Exhibits impressive fluidity and balance in his drop, cleanly getting out of his breaks and generating a burst for himself toward the football. Definitely has the ability to turn and run down the seam with NFL-caliber tight ends, as he’s consistently asked to line up over the slot in zone coverage, holding up pretty well vs. college receivers. However, the biggest knock on him is his inability to quickly react to the football. Isn’t real instinctive, doesn’t consistently trust what he sees and rarely gets an early jump on the pass. Puts himself in position to make plays on the football, but is slow to get his head around in the pass game and adjust to the throw.
However, has a real savvy for blocking kicks, is explosive, can cleanly change directions and does a great job dropping his pad level and accelerating after the football. Could have a real impact as a special teams guy early in the career.
Impression: A gifted athlete who has the makings of a starting weakside backer in the NFL. But I do have some questions about his instincts, which could end up holding him back from ever becoming a real impact player at the next level."
Run Defense: Aggressive in meeting, greeting and discarding blocks against the run. Has the lateral agility and vision to elude blockers and makes plays at the line of scrimmage. Also shows some explosiveness in his upper body with his ability to stack and shed blocks. Rare straight-line speed and good agility to avoid tripping up through the trash. Chases hard laterally and downfield in pursuit.
Pass Defense: Provides a good initial pop to the tight end and has the agility and speed to trail closely when in man coverage. Gains good depth on his drop. Changes directions fluidly and has rare straight-line speed. Reacts aggressively to the movement of the quarterback, showing good route recognition and a burst to close on the ball. Can be beaten with good play-action due to his over-aggression.
Tackling: Possesses legitimate explosiveness as a hitter. Generates great momentum in only a few steps and can deliver highlight reel collisions. Generally a reliable open-field tackler, but sometimes drops his shoulder for the big hit and fails to wrap up securely, resulting in some missed tackles. Also has a tendency to arrive on the scene so fast that he's a bit out of control, overrunning the play slightly. Generally athletic and strong enough to make the lunging tackle anyway.
Pass Rush/Blitz: Generates good speed off the edge as a stand-up blitzer. Typically relies on his speed to run around the offensive lineman, showing good flexibility and agility in doing so. Gives blockers an explosive pop to disengage from blocks, but has yet to develop a variety of pass rush moves or the hand technique to fight through once they've latched on to him.
Intangibles: Underwent ACL reconstruction surgery on his left knee on Dec. 14, 2010 and may not be available to work out for scouts before the draft. Prior to the injury he was recognized as a workout warrior. Reportedly has been timed at 4.39 in the 40-yard dash, and owning a 40.5-inch vertical jump and a 440-pound max bench press, 605-pound squat and a power-clean of 374 pounds. Special teams demon for North Carolina in 2008. Led the country with five blocked kicks, including four punts. Blocked eight kicks for his career."
Instincts/Recognition: Returning for his senior year, Carter should only show more improvement in this area. He has been questionable at times in the past on reading plays pre-snap and making adjustments. Has to use his speed and quickness to make up for being a step late at times breaking on the ball. If Carter doesn't improve in this area as a senior, it may lead some teams to question his work ethic in the film room.
Pass Rush: Carter is somewhat miscast at North Carolina in that he's too frequently asked to drop back in coverage. If he played in a defensive scheme that called for more pressure from the linebackers, the opinion of Carter might be higher here. But as it is, he's somewhat green in the pass rush. He clearly has the tools to be an excellent pass rusher but doesn't get to show it often. With his struggles to shed blocks and the extra attention he'll get in 2010, don't look for Carter to show a lot of tangible improvement in this area.
Pursuit/Lateral Movement and Agility: Carter is incredible in pursuit. He can change direction instantly and gets up to his top speed quickly. He takes proper angles toward the ball carrier and can be a violent hitter. He shows fluid hips which helps his change-of-direction ability and stop on a dime in the open field. As aggressive of a player as Carter is, he maintains good balance in his movement. Ran a reported 4.39 40-yard dash.
Quickness/Explosion: Displays plus quickness, especially at the snap. Really fires out of his stance to get around the corner and at the ball carrier. Gets to show his explosion on field goals and extra points. Blocked five kicks last year because he knows how to properly time the snap and fire out of the blocks.
Strength/Ability to Shed Blocks: Strictly on a play-to-play basis, this is where Carter needs to show the most improvement. Carter has plenty of raw strength – his bench press is 440 pounds and he has a 374-pound power clean. But that strength doesn't always translate when shedding blocks. Has said he's up to 240 pounds but plays at 230. If he Carter is put on a 3-4 team, he may have to play at about 250.
Versatility: For now, Carter should be first considered a weak-side linebacker in a 4-3 scheme. His pass rush skills haven't matured quite as much as maybe they should have. But with proper coaching, Carter has the athletic talents to move into a 3-4 OLB role if he can add some strength to shed blocks better.
Final Word: At the moment, Carter is as much of an athlete as he is a football player. His athletic skill is unquestioned. He's fast, agile and strong. But he hasn't put it all together on the field yet. In 2009, he had 7.5 tackles for loss, four quarterback hurries and two sacks – hardly impressive stats."
Will no combine appearance hurt Carter's stock?
Carter didn’t even play much linebacker in high school. He was a safety as a senior coming in at 6’3 205 pounds, but North Carolina wanted him to make the transition to linebacker because of how athletic he was, and his excellent tackling ability.
Carter is a lively character who was one of the few North Carolina defensive players NOT to be suspended for all or part of the 2010 college football season.
Carter is very instinctive, which plays into his strengths very well. He doesn’t bite on play action fakes easily, and he uses his strong football IQ to his advantage. On top of that, he’s a workout warrior. He has an impressive bench press of up to 440 pounds, and he’s very quick on his feet. He is a sideline to sideline tackler who wraps up and can bring you down with force, sometimes causing a fumble. He’s solid in coverage, not often getting caught out of position. He’s a very disciplined player who is a natural leader, and has exceptional intangibles.
Carter could use a bit of work in play recognition skills. He improved over the course of 2010, and he has the IQ to properly diagnose plays, but his reaction time needs to improve a bit. Carter never had many chances to show off his pass rushing ability, and when he did, it was mediocre at best. He needs to work on locating the ball when it’s in the air in coverage. Carter will get out of position at times as he realizes how fast he is, and sometimes is a bit overconfident in his abilities. He’ll have to learn to stick to his zone in coverage and not give up so much ground at times.
Carter entered the season as a surefire first round pick. But his ACL tear against North Carolina State is going to hurt his draft stock, as he won’t be able to participate in the NFL Combine and showcase his pure athletic ability to all 32 scouts. His lack of a pass rush regulates him to a 4-3 outside linebacker position, most likely on the weak side. He’s still a very talented player that could come off the board in the first round if teams aren’t too worried about his injury. I see Carter being pursued by Cincinnati, Cleveland, Denver, Tennessee, and Minnesota in the early part of the second round. I think pick 65 with Carolina is the absolute furthest he will fall if he does because of injury.
NFL Comparison: Lance Briggs "
Positive: Three-down linebacker who displayed outstanding athleticism and ability prior to his injury. Quick out to the sidelines, covers a lot of area on the field and outstanding in pursuit. Shows speed in every direction of the field, has an explosive burst to the action and changes direction without losing momentum. Breaks down well, turns it on in one quick step, and goes hard after ball carriers. Gets depth on pass drops and effective in coverage. Remains disciplined with assignments.
Negative: Not a strong wrap-up tackler. Average instincts and a late reactor. Struggles getting off blocks.
Analysis: Carter was rated as one of the better weak side linebackers available in the draft before his knee injury last November. He relies on his speed and athleticism to make plays but must prove he's back to full health to have any chance of starting at the next level. Carter will be good value outside of the draft's top 45 selections."
Negatives: Timid when diagnosing plays, more concerned with maintaining duties than relying on instincts... Not a heavy hitter, tends to wrap up at the ankles rather than forming up and driving through ball carrier... Only average production from 2007-09, 158 tackles and six interceptions in three-year span... Must develop more as a pass rusher, gets caught up in blocks at line of scrimmage and can be neutralized easily by stronger offensive linemen... Has had minor injury concerns, several small injuries limited him early in career"
Weaknesses: Not quite as football fast as he is straight-line fast. Has a memory. Will disappear for some stretches in some games. Knock out tackler, but will miss one once in awhile also. Not the heaviest tackler around, and may have trouble with jumbo backs in straight ahead collision situations.
Projection: 2-3rd rounder, who may go slightly over-drafted because of his elite speed."
There was nothing Carter did not do as a sophomore. He started all 13 games at outside linebacker and totaled 68 tackles, 11.0 tackles-for-loss, 5.0 sacks and one interception. Although Carter spent his junior season being overshadowed by fellow linebacker Quan Sturdivant, he still ranked third on the team in tackles with 65 and added 7.5 tackles-for-loss, 2.0 sacks and one interception. Carter has been a leader throughout the 2010 campaign while a large portion of the defense has missed some time or been kicked off the team.
Carter always seems to be around the ball and is capable of making the big play. His strength and speed are helpful, but he simply has great football instincts. That is why many considered him one of the top 10 or 15 outside linebackers heading into the 2009 campaign. Having opted to stay in school (and out of trouble), Carter's stock has moved way up and he is considered by many as the top outside linebacker in this class."
The senior outside linebacker plays for perhaps the most talented front seven in all of college football, one that may feature, including Carter, four first-round picks in next year’s draft. Carter has to make enough big plays while staying within his defensive scheme to make sure that he is not considered the fourth wheel. Not an easy task. Quite often in the NFL the Defensive Rookie of the Year is a linebacker; athletically gifted linebackers who played in a pro-style defense in college can have a very smooth transition to the pros. The next in line for this honor may be Carter, a prototypical outside linebacker in UNC’s Butch Davis-led defense. If Carter can emerge from his senior season without being overshadowed by his teammates or pigeonholed as a cover-2 weak side linebacker due to his size, his draft stock could explode. It would not surprise the Draft Bible to see Carter end up in the top 20 of next year’s draft due to his previous game film, athleticism, instincts and sheer force of will."
A converted quarterback, Carter can be frustrating for evaluators to watch, however, as he still needs time to sort out what he sees, has raw instincts for a 3½-year starter and plays the game with a soft, finesse disposition, making too many tackles down the field instead of coming downhill. In coverage and on special teams, he could make a Pro Bowl-caliber contribution and will have to play in a scheme where he is very well-protected to live up to his potential."
Bruce Carter ~ assuming he completely recovers from his knee surgery ~ will be one of the most explosive Athletes in this Draft Class. His Closing Speed in phenomenal, and his Lateral Velocity is outstanding.
He's also a very gifted Pass Defender, though his Run Defense needs a great deal of work, though, as he displays very little tenacity.
What concerns me about him, though, are his Diagnostic Skills + Processing Speed. He get very poor grades on both, and that, ladies and gentlemen, is the quiet killer of many a career.
I do believe he's going to find a place in this league as a Pass Rusher, but I also think that his current projection as a late 2nd Rounder, more or less, is FAR higher than his eventual production will justify.
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