We've seen the Dallas Cowboys take a chance on linebackers Sean Lee and Bruce Carter in previous drafts. Both players carried high draft grades, but fell into the second round because of their injury history. This year there is a defensive end from Florida State who could be a great value for the Cowboys if he falls to them in the second round.
Prior to his torn ACL, Cornellius Carradine was one of the best players in college football. Bjoern Werner received a lot of the hype, but Carradine was the more explosive player. Even though the Cowboys have franchised Anthony Spencer, they could still look to add depth at defensive end. If Carradine checks out medically, then he could be another injury risk that the Cowboys roll the dice on.
Positives: Carradine doesn't have the elite size or length that some of the other defensive ends have going for them in this draft, but at 6-4 and 276 pounds he reminds me a lot of Justin Tuck. Carradine is a really good athlete who can burst off of the line of scrimmage and be a dangerous pass rusher.
When it comes to coming off of the edge and dropping his shoulders, Carradine is one of the best pass rushers in this year's draft. Carradine's speed and quickness make offensive tackles struggle with him, but his flexibility adds another dimension to his pass rushing ability. Carradine has strong hands and will use them in a violent manner to his advantage.
While Carradine does have great speed, his bull rush is one of his strongest tools and he uses great leverage when executing that move. If a quarterback holds the ball for too long, Carradine will eventually break free from his blocker and chase him down. His closing speed allows him to wreak havoc and rack up the sacks.
The word "motor" tends to come up when describing football players, and Carradine has a very strong one. He looks motivated and hungry, always giving maximum effort. For such a good pass rusher, Carradine is a very well rounded player who is also strong against the run. He can use his strength to push and throw blockers around, but he also has the speed to seek and chase.
Carradine has a physical nature to his game and wants to hit people. Not every player wants to be physical and throw his body around, but Carradine loves to drop the hammer on offensive players. Carradine has great eyes and has shown that he can read the offense and diagnose the play. For a player who lacks a lot of experience, his football intelligence is very high and I believe that helps him make a lot his splash plays.
Negatives: There really aren't too many negatives or flaws with Carradine. Most of the negatives stem from a lack of experience and his ACL injury.
After transferring from Butler Community College in Kansas, Carradine didn't start for Florida State in 2011. Even though he wasn't a starter, Carradine racked up great numbers and earned a starting job in 2012. The lack of experience is a red flag that is going to draw some concern. Regardless, Carradine did dominate during his time at Florida State.
Is Carradine a good player or is he a product of all the talent around him at Florida State? There is some concern that Werner helped Carradine put up all of his statistics. I believe that Carradine will succeed without Werner in the NFL, but there is no doubt that playing on a talented Florida State defense did help him achieve statistical success.
The ACL injury Carradine suffered against Florida is the biggest red flag of all. At the NFL Combine, Carradine couldn't take part in any of the positional drills and was only able to participate in the bench press where he put up 28 reps. Carradine is supposed to be on pace to make a full recovery from the injury and he will participate in the Florida State pro day which will be held on March 19th. Hopefully he can show that he hasn't lost any of his explosion or athleticism.
Conclusion: Outside of a lack of experience and durability concerns, Carradine is a great prospect. Prior to his injury, Carradine was being touted as one of the best pass rushers in the nation and would have gone somewhere in the first round. If Carradine has a strong showing at the Florida State pro day, then he could increase his draft stock and erase some of the concerns that NFL teams will have about him.
If the Cowboys are sitting with the 47th pick in the second round and Carradine is still available, then the war room would have to assess the injury risk and determine if he would be worth the investment. Similar to Lee and Carter, Carradine may not show an early return on the Cowboys' investment, but the long-term results could be worth the risk.
Cornellius "Tank" Carradine vs Miami (2012) (via Aaron Aloysius)