior writer Joe D. Ramirez gave a brief rundown and opinion of Carter shortly after Dallas made the pick during the 2011 NFL draft. With word that Keith Brooking may be on the outs in Dallas, this could have been a reach for the Cowboys in anticipation of that move. Personally, I don’t see it…at least not this year and least not due to Carter being drafted.
Carter displays tremendous straight line speed for a 6’2″ 241 lbs. linebacker. From tape, you get the opinion that he is a finesse linebacker that can get pushed around a lot and doesn’t wrap up tackles very well. Carter instead depends on a big hit to knock a player down. This may have served well for him in college, but at the next level the faster, bigger and shiftier players will leave Carter tackling nothing but air.
Carter seems to have good instincts and can be adept to playing in space at times but seems more to play back when he needs to be attacking and attacking when he needs to be staying back. Unlike last years second round pick, linebacker Sean Lee, Carter does not seem very adept at using his hands to fight off blockers and gets tied up and pushed back very easily.
Now Bruce Carter did have some positives about his game. He can run down just about anyone moving laterally, or north and south. In high school Carter played quarterback, safety and running back. Carter was listed as the No. 33 safety prospect in the nation but was converted to linebacker once at UNC — so versatility is a strong suit of Carter’s.
Coming into Carter’s Senior season he was considered by some to be a first round NFL linebacker and a Butkus Award candidate, but all that came to a screeching hault when he suffered a season ending knee injury against in state rival N.C. State. His sophmore season was his best season when he finished the season with 68 tackles, five sacks, an interception, which was returned for a touchdown, and a impact special teams player where he had a nation leading five blocked kicks.
Carter was a team captain and was cleared of any wrong doing during the agent scandal that rocked UNC last year. This could show that he’s an upstanding young man that isn’t easily influenced by those around him. We know Coach Garrett probably wouldn’t have drafted him otherwise.
Let’s hope some of those smarts translate to his play on the field otherwise I see Carter panning out to be more of a Bobby Carpenter or Jason Williams rather than a Keith Brooking or Sean Lee. I don’t see Carter as capable of being able to play inside linebacker unless he bulks up a little and learns to use his hands to shed blocks more readily. Carter’s a project at the moment who is still rehabbing a knee injury, so it could be two years before they even begin to see any kind of return on this 2nd round investment.
Unless Carter becomes a heck of an outside linebacker pass rush specialist opposite side of Demarcus Ware, let’s face it, a second round pick on a real nice special teams player was a bit pricey.