Dallas Cowboys Draft UNC OLB Bruce Carter in Second Round
In what was clearly a value-based move, the Dallas Cowboys selected UNC outside linebacker Bruce Carter with the 40th overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. It is unclear if the Cowboys envision Carter as an inside or outside linebacker at this point (or both), but it is obvious Carter was very high on their board. Outside linebacker was hardly a need position (I rated it the Cowboys’ second-strongest position in my 2010 Position Grades), and although inside linebacker figured to be a need within a few years, there appeared to be more pressing ones (cornerback, safety and defensive end, among others).
Carter is a highly-talented player who could have been a top-15 pick had he not suffered a torn ACL in November. He underwent reconstructive surgery in December, and all reports indicate he will be ready for training camp. At 6’3”, 241 pounds, Carter is said to run somewhere in the 4.5 range.
Clearly an athlete, but how will the ‘Boys employ him? Although others are reporting Carter will be another pass-rush option for defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, I’m not so sure. Current outside linebacker Victor Butler, who people deemed as a “pass rush specialist” coming out of college due to his small stature, is 246 pounds. Anthony Spencer and DeMarcus Ware are both in the 260 range. Carter’s weight is closer to that of the guys inside (Sean Lee is 242, Bradie James is 245 and Keith Brooking is 246). I certainly don’t think Carter’s weight alone should rule him out as an edge-rusher (many of you know I often favor small, quick players to “thumpers”), but the idea that Carter will automatically stay at outside linebacker seems unfounded.
Perhaps Carter’s potential versatility to play both inside and outside was a selling point for Dallas. If that’s the case, I agree with the idea, as Carter will have two chances to succeed. However, with players like Brandon Harris, Ben Ijalana, and Carter’s UNC teammate Marvin Austin still on the board, I think the Cowboys could have still found plenty of value at a position of greater need.
I have posted a few of Carter’s videos below, and I will have a more in-depth scouting report coming later.