Grading the Numbers: Bruce Carter
If you haven't already done so, please take a quick look at the Grading the numbers: First Look fan post. It provides a little background info for this post.
This post looks into the cowboys 2nd round pick, Bruce Carter.
At first, I was surprised at this pick. I understand the value; I just felt that at that point in the draft there were some other directions that we could have gone. Like any pick, I do not know if this pick will be good or bad, but we definitely got value, as the pre-draft buzz around Carter was such that I believe he was a sleeper to go somewhere in the late first round, even considering his knee injury.
After digging a little deeper, BC has grown on me, and I must say that I am enamored with his potential. Let's take a look at what we have in this part of our Bruce/Lee tandem...
(Note: As you are aware, Carters measurables are incomplete. This means that his gradeout is incomplete. I refuse to offer hypotheticals, so for this post I will instead be offering comparables.)
Tape Review (these are my thoughts on tape I have seen of the prospect, if they differ from popular opinion or match what the scouts say, it is because that is what I saw with my own eyes. I recommend everyone review and judge for yourself, you may find the results surprising.):
Man this guy is fast. He looks like a safety playing linebacker. A FAST safety playing linebacker. His acceleration is off the charts. I was flabbergasted by some of the fast athletes he was able to run down from behind with his acceleration and long speed. As quick and fast as he is, his agility/cod appears to be only adequate. I cannot decide if this is due to his true athleticism or a product of the system he played in at UNC (ugh, shades of a Wade Phillips read/react... seen enough of that for my lifetime). Given the physical markers, I am inclined to believe the latter. Speaking of systems, I get the feeling that the read/react defense does not play to his strengths. Yes, he has amazing ability to recover if he is caught out of position, but to me, he looked much better in the few plays that he had an assignment and could attack it... whether that be rushing the quarterback, a man assignment, or a gap to cover.
Duck out of water. That's the impression I get when watching him play at UNC, and likely we would have felt the same if WP was still here. Due to his insane athleticism, he had no choice but to show a modicum of success in any system, but I have to believe that should he had been played to his strengths, in a more Von Miller-esk type role, his production would have been off the charts.
The finesse ‘backer moniker many of the pundits have placed upon him appear somewhat justified. Much more of a wrap tackler than a thumper, which is surprising given his displayed strength. Still, I keep going back to the system that he played in, and that this appears to be coached. He does not play with a mean streak by any means, and does not seek to blow people up. Once again, this goes back to coaching... given a little latitude, he has the base line ability to knock people's heads off (look at the LSU game if you don't believe me). I think that allot of this is a result of the coaches having him "playing scared". One thing that I noticed on tape not many are talking about; it is clear he does not trust his coverage behind him. He was always worried about getting beat and it is evident that poor safety play was in his head almost every play. I expected much more out of Searcy and Williams, but perhaps this alludes a little to their draft positions. They did not play to their ability and this adversely affected the entire line backing corps.
Active in pass coverage, and once again looks more like a safety than a linebacker. He seemed caught out of position at times, but upon a closer look, it was often the SS's assignment that was blown, but Carter had the athletic ability to run down and partially make up for his SS's blown coverage, and at least make the tackle... on the guy that wasn't even his responsibility! His athleticism is evident in coverage, especially so in a man alignment where he didn't have to worry about what his SS was doing. One on one, tight-ends and backs were not getting open.
Better rusher and coverage linebacker than run stuffer. At first glance, he appears a poor fit to play inside in the 3-4, but upon further inspection I feel this is more a product of coaching than of any inability in the prospect. Definitely would like to see him in camp to further validate my observations. If anything, I would say his more natural position should be the WOLB in a 3-4... but his athletic ability allows him to play from any position, and perhaps more importantly, bring the HEAT from any position... an important factor in our new d-coordinator's scheme.
Here is where we have to expand the scope of our grades a bit. Due to the knee injury, we have a limited scope of measurables to go off of. So far here is what we know:
40 time: 4.39 (This is debated, however this number is on record at UNC)
Vertical: 40.5 inches
Bench: 440 lbs
Squat: 605 lbs
Clean: 374 lbs
Each of these metrics is better than those of :
But who do these numbers compare to then, if what we have scores higher than Patrick Willis?? You may not like this, but I found someone that had similar comparables;
Jason Williams (yes THAT Jason Williams)
I hate Wade Phillips. I don't use that word lightly, but I am truly angry with some of the crap he pulled during his time here, one of them being the release of Jason Williams. We may never know, but I always felt that like Bruce Carter, he was a duck out of water and playing in the wrong system... one that instead of playing to the prospects strengths, asked the prospect to cover for its (the system's) deficiencies. Instead, in a move to save his own bacon for another week, he cuts the guy (say what you want about attitude, but he wasn't the only person unhappy with WP, and rightfully so). Such a cop out. You can also say what you will about Jason, but I believe that in a Rex Ryan defense, he could have been something special, especially as a limited rotational player (and not counted on to be a starter).
In any case, it looks like we ended up with a similar prospect in Carter (at least athletically), but from a school with a higher level of competition. And the other good news, for what measurables we do have, Carter exceeds even Williams in each one.
Comparisons to ‘backers:
Brooking apparently is too old to have a gradeout.
Athletically a monster, and played to his strengths, could have a Patrick Willis type impact, and if not, a Wade Phillips-Jason Williams bust out. I am truly excited about the prospect of Carter playing in the middle of our D. No more athletically limited TE's burning our even more athletically limited LB's for deep touchdowns sounds like a winner to me, along with some ILBs that may actually get to the QB every once in a while. This is all predicated upon the knee healing on schedule, and Bruce being able absorb the playbook. Likely, he will not see heavy playing time in 2011, but should push for (and hopefully win) the nickel and 3rd down job.
Also, don't be shocked to see him push Spencer for serious playing time as well, especially in obvious rush downs (assuming knee is healthy of course), and the same is true of whoever is backing up Ware.
Thanks for reading, up next is: YOU DECIDE!