It's that time again. For those who may be unfamiliar, LRG is a segment I do on players who may not be getting a lot of love from draft experts, but who I still think could be solid contributors nonetheless. This year I'll be starting with one of my favorite players in college football, Tank Carder, an outside linebacker from TCU.
It's about time we moved on from Will Witherspoon.
Not that there's necessarily anything wrong with him, he seems like a good guy and I've got no huge complaints with his performance, but the team is getting younger, that's simply the way things are right now. The strongside and middle linebacker positions have been filled already by two stellar rookies, now it's time to find a young weakside backer to round out the unit. I have serious doubts that linebacker will be a position the Titans look at early in the draft due to other needs, so this pick also actually makes a bit of sense. What's more is that this is a very deep class for linebackers, Carder's stock should slip because of this which makes him a perfect candidate for this years' steal of the draft.
Basically, the main appeal from Carder is just that he's an absolutely gamer, much like Colin McCarthy
before him. By pure tackling standards, I can't see many out there who can challenge him. He's an excellent form tackler, probably even better than McCarthy. If I had to find a guy to compare him to right now, I'd say he's a lot like Mason Foster
who was picked in the third round out of Washington by Tampa Bay last year.
What I really love, aside from the solid tackling of course, is the sense you get that Carder just always seems to be around the ball. Some players just have a sixth sense for making plays like that and he's definitely one of them. From what I've read, he also seems to be a very cerebral player who is routinely communicating with TCU's secondary and making pre-snap reads and adjustments. What he lacks in size, he makes up for in tenacity and effort. While that's something that I can certainly appreciate, his size and strength deficiencies are concerning. We went through a similar experiment with Rennie Curran
a couple of years ago and to be frank it was highly disappointing, I don't want another wasted draft pick. It's all very nice that he plays with a lot of intensity, but even the most intense little guys still seem to get pushed around in the NFL. For every Derrick Brooks
, you have five or ten other guys who never make it because they're just not big enough. Here's hoping that Carder overcomes the odds, I'll be rooting for him wherever he goes.